Health Highlights: March 28, 2014

Obamacare Support Hits Lowest Level: Survey Ebola Cases Reported in Guinea Capital Woman's Skull Implant Made With 3-D Printer

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Obamacare Support Hits Lowest Level: Survey

Support for the Affordable Care Act is at its lowest level since it was passed four years ago, according to a new survey.

Only 26 percent of Americans support the health care law, but just 13 percent believe it will be completely repealed, the Associated Press-GfK poll found.

About 72 percent of respondents said the law -- widely referred to as Obamacare -- will be implemented with changes. Forty-two percent predicted minor changes while 30 percent believed major changes would occur.

Only five percent of people said the launch of the insurance exchanges has gone very or extremely well. But the number who said it has gone at least somewhat well rose from 12 percent in December to 26 percent now, the survey found.

Problems were reported by 59 percent of respondents who said they or someone in their household had tried signing up for insurance coverage.

The survey was conducted before the Obama administration announced this week that the new health insurance markets had exceeded the goal of 6 million sign-ups, the AP reported.

Soon after the health care law was passed in April 2010, 50 percent of Americans opposed it, 39 percent supported it, and 10 percent were unsure how they felt about it.

Along with finding that 26 percent of people now support the law, the new survey also found that 43 percent are opposed and that 30 percent are undecided. Polls in December and January found that support for the law was about 27 percent, the AP reported.

The new survey involved online interviews with 1,012 adults and was conducted March 20-24.

House Republicans have tried more than 50 times to repeal, defund or scale back the Affordable Care Act, but have been thwarted by Senate Democrats.


Ebola Cases Reported in Guinea Capital

An Ebola epidemic that began in Guinea's southern forests has spread to the country's capital city Conakry.

Four people from the city of two million are believed to have been infected with the highly contagious and deadly virus when they attended the funeral of a brother in central Guinea. They have been placed in isolation, Agence France-Presse reported.

"Intensive case investigations are underway to identify the source and route of these patients' infection, record their travel histories before arrival in Conakry and determine their period of infectivity for the purposes of contact tracing," the World Health Organization said in a statement.

Fifteen new confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola, including the four cases in Conakry, were reported on Thursday in the west African nation. That brings the total number of cases in Guinea to 103. There have been at least 66 deaths, AFP reported.

Other suspected cases are being investigated in neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.


Woman's Skull Implant Made With 3-D Printer

In a world-first, doctors have replaced most of a person's skull with a plastic one made with a 3-D printer.

The 23-hour surgery on the 22-year-old woman was conducted three months ago at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. Doctors say the woman is doing fine, NBC News reported.

She had a thickening of the skull that caused severe headaches, vision loss, and motor coordination problems. Eventually, other brain functions would have been affected, according to neurologist Dr. Ben Verweij.

In a procedure that likely saved the woman's life, the surgeons replaced a large part of her skull with the 3-D printed plastic implant, NBC News reported.

"We used to create an implant by hand in the operating theater using a kind of cement, but those implants did not have a very good fit," Verweij said in a medical center news release.

"Now we can use 3-D printing to ensure that these components are an exact fit. This has major advantages, not only cosmetically but also because patients often have better brain function compared with the old method," he explained.

"The patient has fully regained her vision, she has no more complaints, she's gone back to work and there are almost no traces that she had any surgery at all," said Verweij, NBC News reported.

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