For surgeons who do thyroid operations, practice makes perfect.

Thyroidectomy, the removal of the thyroid gland, is performed more than 130,000 times a year in the United States, but doing it right is difficult.

Researchers, writing in Annals of Surgery, studied 16,954 patients. After adjusting for age, sex, diagnosis and other factors, they found that the risk of complications decreased as the number of operations the surgeon performed increased. There was an 87 percent risk of complications for surgeons who did one operation a year, down to 3 percent for surgeons who did 21 to 25 operations a year.


To quit smoking, cold turkey works best

Some people try to quit smoking gradually. But a new clinical trial concludes they would be better off picking a day to stop and quitting cold.

British researchers recruited 697 people who smoked the equivalent of at least 15 cigarettes a day. All had agreed to quit within two weeks.

Half the group cut down on smoking gradually, reducing the number of cigarettes and using nicotine patches. The others continued to smoke as usual and then quit abruptly after two weeks, using replacement therapy as needed. The study is in Annals of Internal Medicine.

After one month, 39.2 percent of those who cut down gradually had not started smoking again, compared with 49 percent of the abrupt quitters.


Penis transplants for servicemen

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine are planning to conduct experimental penis transplants in the hope of restoring urinary and sexual function to 60 wounded servicemen.

Doctors at the Baltimore institution have been practicing on cadavers to prepare for their first patient, said a medical school spokeswoman. A successful transplant was done last year in South Africa.

If the first round of transplants is successful, the procedure might be made available to men who have had cancer, and in gender reassignment surgery.

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