Items in AFP with MESH term: Decision Trees

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Lymphadenopathy and Malignancy - Article

ABSTRACT: The majority of patients presenting with peripheral lymphadenopathy have easily identifiable causes that are benign or self-limited. Among primary care patients presenting with lymphadenopathy, the prevalence of malignancy has been estimated to be as low as 1.1 percent. The critical challenge for the primary care physician is to identify which cases are secondary to malignancies or other serious conditions. Key risk factors for malignancy include older age, firm, fixed nodal character, duration of greater than two weeks, and supraclavicular location. Knowledge of these risk factors is critical to determining the management of unexplained lymphadenopathy. In addition, a complete exposure history, review of associated symptoms, and a thorough regional examination help determine whether lymphadenopathy is of benign or malignant origin. Unexplained lymphadenopathy without signs or symptoms of serious disease or malignancy can be observed for one month, after which specific testing or biopsy should be performed. While modern hematopathologic technologies have improved the diagnostic yields of fine-needle aspiration, excisional biopsy remains the initial diagnostic procedure of choice. The overall evaluation of lymphadenopathy, with a focus on findings suggestive of malignancy, as well as an approach to the patient with unexplained lymphadenopathy, will be reviewed.


Diagnostic Approach to Tinnitus - Article

ABSTRACT: Tinnitus is a common disorder with many possible causes. Most cases of tinnitus are subjective, but occasionally the tinnitus can be heard by an examiner. Otologic problems, especially hearing loss, are the most common causes of subjective tinnitus. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include external ear infection, cerumen impaction, and middle ear effusion. Sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by exposure to excessive loud noise, presbycusis, ototoxic medications, or Meniere's disease. Unilateral hearing loss plus tinnitus should increase suspicion for acoustic neuroma. Subjective tinnitus also may be caused by neurologic, metabolic, or psychogenic disorders. Objective tinnitus usually is caused by vascular abnormalities of the carotid artery or jugular venous systems. Initial evaluation of tinnitus should include a thorough history, head and neck examination, and audiometric testing to identify an underlying etiology. Unilateral or pulsatile tinnitus may be caused by more serious pathology and typically merits specialized audiometric testing and radiologic studies. In patients who are discomforted by tinnitus and have no remediable cause, auditory masking may provide some relief.


Diagnosis of Acute Coronary Syndrome - Article

ABSTRACT: The term 'acute coronary syndrome' encompasses a range of thrombotic coronary artery diseases, including unstable angina and both ST-segment elevation and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. Diagnosis requires an electrocardiogram and a careful review for signs and symptoms of cardiac ischemia. In acute coronary syndrome, common electrocardiographic abnormalities include T-wave tenting or inversion, ST-segment elevation or depression (including J-point elevation in multiple leads), and pathologic Q waves. Risk stratification allows appropriate referral of patients to a chest pain center or emergency department, where cardiac enzyme levels can be assessed. Most high-risk patients should be hospitalized. Intermediate-risk patients should undergo a structured evaluation, often in a chest pain unit. Many low-risk patients can be discharged with appropriate follow-up. Troponin T or I generally is the most sensitive determinant of acute coronary syndrome, although the MB isoenzyme of creatine kinase also is used. Early markers of acute ischemia include myoglobin and creatine kinase-MB subforms (or isoforms), when available. In the future, advanced diagnostic modalities, such as myocardial perfusion imaging, may have a role in reducing unnecessary hospitalizations.


Management of Genital Warts - Article

ABSTRACT: Genital warts caused by human papillomavirus infection are encountered commonly in primary care. Evidence guiding treatment selection is limited, but treatment guidelines recently have changed. Biopsy, viral typing, acetowhite staining, and other diagnostic measures are not routinely required. The goal of treatment is clearance of visible warts; some evidence exists that treatment reduces infectivity, but there is no evidence that treatment reduces the incidence of cervical and genital cancer. The choice of therapy is based on the number, size, site, and morphology of lesions, as well as patient preferences, cost, convenience, adverse effects, and clinician experience. Patient-applied therapy such as imiquimod cream or podofilox is increasingly recommended. Podofilox, imiquimod, surgical excision, and cryotherapy are the most convenient and effective options. Fluorouracil and interferon are no longer recommended for routine use. The cost per successful treatment course is approximately dollars 200 to dollars 300 for podofilox, cryotherapy, electrodesiccation, surgical excision, laser treatment, and the loop electrosurgical excision procedure.


Diagnosis and Treatment of Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas - Article

ABSTRACT: Rates of squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas have been increasing, possibly as a result of increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Primary care physicians can expect to diagnose six to seven cases of basal cell carcinoma and one to two cases of squamous cell carcinoma each year. Basal cell carcinomas may be plaque-like or nodular with a waxy, translucent appearance, often with ulceration and telangiectasia. They rarely metastasize and are treated with excision, cryotherapy, electrodesiccation and cautery, imiquimod, 5-fluorouracil, or photodynamic therapy (the latter is not approved for this purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), although surgery results in the fewest recurrences. Actinic keratoses are scaly keratotic patches that often are more easily felt than seen. They are amenable to any of the destructive techniques described above, with the exception of photodynamic therapy. Squamous cell carcinomas arise from keratotic patches and become more nodular and erythematous with growth, sometimes including keratin plugs, horns, or ulceration. Because they may metastasize, they often are treated with excisional biopsy.


