Items in AFP with MESH term: Decision Trees

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Ectopic Pregnancy - Article

ABSTRACT: Ectopic pregnancy occurs at a rate of 19.7 cases per 1,000 pregnancies in North America and is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the first trimester. Greater awareness of risk factors and improved technology (biochemical markers and ultrasonography) allow ectopic pregnancy to be identified before the development of life-threatening events. The evaluation may include a combination of determination of urine and serum human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels, serum progesterone levels, ultrasonography, culdocentesis and laparoscopy. Key to the diagnosis is determination of the presence or absence of an intrauterine gestational sac correlated with quantitative serum beta-subunit hCG (beta-hCG) levels. An ectopic pregnancy should be suspected if transvaginal ultrasonography shows no intrauterine gestational sac when the beta-hCG level is higher than 1,500 mlU per mL (1,500 IU per L). If the beta-hCG level plateaus or fails to double in 48 hours and the ultrasound examination fails to identify an intrauterine gestational sac, uterine curettage may determine the presence or absence of chorionic villi. Although past treatment consisted of an open laparotomy and salpingectomy, current laparoscopic techniques for unruptured ectopic pregnancy emphasize tubal preservation. Other treatment options include the use of methotrexate therapy for small, unruptured ectopic pregnancies in hemodynamically stable patients. Expectant management may have a role when beta-hCG levels are low and declining.


Down Syndrome: Prenatal Risk Assessment and Diagnosis - Article

ABSTRACT: Down syndrome (trisomy 21) is the most commonly recognized genetic cause of mental retardation. The risk of trisomy 21 is directly related to maternal age. All forms of prenatal testing for Down syndrome must be voluntary. A nondirective approach should be used when presenting patients with options for prenatal screening and diagnostic testing. Patients who will be 35 years or older on their due date should be offered chorionic villus sampling or second-trimester amniocentesis. Women younger than 35 years should be offered maternal serum screening at 16 to 18 weeks of gestation. The maternal serum markers used to screen for trisomy 21 are alpha-fetoprotein, unconjugated estriol and human chorionic gonadotropin. The use of ultrasound to estimate gestational age improves the sensitivity and specificity of maternal serum screening.


The Undescended Testicle: Diagnosis and Management - Article

ABSTRACT: Early diagnosis and management of the undescended testicle are needed to preserve fertility and improve early detection of testicular malignancy. Physical examination of the testicle can be difficult; consultation should be considered if a normal testis cannot be definitely identified. Observation is not recommended beyond one year of age because it delays treatment, lowers the rate of surgical success and probably impairs spermatogenesis. By six months of age, patients with undescended testicles should be evaluated by a pediatric urologist or other qualified subspecialist who can assist with diagnosis and treatment. Earlier referral may be warranted for bilateral nonpalpable testes in the newborn or for any child with both hypospadias and an undescended testis. Therapy for an undescended testicle should begin between six months and two years of age and may consist of hormone or surgical treatment. The success of either form of treatment depends on the position of the testicle at diagnosis. Recent improvements in surgical technique, including laparoscopic approaches to diagnosis and treatment, hold the promise of improved outcomes. While orchiopexy may not protect patients from developing testicular malignancy, the procedure allows for earlier detection through self-examination of the testicles.


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.


Diagnosis of Vaginitis - Article

ABSTRACT: Vaginitis is the most common gynecologic diagnosis in the primary care setting. In approximately 90 percent of affected women, this condition occurs secondary to bacterial vaginosis, vulvovaginal candidiasis or trichomoniasis. Vaginitis develops when the vaginal flora has been altered by introduction of a pathogen or by changes in the vaginal environment that allow pathogens to proliferate. The evaluation of vaginitis requires a directed history and physical examination, with focus on the site of involvement and the characteristics of the vaginal discharge. The laboratory evaluation includes microscopic examination of a saline wet-mount preparation and a potassium hydroxide preparation, a litmus test for the pH of vaginal secretions and a "whiff" test. Metronidazole is the primary treatment for bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis. Topical antifungal agents are the first-line treatments for candidal vaginitis.


Medical Management of Obesity - Article

ABSTRACT: Obesity is one of the most common medical problems in the United States and a risk factor for illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, degenerative arthritis and myocardial infarction. It is a cause of significant morbidity and mortality and generates great social and financial costs. Obesity is defined as a body mass index greater than 30. Many patients accomplish weight loss with diet, exercise and lifestyle modification. Others require more aggressive therapy. Weight loss medications may be appropriate for use in selected patients who meet the definition of obesity or who are overweight with comorbid conditions. Medications are formulated to reduce energy intake, increase energy output or decrease the absorption of nutrients. Drugs cannot replace diet, exercise and lifestyle modification, which remain the cornerstones of obesity treatment. Two new agents, sibutramine and orlistat, exhibit novel mechanisms of action and avoid some of the side effects that occurred with earlier drugs. Sibutramine acts to block uptake of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, while orlistat decreases fat absorption in the intestines.


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.


Depression and Sexual Desire - Article

ABSTRACT: Decreased libido disproportionately affects patients with depression. The relationship between depression and decreased libido may be blurred, but treating one condition frequently improves the other. Medications used to treat depression may decrease libido and sexual function. Frequently, patients do not volunteer problems related to sexuality, and physicians rarely ask about such problems. Asking a depressed patient about libido and sexual function and tailoring treatment to minimize adverse effects on sexual function can significantly increase treatment compliance and improve the quality of the patient's life.


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.


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.


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