Category Archives: Northern Westchester Hospital News

Mammograms: An Effective Tool in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Posted on: May 13, 2015

Sandra Lee’s Diagnosis Has Many Women Asking: Should I Get a Mammogram?

Dr. Bonnie Litvack, Medical Director of the Women’s Imaging Center at Northern Westchester Hospital, answers questions many women have about when to start getting mammograms in light of the news that Food Network star and author Sandra Lee, who is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s partner, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

When should I start getting routine mammograms?
I, along with the American Cancer Society, recommend women start getting annual mammograms at the age of 40. I know there are differing opinions, but there is not a high incidence of breast cancer before the age of 40. There are some exceptions, of course, which I explain below.

What if I have a history of breast cancer in my family? Should I start getting mammograms earlier?
If you have a family history of breast cancer, whether it is your mother, aunt, or grandmother on either side of the family, you should start getting mammograms 10 years earlier than the age your family member was diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, you should begin to get mammograms at age 25. However, 25 is the youngest age that I would recommend a woman get a mammogram. If your mother was diagnosed at age 30, I’d still recommend you begin getting mammograms at age 25.

What if I feel a lump in my breast?
Call your doctor and make an appointment. Your doctor will make recommendations about next steps, including getting a mammogram, if deemed necessary.

How long does a mammogram take, and does it hurt?
Typically a mammogram only takes a few minutes. While some patients experience some discomfort, they are in the minority, and if they feel any pain, we manage it.

What if I have no family history of breast cancer? Do I still need to get mammograms?
Absolutely. In fact, 75%-80% of breast cancer diagnoses are with women with no family history.

How effective are mammograms?
They are very effective. Since 1990, mammograms have helped decrease the death rate among breast cancer patients by 15%-40% depending on which studies you read. That is an impressive and encouraging number given that up until 1980, the death rate was steady. Mammograms are an incredibly effective tool to detect breast cancer early, or to rule it out.

Editor’s Note:
Under the leadership of Dr. Bonnie Litvak, the Women’s Imaging Center at Northern Westchester Hospital has been acclaimed as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. She is fellowship trained in MRI and has extensive experience in all aspects of women’s imaging, including mammography.

Northern Westchester Hospital also offers 3-D mammography.


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Manny Pacquiao, Punching Power and the Rotator Cuff

Posted on: May 8, 2015

Manny Pacquiao, Punching Power and the Role of the Rotator Cuff

Dr. Victor Khabie, Chief of the Department of Surgery and Chief of Sports Medicine at
Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, NY dispenses advice on rotator cuff surgery in light of professional boxer Manny Pacquiao’s shoulder injury.

When Dr. Khabie is not performing orthopedic surgery, he is a Ring Side Physician for the New York State Athletic Commission where he cares for professional boxers and has been present at ringside for numerous world championship bouts.

Dr. Khabie says, “I will be very difficult to box at a high level with a rotator cuff tear. The rotator cuff is critical in generating the punching power that boxers require to fight effectively. I believe that his injury significantly influenced the outcome of the recent high-profile fight against Floyd Mayweather.”

He adds, “The good news is that rotator cuff surgery is generally a very successful operation but can take one year to fully heal. A rematch in one year may be of interest to fight fans as Pacquiao would be at full force and would probably make a more competitive opponent. Mayweather will want to prove that he can beat Pacquiao when Pacquiao is back at full force and injury free.”

A lot of people, not just professional athletes, tear the rotator cuff in their shoulders. Dr. Khabie shares his thoughts on the signs of an injury, and what to expect when having rotator cuff surgery.

Signs of a rotator cuff injury

“If an individual has pain in their shoulder for more than seven days, experiences pain in their shoulder while he or she is trying to sleep at night, or has trouble lifting their arm above their head, it is time to see an orthopedic surgeon to see what is going on.”

Dr. Khabie adds that, “If someone sustains an injury while engaging physical activity, or a heavy object falls on the shoulder, he or she should have it looked at by an orthopedic surgeon to get to the bottom of the injury sustained.”

Can this surgery be avoided?

“Sometimes,” says Dr. Khabie. “If there isn’t in fact  a tear, physical therapy can often help along with exercises at home using an exercise band.”

