Items in AFP with MESH term: Algorithms

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Prevention of Falls in Older Patients - Article

ABSTRACT: Falls are one of the most common geriatric syndromes threatening the independence of older persons. Between 30 and 40 percent of community-dwelling adults older than 65 years fall each year, and the rates are higher for nursing home residents. Falls are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and nursing home placement. Most falls have multiple causes. Risk factors for falls include muscle weakness, a history of falls, use of four or more prescription medications, use of an assistive device, arthritis, depression, age older than 80 years, and impairments in gait, balance, cognition, vision, and activities of daily living. Physicians caring for older patients should ask about any falls that have occurred in the past year. Assessment should include evaluating the circumstances of the fall and a complete history and physical examination, looking for potential risk factors. The most effective fall prevention strategies are multifactorial interventions targeting identified risk factors, exercises for muscle strengthening combined with balance training, and withdrawal of psychotropic medication. Home hazard assessment and modification by a health professional also is helpful.


Diagnosis of Lyme Disease - Article

ABSTRACT: The use of serologic testing and its value in the diagnosis of Lyme disease remain confusing and controversial for physicians, especially concerning persons who are at low risk for the disease. The approach to diagnosing Lyme disease varies depending on the probability of disease (based on endemicity and clinical findings) and the stage at which the disease may be. In patients from endemic areas, Lyme disease may be diagnosed on clinical grounds alone in the presence of erythema migrans. These patients do not require serologic testing, although it may be considered according to patient preference. When the pretest probability is moderate (e.g., in a patient from a highly or moderately endemic area who has advanced manifestations of Lyme disease), serologic testing should be performed with the complete two-step approach in which a positive or equivocal serology is followed by a more specific Western blot test. Samples drawn from patients within four weeks of disease onset are tested by Western blot technique for both immunoglobulin M and immunoglobulin G antibodies; samples drawn more than four weeks after disease onset are tested for immunoglobulin G only. Patients who show no objective signs of Lyme disease have a low probability of the disease, and serologic testing in this group should be kept to a minimum because of the high risk of false-positive results. When unexplained non-specific systemic symptoms such as myalgia, fatigue, and paresthesias have persisted for a long time in a person from an endemic area, serologic testing should be performed with the complete two-step approach described above.


Foreign Body Ingestion in Children - Article

ABSTRACT: Because many patients who have swallowed foreign bodies are asymptomatic, physicians must maintain a high index of suspicion. The majority of ingested foreign bodies pass spontaneously, but serious complications, such as bowel perforation and obstruction, can occur. Foreign bodies lodged in the esophagus should be removed endoscopically, but some small, blunt objects may be pulled out using a Foley catheter or pushed into the stomach using bougienage [corrected] Once they are past the esophagus, large or sharp foreign bodies should be removed if reachable by endoscope. Small, smooth objects and all objects that have passed the duodenal sweep should be managed conservatively by radiographic surveillance and inspection of stool. Endoscopic or surgical intervention is indicated if significant symptoms develop or if the object fails to progress through the gastrointestinal tract.


Diagnosis and Management of Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections - Article

ABSTRACT: Most uncomplicated urinary tract infections occur in women who are sexually active, with far fewer cases occurring in older women, those who are pregnant, and in men. Although the incidence of urinary tract infection has not changed substantially over the last 10 years, the diagnostic criteria, bacterial resistance patterns, and recommended treatment have changed. Escherichia coli is the leading cause of urinary tract infections, followed by Staphylococcus saprophyticus. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole has been the standard therapy for urinary tract infection; however, E. coli is becoming increasingly resistant to medications. Many experts support using ciprofloxacin as an alternative and, in some cases, as the preferred first-line agent. However, others caution that widespread use of ciprofloxacin will promote increased resistance.


Vasomotor Rhinitis - Article

ABSTRACT: Vasomotor rhinitis affects millions of Americans and results in significant symptomatology. Characterized by a combination of symptoms that includes nasal obstruction and rhinorrhea, vasomotor rhinitis is a diagnosis of exclusion reached after taking a careful history, performing a physical examination, and, in select cases, testing the patient with known allergens. According to a 2002 evidence report published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), there is insufficient evidence to reliably differentiate between allergic and nonallergic rhinitis based on signs and symptoms alone. The minimum level of diagnostic testing needed to differentiate between the two types of rhinitis also has not been established. An algorithm is presented that is based on a targeted history and physical examination and a stepwise approach to management that reflects the AHRQ evidence report and U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals. Specific approaches to the management of rhinitis in children, athletes, pregnant women, and older adults are discussed.


Hemoptysis: Diagnosis and Management - Article

ABSTRACT: Hemoptysis is the spitting of blood that originated in the lungs or bronchial tubes. The patient's history should help determine the amount of blood and differentiate between hemoptysis, pseudohemoptysis, and hematemesis. A focused physical examination can lead to the diagnosis in most cases. In children, lower respiratory tract infection and foreign body aspiration are common causes. In adults, bronchitis, bronchogenic carcinoma, and pneumonia are the major causes. Chest radiographs often aid in diagnosis and assist in using two complementary diagnostic procedures, fiberoptic bronchoscopy and high-resolution computed tomography, which are useful in difficult cases and when malignancy is suspected. The goals of management are threefold: bleeding cessation, aspiration prevention, and treatment of the underlying cause. Mild hemoptysis often is caused by an infection that can be managed on an outpatient basis with dose monitoring. If hemoptysis persists, consulting with a pulmonologist should be considered. Patients with risk factors for malignancy or recurrent hemoptysis also require further evaluation with fiberoptic bronchoscopy or high-resolution computed tomography. In up to 34 percent of patients, no cause of hemoptysis can be found.


