Originally created 12/18/97

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Yule lights recalled

About 1.5 million sets of curtain-style, indoor-outdoor holiday lights are being recalled by the manufacturer because splicing connectors can pull apart or break, exposing live wires.

The decorative holiday lights have horizontal electrical wires with vertical strings of four to seven lights that hang down in an icicle effect. They were sold under names including Curtain, Icicle and Wonder Lights from September 1995 through November 1997 at stores including Walgreen, Wal-Mart, Montgomery Ward, Rite Aid Pharmacy and Sam's Club. You can return the lights to the place of purchase for a refund.

Hazards of TV

Parents beware: Children are being seriously injured by televisions that can easily be toppled from their stands.

At the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, two physicians said that most of the injuries are in very young children who try to climb up the stand, presumably because they're attracted by the colors and sounds. To prevent this, the doctors said, sets should be in a cabinet or a stand that can't be toppled.

Parent talk

If, as most couples do, you and your mate have a talk about whether to have a baby and you don't agree, chances are you won't soon. So reports a University of Wisconsin demographer. Among couples who told interviewers in 1988 that they didn't agree, fewer than one-third had had a child when interviewers returned in 1993, American Demographics magazine reports.

What's in a name?

Housemaid's knee is a swelling caused by inflammation or infection of the small fluid-filled sac around the knee joint and is caused by repetitive work done on the hands and knees, such as scrubbing floors. But these days it rarely afflicts housemaids.

"You see it mainly in men who lay tile or carpeting," said Kevin R. Math, a radiologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. "If you tell a man he has housemaid's knee, he gets angry, so I've taken to calling it carpetlayer's knee, for the sake of my own health."

Dr. Math reported on illnesses with popular names to the recent annual meeting in Chicago of the Radiological Society of North America. He noted that preacher's knee involves a lower portion of the knee than housemaid's, but in this era of padded kneelers it doesn't afflict clergymen much.

"It's mostly plumbers who get preacher's knee these days," he said. "I don't know if they mind that name. I never asked."

Other afflictions described by Dr. Math included jumper's knee, snowboarder's ankle, Little League elbow, gamekeeper's thumb, tennis elbow and lover's fracture. The latter, also known as Don Juan's fracture, is an injury to the heel and occurs when someone jumps or falls from a height.

"It's named for the kind of injury that might be sustained by a suitor trying to escape from a window," Dr. Math said, "or a lover fleeing a jealous husband."

In some cases these maladies are easily diagnosed, but others may require advanced medical imaging, which is where Dr. Math and his colleagues come in.

Golfers get break

Also reporting to the RSNA was Dr. John Francis Feller, chief of musculoskeletal imag-ing at Stanford University. Dr. Feller described a hard-to-de-tect fracture called golfer's wrist that afflicts a bone at the base of the hand opposite the thumb.

When energy is transmitted up the shaft of a golf club that has struck the ground, it can break this little bone, known as the hook of hamate, and the damage isn't usually apparent from a standard X-ray, Dr. Feller said.