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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (July 2, 2010)
Contact: Ashley Givens, (251) 470-1682
USA Research Examines Biomagnetic Signals of Intestinal Ischemia
Dr. William Richards
Dr. William Richards

Dr. William Richards, professor and chair of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, has been awarded a federally funded research grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $215,239.

Dr. Richards’ grant is titled “Biomagnetic Signals of Intestinal Ischemia.” The research examines the effect of partial to near-total chronic ischemia, or insufficient blood flow.

In his research, Dr. Richards will continue to develop recording and analysis techniques that will allow him to differentiate and distinguish the multiple contributions to the biomagnetic field from different parts of the small intestine. All living organisms produce a magnetic field, and the purpose of studying the biomagnetic field is to find new techniques for medical diagnosis and to gain information about normal physiology.

Biomagnetic imaging methods have facilitated the assessment of the intestinal slow wave activity in humans. Non-invasive imaging modalities allow a physician to make increasingly accurate diagnoses and render precise and measured modes of treatment. Current uses of imaging technologies include laboratory medicine, surgery, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine and diagnostic radiology.

The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a sensitive magnetometer to measure weak magnetic fields, called a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID), into a non-invasive diagnostic modality for patients with mesenteric ischemia. The mesenteric arteries are the arteries that supply blood to your large and small intestines.

Mesenteric ischemia occurs when blood cannot flow through your arteries as well as it should, and your intestines do not receive the necessary oxygen to perform normally. Symptoms of the first phase of mesenteric ischemia include severe abdominal pain and the passage of bloody stools. If ischemia continues, abdominal pain can become widespread, the belly can become tender to the touch, and bowel motility decreases.

Dr. Richards received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School Of Medicine in Baltimore. He completed his internship at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., and his surgery residency at the University of Maryland. Following his residency, Dr. Richards completed a surgical fellowship in portal hypertension and endoscopy at Emory University in Atlanta. In addition, he also completed a research fellowship in gastrointestinal motility at the Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.

Dr. Richards is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of numerous professional societies, including the American Surgical Association, the Society of University Surgeons, the Southern Surgical Association, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, the Association for Academic Surgery, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons and the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

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Date last changed: July 6, 2010 8:20 AM