Mildly Elevated Liver Transaminase Levels in the Asymptomatic Patient - Article

ABSTRACT: Mild elevations in liver chemistry tests such as alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase can reveal serious underlying conditions or have transient and benign etiologies. Potential causes of liver transaminase elevations include viral hepatitis, alcohol use, medication use, steatosis or steatohepatitis, and cirrhosis. The history should be thorough, with special attention given to the use of medications, vitamins, herbs, drugs, and alcohol; family history; and any history of blood-product transfusions. Other common health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid disease, can cause or augment liver transaminase elevations. The recent American Gastroenterological Association guideline regarding the evaluation and management of abnormal liver chemistry tests proposes a practical, algorithmic approach when the history and physical examination do not reveal the cause. In addition to liver chemistries, an initial serologic evaluation includes a prothrombin time; albumin; complete blood count with platelets; hepatitis A, B, and C serologies; and iron studies. Depending on the etiology, management strategies may include cessation of alcohol use, attention to medications, control of diabetes, and modification of lifestyle factors such as obesity. If elevations persist after an appropriate period of observation, further testing may include ultrasonography and other serum studies. In some cases, biopsy may be indicated.


Diagnosis of Heart Failure in Adults - Article

ABSTRACT: Heart failure is a common, progressive, complex clinical syndrome with high morbidity and mortality. Coronary artery disease is its most common cause. The evaluation of symptomatic patients with suspected heart failure is directed at confirming the diagnosis, determining the cause, identifying concomitant illnesses, establishing the severity of heart failure, and guiding therapy. The initial evaluation should include a focused history and physical examination, a chest radiograph, and an electrocardiogram. The presence of heart failure can be confirmed by an echocardiogram. Heart failure is highly unlikely in the absence of dyspnea and an abnormal chest radiograph or electrocardiogram. Radionuclide angiography or contrast cineangiography may be necessary when clinical suspicion for heart failure is high and the echocardiogram is equivocal. Patients with confirmed heart failure should undergo additional testing, including a more detailed history and physical examination; a complete blood count; blood glucose measurement; liver function tests; serum electrolyte, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine measurements; lipid panel; urinalysis; and thyroid-stimulating hormone level. A serum ferritin level, human immunodeficiency virus test, antinuclear antibody assays, rheumatoid factor test, or metanephrine measurements may be required in selected patients. Patients with coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, exposure to cardiotoxic drugs, alcohol abuse, or a family history of cardiomyopathy are at high risk for heart failure and may benefit from routine screening.


Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothermia - Article

ABSTRACT: Although hypothermia is most common in patients who are exposed to a cold environment, it can develop secondary to toxin exposure, metabolic derangements, infections, and dysfunction of the central nervous and endocrine systems. The clinical presentation of hypothermia includes a spectrum of symptoms and is grouped into the following three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. Management depends on the degree of hypothermia present. Treatment modalities range from noninvasive, passive external warming techniques (e.g., removal of cold, wet clothing; movement to a warm environment) to active external rewarming (e.g., insulation with warm blankets) to active core rewarming (e.g., warmed intravenous fluid infusions, heated humidified oxygen, body cavity lavage, and extracorporeal blood warming). Mild to moderate hypothermia is treated easily with supportive care in most clinical settings and has good patient outcomes. The treatment of severe hypothermia is more complex, and outcomes depend heavily on clinical resources. Prevention and recognition of atypical presentations are essential to reducing the rates of morbidity and mortality associated with this condition.


Outpatient Treatment of Systolic Heart Failure - Article

ABSTRACT: Optimal outpatient treatment of systolic heart failure has three goals that should be pursued simultaneously: (1) control of risk factors for the development and progression of heart failure, (2) treatment of heart failure, and (3) education of patients. Control of risk factors includes treating hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, and eliminating the use of alcohol and tobacco. All patients with heart failure should be taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker. In the absence of contraindications, an ACE inhibitor is preferred. In most patients, physicians should consider adding a beta blocker to ACE-inhibitor therapy. In patients with severe heart failure, spironolactone is a useful addition to baseline drug therapy, as is carvedilol (substitute carvedilol if patient is already taking a beta blocker). Patients with stable heart failure should be encouraged to begin and maintain a regular aerobic exercise program. Digoxin therapy may reduce the likelihood of hospitalization but does not reduce mortality. It must be monitored closely, with a target dosage level of 0.5 to 1.1 ng per mL. Symptoms may be controlled with the use of diuretics and restricted dietary sodium. Finally, patient education, with the patient's active participation in the care, is a key strategy in the management of heart failure. Periodic follow-up between scheduled office visits, which is essential in the long-term management of heart failure, may include telephone calls from the office nurse, maintenance of a daily symptom and weight diary, and participation in a disease-management program.


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.


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