Management of Spontaneous Abortion - Article

ABSTRACT: Spontaneous abortion, which is the loss of a pregnancy without outside intervention before 20 weeks' gestation, affects up to 20 percent of recognized pregnancies. Spontaneous abortion can be subdivided into threatened abortion, inevitable abortion, incomplete abortion, missed abortion, septic abortion, complete abortion, and recurrent spontaneous abortion. Ultrasonography is helpful in the diagnosis of spontaneous abortion, but other testing may be needed if an ectopic pregnancy cannot be ruled out. Chromosomal abnormalities are causative in approximately 50 percent of spontaneous abortions; multiple other factors also may play a role. Traditional treatment consisting of surgical evacuation of the uterus remains the treatment of choice in unstable patients. Recent studies suggest that expectant or medical management is appropriate in selected patients. Patients with a completed spontaneous abortion rarely require medical or surgical intervention. For women with incomplete spontaneous abortion, expectant management for up to two weeks usually is successful, and medical therapy provides little additional benefit. When patients are allowed to choose between treatment options, a large percentage will choose expectant management. Expectant management of missed spontaneous abortion has variable success rates, but medical therapy with intravaginal misoprostol has an 80 percent success rate. Physicians should be aware of psychologic issues that patients and their partners face after completing a spontaneous abortion. Women are at increased risk for significant depression and anxiety for up to one year after spontaneous abortion. Counseling to address feelings of guilt, the grief process, and how to cope with friends and family should be provided.


Subclinical Thyroid Disease - Article

ABSTRACT: Subclinical thyroid dysfunction is defined as an abnormal serum thyroid-stimulating hormone level (reference range: 0.45 to 4.50 microU per mL) and free thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels within their reference ranges. The management of subclinical thyroid dysfunction is controversial. The prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism is about 4 to 8.5 percent, and may be as high as 20 percent in women older than 60 years. Subclinical hyperthyroidism is found in approximately 2 percent of the population. Most national organizations recommend against routine screening of asymptomatic patients, but screening is recommended for high-risk populations. There is good evidence that subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with progression to overt disease. Patients with a serum thyroid-stimulating hormone level greater than 10 microU per mL have a higher incidence of elevated serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations; however, evidence is lacking for other associations. There is insufficient evidence that treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism is beneficial. A serum thyroid-stimulating hormone level of less than 0.1 microU per mL is associated with progression to overt hyperthyroidism, atrial fibrillation, reduced bone mineral density, and cardiac dysfunction. There is little evidence that early treatment alters the clinical course.


Evaluation of Syncope - Article

ABSTRACT: Though relatively common, syncope is a complex presenting symptom defined by a transient loss of consciousness, usually accompanied by falling, and with spontaneous recovery. Syncope must be carefully differentiated from other conditions that may cause a loss of consciousness or falling. Syncope can be classified into four categories: reflex mediated, cardiac, orthostatic, and cerebrovascular. A cardiac cause of syncope is associated with significantly higher rates of morbidity and mortality than other causes. The evaluation of syncope begins with a careful history, physical examination, and electrocardiography. Additional testing should be based on the initial clinical evaluation. Older patients and those with underlying organic heart disease or abnormal electrocardiograms generally will need additional cardiac evaluation, which may include prolonged electrocardiographic monitoring, echocardiography, and exercise stress testing. When structural heart disease is excluded, tests for neurogenic reflex-mediated syncope, such as head-up tilt-table testing and carotid sinus massage, should be performed. The use of tests such as head computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, carotid and transcranial ultrasonography, and electroencephalography to detect cerebrovascular causes of syncope should be reserved for those few patients with syncope whose history suggests a neurologic event or who have focal neurologic signs or symptoms.


Diagnosing the Cause of Chest Pain - Article

ABSTRACT: Chest pain presents a diagnostic challenge in outpatient family medicine. Noncardiac causes are common, but it is important not to overlook serious conditions such as an acute coronary syndrome, pulmonary embolism, or pneumonia. In addition to a thorough history and physical examination, most patients should have a chest radiograph and an electrocardiogram. Patients with chest pain that is predictably exertional, with electrocardiogram abnormalities, or with cardiac risk factors should be evaluated further with measurement of troponin levels and cardiac stress testing. Risk of pulmonary embolism can be determined with a simple prediction rule, and a D-dimer assay can help determine whether further evaluation with helical computed tomography or venous ultrasound is needed. Fever, egophony, and dullness to percussion suggest pneumonia, which can be confirmed with chest radiograph. Although some patients with chest pain have heart failure, this is unlikely in the absence of dyspnea; a brain natriuretic peptide level measurement can clarify the diagnosis. Pain reproducible by palpation is more likely to be musculoskeletal than ischemic. Chest pain also may be associated with panic disorder, for which patients can be screened with a two-item questionnaire. Clinical prediction rules can help clarify many of these diagnoses.


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