Why would someone have the surgery?

“When a rotator cuff tears, it is no longer connected to the bone in the shoulder, called the humerus. It can only be reattached with surgery,” says Dr. Khabie.

How long is the hospital stay?

“Rotator cuff surgery patients go home the same day as the procedure. We operate on our patients arthroscopically, meaning we use only tiny incisions, which is much less invasive and speeds up the recovery time,” says Dr. Khabie.

What is the recovery like?

“Patients spend about four to six weeks with their arm in a sling. It takes several months to recover. After six months, most people are cleared to begin normal physical activity and exercise, or in the case of a professional athlete, they can begin training,” says Dr. Khabie. “After nine months, most patients feel back to normal.”

Editor’s Note:
Dr. Victor Khabie, MD, FAAOS, FACS is a member of the Somers Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Group. Dr. Khabie received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed his fellowship in sports medicine at the world-renowned Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, California, where he served as assistant team physician to professional sports teams including the LA Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, Mighty Ducks, LA Sparks, and the USC Trojan football team.

Watch Dr. Khabie discuss the role of sports medicine in keeping athletes in competitive condition.

Hip Replacement Surgery on the Rise

Posted on: March 19, 2015

Hip Replacement Surgery on the Rise

By Dr. Eric Grossman

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released findings iStock_3875724_LoRezthat from 2000 to 2010, the number of hip replacements for those older than 45 more than doubled.

The CDC said: “The number and rate of total hip replacements among inpatients aged 45 and over increased significantly from 2000 through 2010. The greatest increase in absolute numbers was in the 55–64 age group, where the number of total hip replacements almost tripled, whereas the greatest percentage change was in the 45–54 age group, which experienced a 205% increase. The 45–54 age group also had the greatest increase in rate, which more than doubled from 45 to 117 total hip replacements per 100,000 population.” (February 12, 2015).

I am not surprised by these trends based on improvements in surgical technique, durability of the procedure, durability of the implants, and patients’ desired active lifestyles. In my practice, I use what is called the “anterior approach” which can result in a faster recovery time, without postoperative restrictions, less muscle damage and a more natural feel to the artificial hip.

Previous generations of general practitioners were reticent to suggest hip replacement to their patients because of longer hospital stays, unproven effectiveness and longer recovery times. There was a time when doctors did not suggest hip replacement due to arthritis pain until their patients could not bear to suffer any longer.

Now, with advances in the surgical procedure, primary care physicians are more inclined to suggest the surgery. This is in part driven by their patients’ expectations. Individuals with painful arthritis are taking a proactive approach – they do not want to suffer in pain any longer than necessary. Additionally, they want to engage in an active lifestyle, and many advances in the surgery since it began to be performed approximately 50 years ago have made the new hips more durable.

The CDC also found that “In 2010, the average length of stay was shortest for the youngest age group and longest for the oldest group. Among those aged 45–54, the average stay was 3 days, lower than for each of the other age groups, while the average among those aged 75 and over was 4 days, higher than for each of the other age groups. From 2000 through 2010, the average length of stay decreased for each age group.”

These findings studied patients until 2010. Now, in 2015, I am seeing much shorter hospital stays after hip replacement surgery. Approximately 80 percent of my patients go straight home from the hospital – not to an inpatient rehabilitation facility as had been routine in the past – within 24-48 hours after surgery. Some select patients are even able to go home the same day of surgery. Our rehab protocols include rapid mobilization where the patients are expected to walk the same day as their surgery.

Watch Dr. Grossman’s patients tell their stories of
living life without pain after hip replacement.
View patient testimonials.

Hip replacement surgery has become more routine and is now being offered to a much wider demographic of patient, particularly patients ages 45-64 and it is not only helpful for senior citizens. There is no need to suffer with painful and activity-limiting hip arthritis. Talk to your doctor to see if hip replacement surgery is an option to explore.

Editor’s Note:
Eric L. Grossman, MD, FAAOS is Co-Director of Joint Replacement Surgery at the Orthopedic and Spine Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital and a member of Mount Kisco Medical Group.

Dr. Grossman is a fellowship trained, board certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in all facets of hip and knee joint replacement surgery including primary and revision total joint replacement, with a focus on the Anterior Approach to Total Hip Replacement.





