Items in AFP with MESH term: Decision Trees

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Adult Rhinosinusitis: Diagnosis and Management - Article

ABSTRACT: Rhinosinusitis can be divided among four subtypes: acute, recurrent acute, subacute and chronic, based on patient history and a limited physical examination. In most instances, therapy is initiated based on this classification. Antibiotic therapy, supplemented by hydration and decongestants, is indicated for seven to 14 days in patients with acute, recurrent acute or subacute bacterial rhinosinusitis. For patients with chronic disease, the same treatment regimen is indicated for an additional four weeks or more, and a nasal steroid may also be prescribed if inhalant allergies are known or suspected. Nasal endoscopy and computed tomography of the sinuses are reserved for circumstances that include a failure to respond to therapy as expected, spread of infection outside the sinuses, a question of diagnosis and when surgery is being considered. Laboratory tests are infrequently necessary and are reserved for patients with suspected allergies, cystic fibrosis, immune deficiencies, mucociliary disorders and similar disease states. Findings on endoscopically guided microswab culture obtained from the middle meatus correlate 80 to 85 percent of the time with results from the more painful antral puncture technique and is performed in patients who fail to respond to the initial antibiotic selection. Surgery is indicated for extranasal spread of infection, evidence of mucocele or pyocele, fungal sinusitis or obstructive nasal polyposis, and is often performed in patients with recurrent or persistent infection not resolved by drug therapy.


Early Diagnosis of Dementia - Article

ABSTRACT: Until recently, the most significant issue facing a family physician regarding the diagnosis and treatment of dementia was ruling out delirium and potentially treatable etiologies. However, as more treatment options become available, it will become increasingly important to diagnose dementia early. Dementia may be suspected if memory deficits are exhibited during the medical history and physical examination. Information from the patient's family members, friends and caregivers may also point to signs of dementia. Distinguishing among age-related cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease may be difficult and requires evaluation of cognitive and functional status. Careful medical evaluation to exclude treatable causes of cognitive impairment is important. Patients with early dementia may benefit from formal neuropsychologic testing to aid in medical and social decision-making. Follow-up by the patient's family physician is appropriate in most patients. However, a subspecialist may be helpful in the diagnosis and management of patients with dementia with an unusual presentation or following an atypical course.


Recognizing Spinal Cord Emergencies - Article

ABSTRACT: Physicians who work in primary care settings and emergency departments frequently evaluate patients with neck and back pain. Spinal cord emergencies are uncommon, but injury must be recognized early so that the diagnosis can be quickly confirmed and treatment can be instituted to possibly prevent permanent loss of function. The differential diagnosis includes spinal cord compression secondary to vertebral fracture or space-occupying lesion, spinal infection or abscess, vascular or hematologic damage, severe disc herniation and spinal stenosis. The most important information in the assessment of a possible spinal cord emergency comes from the history and the clinical evaluation. Physicians must look for "red flags"--key historical and clinical clues that increase the likelihood of a serious underlying disorder. In considering diagnostic tests, physicians should apply the principles outlined in an algorithm for the evaluation of low back pain prepared by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (formerly the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research). Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging can clearly define anatomy, but these studies are costly and have a high false-positive rate. Referral of high-risk patients to a neurologist or spine specialist may be indicated.


Interstitial Cystitis: Urgency and Frequency Syndrome - Article

ABSTRACT: Interstitial cystitis is a chronic, severely debilitating disease of the urinary bladder. Excessive urgency and frequency of urination, suprapubic pain, dyspareunia, chronic pelvic pain and negative urine cultures are characteristic of interstitial cystitis. The course of the disease is usually marked by flare-ups and remissions. Other conditions that should be ruled out include bacterial cystitis, urethritis, neoplasia, vaginitis and vulvar vestibulitis. Interstitial cystitis is diagnosed by cystoscopy and hydrodistention of the bladder. Glomerulations or Hunner's ulcers found at cystoscopy are diagnostic. Oral treatments of interstitial cystitis include pentosan polysulfate, tricyclic antidepressants and antihistamines. Intravesicular therapies include hydrodistention, dimethyl sulfoxide and heparin, or a combination of agents. Referral to a support group should be offered to all patients with interstitial cystitis.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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