Items in AFP with MESH term: Decision Trees
ABSTRACT: Family physicians often encounter patients with acute knee trauma. Radiographs of injured knees are commonly ordered, even though fractures are found in only 6 percent of such patients and emergency department physicians can usually discriminate clinically between fracture and nonfracture. Decision rules have been developed to reduce the unnecessary use of radiologic studies in patients with acute knee injury. The Ottawa knee rules and the Pittsburgh decision rules are the latest guidelines for the selective use of radiographs in knee trauma. Application of these rules may lead to a more efficient evaluation of knee injuries and a reduction in health costs without an increase in adverse outcomes.
ABSTRACT: Although heart failure is a common clinical syndrome, especially in the elderly, its diagnosis is often missed. A detailed clinical history is crucial and should address not only current signs and symptoms of heart failure but also signs and symptoms that point to a specific cause of the syndrome, such as coronary artery disease, hypertension or valvular heart disease. It is important to determine whether the patient has had a previous cardiac event, in particular a myocardial infarction. The physical examination should include Valsalva's maneuver, a test that is highly specific and sensitive for the detection of left ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction in patients with heart failure. An electrocardiograph and a chest radiograph should also be obtained. Two-dimensional echocardiography of the heart helps differentiate systolic from diastolic dysfunction. Coronary angiography is indicated in patients with heart failure and anginal chest pain and should be strongly considered in patients with an electrocardiogram suggestive of ischemia or myocardial infarction.
ABSTRACT: When a toxic newborn or young infant presents with fever and lethargy or irritability, it is important to consider the diagnosis of meningitis even if the classic localizing signs and symptoms are absent. Cerebrospinal fluid should be obtained (unless lumbar puncture is clinically contraindicated) to enable initial therapy to be planned. Initial results of cerebrospinal fluid testing may not conclusively differentiate between aseptic and bacterial meningitis, and antimicrobial therapy for all likely organisms should be instituted until definitive culture results are available. Comprehensive therapy, including antibacterial and antiviral agents, should continue until a cause is identified and more specific therapy is initiated, an etiology is excluded or the patient improves considerably and the course of antimicrobial therapy is completed. Group B streptococcus is the most common bacterial etiologic agent in cases of meningitis that occur during the first month after birth. Etiologies of aseptic meningitis include viral infection, partially treated bacterial meningitis, congenital infections, drug reactions, postvaccination complications, systemic diseases and malignancy. Long-term sequelae of meningitis include neuromuscular impairments, learning disabilities and hearing loss. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential to improved outcome.
ABSTRACT: Spurred by mounting evidence that the detection and treatment of early-stage colorectal cancers and adenomatous polyps can reduce mortality, Medicare and some other payors recently authorized reimbursement for colorectal cancer screening in persons at average risk for this malignancy. A collaborative group of experts convened by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has recommended screening for average-risk persons over the age of 50 years using one of the following techniques: fecal occult blood testing each year, flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, fecal occult blood testing every year combined with flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, double-contrast barium enema every five to 10 years or colonoscopy every 10 years. Screening of persons with risk factors should begin at an earlier age, depending on the family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. These recommendations augment the colorectal cancer screening guidelines of the American Academy of Family physicians. Recent advances in genetic research have made it possible to identify persons at high risk for colorectal cancer because of an inherited predisposition to develop this malignancy. These patients require aggressive screening, usually by lower endoscopy performed at an early age. In some patients, genetic testing can guide screening and may be cost-effective.
The Evaluation of Common Breast Problems - Article
ABSTRACT: The most common breast problems for which women consult a physician are breast pain, nipple discharge and a palpable mass. Most women with these complaints have benign breast disease. Breast pain alone is rarely a presenting symptom of cancer, and imaging studies should be reserved for use in women who fall within usual screening guidelines. A nipple discharge can be characterized as physiologic or pathologic based on the findings of the history and physical examination. A pathologic discharge is an indication for terminal duct excision. A dominant breast mass requires histologic diagnosis. A breast cyst can be diagnosed and treated by aspiration. The management of a solid mass depends on the degree of clinical suspicion and the patient's age.