Simple, Slimmed-down Slow Cooking

Posted on: March 18, 2015

Simple, Slimmed-down Slow Cooking

By Caryn Huneke

In theory, I love the idea of using my Crock Pot to help get dinner on the table during the busy pulled-porkworkweek (or weekend for that matter). But with the exception of chili and soup, my track record for finding timesaving, healthy, and delicious recipes wasn’t exactly stellar. Over time, I noticed there were three main culprits robbing me from slow-cooking culinary success:

1) Time: Is it really going to save me time or will I have to prep a ton of ingredients or remember to brown the meat first?
2) Nutrition: Is it going to be laden with butter, cream-of-anything, and flavor packets, piling on the calories, fat, and sodium?
3) Taste: Will it actually be a satisfying meal that I’d want to make again?

Turning to cooking blogs, Pinterest, and family and friends, I started gathering (and tweaking) recommended recipes. Below you’ll find four easy slow-cooker recipes that you can feel good serving to your family. (Disclaimer: I’ve yet to try each one, but they all come on excellent authority to be foolproof and tasty.)

• Filipino Adobo Pulled Pork
• Flank Steak Fajitas
• Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (
• Beef Stroganoff

Filipino Adobo Pulled Pork
Adapted from

• 1.75 lb lean pork center loin or tenderloin
• 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup water
• 5 cloves garlic, crushed
• 6 ground peppercorns
• 4-6 bay leaves
*Optional: 1 jalapeno, chopped; 2 tablespoons chopped scallions for garnish

• Place pork, soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves (jalapeño if using) in the Crock Pot.
• Cover and cook at low heat 6-8 hours turning over half way through cooking (note: I did not do this and I cooked it closer to 9 hours).
• Remove the pork, shred with two forks and put it back in the Crock Pot.for one more hour to let the flavor get into the meat (note: I probably only left it for another 15-20 mins).
• Discard bay leaves and serve over brown rice and top with chopped scallions.

Slow-Cooker Flank Steak Fajitas
Courtesy of Against All Grain, by Lisa Leake (link from Lisa’s 100 Days of Real Food website)

• 1 ½ lbs flank steak
• 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon coriander
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 – 5 bell peppers, sliced, any color
• 1 onion, diced
*Optional fajita fixings: whole-wheat flour tortillas, reduced-fat grated cheese, fresh sliced avocado, cilantro, lime slices, fresh spinach leaves, reduced-fat sour cream, hot peppers, etc.

1) In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.
2) Rub the spice mixture over all sides of the flank steak and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
3) Pour the reduced-sodium soy sauce on top of the steak and add in the diced jalapeno and minced garlic. Slice the bell peppers and onion and throw those on top of the steak.
4) Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-9 hours, until the steak can easily be shredded with two forks.
5) Drain the meat and peppers and serve with the optional fajita fixings listed above.

Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Courtesy of

• 2 pounds pork tenderloin
• 1 teaspoon ground sage
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• 1 garlic clove; crushed
• ½ cup water
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
• ½ cup water
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1) Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic and rub over pork tenderloin.
2) Place 1/2 cup water in slow cooker and add the tenderloin on top.
3) Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
4) About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for the glaze in small saucepan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens.
5) Brush roast with glaze 2-3 times during the last hour of cooking. (For a more caramelized crust: remove from crockpot and place on aluminum lined sheet pan, glaze, and set under broiler for 1-2 minutes until bubbly and caramelized. Repeat 2 to 3 more times until desired crust is achieved.)
6) Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from

*Note: Five Heart Home’s recipe for beef stroganoff doesn’t use cream-of-mushroom soup so you have to add a few more ingredients to make up for it, but it’s worth the sodium savings. To make it even healthier and easier, this modified version trims more calories and extra ingredients.

