Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The MD Conspiracy

So, my biology professor went off on a tangent about this massive conspiracy on the part of MDs to pay off student loans and buy yachts. All that while studying about the lymphatic system, nonetheless. His problem with the MDs (in this case, anyways) was that they take out organs like the appendix, tonsils, and spleen even when they serve an important purpose so that they can pay off student loans and buy their yachts.

Of course, that's mostly bullshit.

Those organs are taken out when the could potentially pose a threat to the health of the individual. There are cases in the past where the tonsil and appendix were taken out during routine surgery because they had a great potential for health issues. That was then. Nowadays, we recognize that the appendix and tonsils should be left in unless a condition develops. Doctors don't just remove organs for shits and giggles, or even if the patients sign papers. They have reasons.

He went on to blame capitalism for this, and I immediately facepalmed. I mean it, I put my face in my palm right then and there. What a ridiculous statement to make, capitalism is the only thing that keeps doctors from making even more stupid decisions. While our healthcare system is barely capitalistic, it is still enough to prevent a lot of stupid doctors from making stupid decisions, because they can be sued for malpractice. You want to change it so that capitalism isn't a factor? Fine, you get rid of the only system that truly checks a doctors work, because the government sure as hell isn't.

Anyways, onto something else. A student in lecture told my professor that he thought the appendix didn't do anything, and my professor answered that it wasn't the case. I just wanted to elaborate because my professor is both right and wrong, but his being wrong has mostly do with the poor phrasing of the question. I felt this was interesting enough to write about.

The appendix is a vestigial organ. This means that over time the organ has lost its PRIMARY function. The capitalized PRIMARY should send up some flags. The appendix does not have a primary function, HOWEVER, its placement in the GI tract gives it a SECONDARY function. Something it has developed over time just by being in that specific location.

We now know the appendix, because of its location, may have some function in the immune system. It stores bacteria that protect the function of the colon. It also helps protect those bacteria from things like diahhrea, which can flush out important bacteria.

So, the appendix is both vestigial and serves a function. Whoa!

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