ABSTRACT: Atopic dermatitis is a common, potentially debilitating condition that can compromise quality of life. Its most frequent symptom is pruritus. Attempts to relieve the itch by scratching simply worsen the rash, creating a vicious circle. Treatment should be directed at limiting itching, repairing the skin and decreasing inflammation when necessary. Lubricants, antihistamines and topical corticosteroids are the mainstays of therapy. When required, oral corticosteroids can be used. If pruritus does not respond to treatment, other diagnoses, such as bacterial overgrowth or viral infections, should be considered. Treatment options are available for refractory atopic dermatitis, but these measures should be reserved for use in unique situations and typically require consultation with a dermatologist or an allergist.
Evaluation and Management of Dyspepsia - Article
ABSTRACT: Dyspepsia, often defined as chronic or recurrent discomfort centered in the upper abdomen, can be caused by a variety of conditions. Common etiologies include peptic ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux. Serious causes, such as gastric and pancreatic cancers, are rare but must also be considered. Symptoms of possible causes often overlap, which can make initial diagnosis difficult. In many patients, a definite cause is never established. The initial evaluation of patients with dyspepsia includes a thorough history and physical examination, with special attention given to elements that suggest the presence of serious disease. Endoscopy should be performed promptly in patients who have "alarm symptoms" such as melena or anorexia. Optimal management remains controversial in young patients who do not have alarm symptoms. Although management should be individualized, a cost-effective initial approach is to test for Helicobacter pylori and treat the infection if the test is positive. If the H. pylori test is negative, empiric therapy with a gastric acid suppressant or prokinetic agent is recommended. If symptoms persist or recur after six to eight weeks of empiric therapy, endoscopy should be performed.
ABSTRACT: Knee effusions may be the result of trauma, overuse or systemic disease. An understanding of knee pathoanatomy is an invaluable part of making the correct diagnosis and formulating a treatment plan. Taking a thorough medical history is the key component of the evaluation. The most common traumatic causes of knee effusion are ligamentous, osseous and meniscal injuries, and overuse syndromes. Atraumatic etiologies include arthritis, infection, crystal deposition and tumor. It is essential to compare the affected knee with the unaffected knee. Systematic physical examination of the knee, using specific maneuvers, and the appropriate use of diagnostic imaging studies and arthrocentesis establish the correct diagnosis and treatment.
ABSTRACT: Psoriasis is characterized by red, thickened plaques with a silvery scale. The lesions vary in size and degree of inflammation. Psoriasis is categorized as localized or generalized, based on the severity of the disease and its overall impact on the patient's quality of life and well-being. Patient education about the disease and the treatment options is important. Medical treatment for localized psoriasis begins with a combination of topical corticosteroids and coal tar or calcipotriene. For lesions that are difficult to control with initial therapy, anthralin or tazarotene may be tried. The primary goal of therapy is to maintain control of the lesions. Cure is seldom achieved. If control becomes difficult or if psoriasis is generalized, the patient may benefit from phototherapy, systemic therapy and referral to a physician who specializes in the treatment of psoriasis.
ABSTRACT: Swallowing disorders are common, especially in the elderly, and may cause dehydration, weight loss, aspiration pneumonia and airway obstruction. These disorders may affect the oral preparatory, oral propulsive, pharyngeal and/or esophageal phases of swallowing. Impaired swallowing, or dysphagia, may occur because of a wide variety of structural or functional conditions, including stroke, cancer, neurologic disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease. A thorough history and a careful physical examination are important in the diagnosis and treatment of swallowing disorders. The physical examination should include the neck, mouth, oropharynx and larynx, and a neurologic examination should also be performed. Supplemental studies are usually required. A videofluorographic swallowing study is particularly useful for identifying the pathophysiology of a swallowing disorder and for empirically testing therapeutic and compensatory techniques. Manometry and endoscopy may also be necessary. Disorders of oral and pharyngeal swallowing are usually amenable to rehabilitative measures, which may include dietary modification and training in specific swallowing techniques. Surgery is rarely indicated. In patients with severe disorders, it may be necessary to bypass the oral cavity and pharynx entirely and provide enteral or parenteral nutrition.