• 1.5-2 pounds lean beef stew meat (or lean beef round steak)
• 12 ounces white mushrooms, cleaned and pre-sliced
• ½ – 1 cup diced yellow onion (adjust the amount based on preference)
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic (frozen or jarred would work too)
• 1 1/2 cups fat-free, low-sodium beef broth
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
• 4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese or one-third less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
• 8 ounces light sour cream
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• Bag of whole wheat egg noodles

1) Place beef, mushrooms, and garlic in Crock Pot.
2) In a medium bowl, mix together beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, thyme, and flour. Whisk mixture until flour is dissolved. Pour into Crock Pot and stir all ingredients until coated.
3) Place lid on Crock Pot and cook for 8-10 hours on low (or 4-5 hours on high).
4) About 20 minutes before serving time, start boiling water to cook whole wheat egg noodles according to package directions.
5) Also add cream cheese to Crock Pot, replace lid, and after 10 minutes stir warmed/softened cream cheese into sauce, pushing with the back of a spoon to break it up and incorporate it into sauce.
6) Stir sour cream into sauce. Replace lid and cook on low for a few more minutes until heated through.
7) Season beef stroganoff with salt and pepper as desired and serve over hot egg noodles.

Editor’s Note:
Caryn Huneke is a Registered Dietitian at Northern Westchester Hospital.

If you have any tried-and-true Crock Pot recipes, please send them to for possible inclusion on our website’s recipe page. Be sure to include your name for proper acknowledgement.


African Americans and Heart Disease

Posted on: February 20, 2015

Beating Heart Disease When the Risks are High

By Dr. Robert Pilchik

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, according to the American Heart Association. It takes more lives than all cancers combined. For African-Americans,

Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC Chief, Cardiology Northern Westchester Hospital

Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC
Chief, Cardiology
Northern Westchester Hospital

the disease is particularly deadly: Before the age of 50, African-American’s rate of heart failure is 20 times higher than Caucasians, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Despite the grim nature of these statistics, there is hope.

Many of the major risks for African-Americans are modifiable with lifestyle changes and, when warranted, drug treatment. African-Americans tend to have higher blood pressure on average than other populations; they are also more likely to have dangerous cholesterol levels, suffer from chronic kidney disease, and struggle with weight issues.

“Just losing five to 10 percent of your bodyweight
can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.”

One well-established cause of high blood pressure is sodium—salt—in the diet, and research suggests that African-Americans may carry a gene that makes them more salt sensitive. By choosing low-sodium foods and eating more fruits and vegetables, blood pressure can be lowered.

Regular exercise—even daily walks—can also reduce blood pressure. If a patient’s blood pressure doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes or is already dangerously high, it can be controlled with safe and proven medications.

African-Americans also tend to have lower levels of the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Again, a healthy diet with lots of produce and lean protein such as poultry along with regular exercise can have a significant impact in improving cholesterol numbers. What’s more, statin drugs are very effective in lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.

Weight, another risk factor for stroke and heart disease, can also be managed with lifestyle changes. Just losing five to 10 percent of your bodyweight can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease. Shedding pounds can also lower the risk of diabetes, which also increases the likelihood of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Diabetes is another chronic disease that is higher in African-Americans: Their risk is about double that of non-Hispanic whites.

Visit your physician to learn more about your risk for heart disease and stroke. Understand your factors and put a plan in place to address them. Northern Westchester Hospital offers programs on a variety of chronic diseases as well as FREE tobacco cessation programs (smoking can dramatically raise your risk of heart problems and stroke) that can be incorporated into your personal healthcare plan. Give yourself the gift of health this year – even a few simple improvements will make a big difference to your wellbeing.

Stop heart disease before it’s started. Visit and get an assessment of your heart health.

Editor’s Note:
Robert Pilchik, MD, FACC is Chief of Cardiology of Northern Westchester Hospital. He is known for his compassion and for helping patients understand their cardiac health. In addition to clinical cardiology, Dr. Pilchik performs diagnostic cardiac catheterizations; cardioversions; transthoracic, transesophageal and stress echocardiograms; transvenous pacemakers; cardiac CTA/calcium scoring; and nuclear stress testing. Dr. Pilchik is a member of Westchester Health with offices in Mt. Kisco, Yorktown Heights and Valhalla.

Read more blog posts on heart health.

Northern Westchester Hospital
offers a Tobacco Cessation Clinic — at NO Charge — to all community memebers. Please call
Jennifer Lucas at 914-6666-1868 for more information.

Learn about cardiac rehabilitation services at Northern Westchester.