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Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis: An Overview - Article
ABSTRACT: In the 1980s, after a steady decline during preceding decades, there was a resurgence in the rate of tuberculosis in the United States that coincided with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic. Disease patterns since have changed, with a higher incidence of disseminated and extrapulmonary disease now found. Extrapulmonary sites of infection commonly include lymph nodes, pleura, and osteoarticular areas, although any organ can be involved. The diagnosis of extrapulmonary tuberculosis can be elusive, necessitating a high index of suspicion. Physicians should obtain a thorough history focusing on risk behaviors for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and tuberculosis. Antituberculous therapy can minimize morbidity and mortality but may need to be initiated empirically. A negative smear for acid-fast bacillus, a lack of granulomas on histopathology, and failure to culture Mycobacterium tuberculosis do not exclude the diagnosis. Novel diagnostic modalities such as adenosine deaminase levels and polymerase chain reaction can be useful in certain forms of extrapulmonary tuberculosis. In general, the same regimens are used to treat pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis, and responses to antituberculous therapy are similar in patients with HIV infection and in those without. Treatment duration may need to be extended for central nervous system and skeletal tuberculosis, depending on drug resistance, and in patients who have a delayed or incomplete response. Adjunctive corticosteroids may be beneficial in patients with tuberculous meningitis, tuberculous pericarditis, or miliary tuberculosis with refractory hypoxemia.
ABSTRACT: Acute abdominal pain is a common presenting complaint in older patients. Presentation may differ from that of the younger patient and is often complicated by coexistent disease, delays in presentation, and physical and social barriers. The physical examination can be misleadingly benign, even with catastrophic conditions such as abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture and mesenteric ischemia. Changes that occur in the biliary system because of aging make older patients vulnerable to acute cholecystitis, the most common indication for surgery in this population. In older patients with appendicitis, the initial diagnosis is correct only one half of the time, and there are increased rates of perforation and mortality when compared with younger patients. Medication use, gallstones, and alcohol use increase the risk of pancreatitis, and advanced age is an indicator of poor prognosis for this disease. Diverticulitis is a common cause of abdominal pain in the older patient; in appropriately selected patients, it may be treated on an outpatient basis with oral antibiotics. Small and large bowel obstructions, usually caused by adhesive disease or malignancy, are more common in the aged and often require surgery. Morbidity and mortality among older patients presenting with acute abdominal pain are high, and these patients often require hospitalization with prompt surgical consultation.
ABSTRACT: Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis are common, closely related vasculitic conditions that almost exclusively occur in patients older than 50 years. They may be manifestations of the same underlying disease and often coexist. Patients with polymyalgia rheumatica usually present with acute onset of stiffness and pain in the shoulder and pelvic musculature, which may be accompanied by fever, malaise, and weight loss. If untreated, polymyalgia rheumatica may result in significant disability. Giant cell arteritis may manifest as visual loss or diplopia, abnormalities of the temporal artery such as tenderness or decreased pulsation, jaw claudication, and new-onset headaches. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate and temporal artery biopsy help make the diagnosis. Giant cell arteritis requires urgent diagnosis because without treatment it may lead to irreversible blindness. Patients with either condition also may have nonspecific symptoms. Corticosteroids are the mainstay of therapy for both conditions, with higher doses required for treatment of giant cell arteritis. Duration of corticosteroid therapy can be five years or longer before complete clinical remission is achieved. Monitoring for corticosteroid-associated side effects such as osteoporosis and diabetes, as well as for relapses and flare-ups, is key to chronic management. The prognosis for either condition, if treated, is good.
ABSTRACT: Chronic foot pain is a common and often disabling clinical complaint that can interfere with a patient's routine activities. Despite careful and detailed clinical history and physical examination, providing an accurate diagnosis is often difficult because chronic foot pain has a broad spectrum of potential causes. Therefore, imaging studies play a key role in diagnosis and management. Initial assessment is typically done by plain radiography; however, magnetic resonance imaging has superior soft-tissue contrast resolution and multiplanar capability, which makes it important in the early diagnosis of ambiguous or clinically equivocal cases when initial radiographic findings are inconclusive. Computed tomography displays bony detail in stress fractures, as well as in arthritides and tarsal coalition. Bone scanning and ultrasonography also are useful tools for diagnosing specific conditions that produce chronic foot pain.
ABSTRACT: Cysticercosis (i.e., tapeworm infection) is an increasingly common medical problem in the United States, especially in the Southwest and other areas of heavy emigration from endemic areas or in populations with significant travel to these areas. The larval stage of the pork tape-worm, Taenia solium, causes the clinical syndrome of cysticercosis, with humans as dead-end hosts after ingestion of T solium eggs. Its clinical effects vary depending on site of larval lodging, larval burden, and host reaction. These effects include seizures, headaches, focal neurologic symptoms, visual disturbances, and localized skeletal muscle nodules and pain. Cysticercosis should be considered in any patient from an endemic area presenting with these symptoms. Treatment varies with the clinical presentation. Parenchymal neurocysticercosis generally is treated with albendazole in conjunction with steroids to limit edema and with antiepileptic medications for seizure control. Ocular and extraocular muscle cysticercosis generally requires surgical intervention. Skeletal muscle cysts are surgically removed only if painful. Because cysts can lodge in multiple locations, all patients with cysticercosis should have an ophthalmologic examination to rule out ocular involvement, and all patients with extraneurologic cysticercosis should have computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to rule out neurocysticercosis.
ABSTRACT: Breast cancer is one of the most significant health concerns in the United States. Recent reviews have questioned the value of traditional breast cancer screening methods. Breast self-examination has been shown not to improve cancer-specific or all-cause mortality in large studies, but it is commonly advocated as a noninvasive screen. Patients who choose to perform self-examination should be trained in appropriate technique and follow-up. The contribution of the clinical breast examination to early detection is difficult to determine, but studies show that sensitivity is highly dependent on time taken to do the examination. Up to 10 percent of cancers are mammographically silent but evident on clinical breast examination. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammography for women older than 40 years who are in good health, but physicians should consider that sensitivity is lower for younger women. Digital mammography is somewhat more sensitive in younger women and women with dense breasts, but outcome studies are lacking. Although magnetic resonance imaging shows promise as a screening tool in some high-risk women, it is not currently recommended for general screening because of high false-positive rates and cost. The American Cancer Society recommends annual magnetic resonance imaging as an adjunct to screening mammography in high-risk women 30 years and older.
Evaluation of Nausea and Vomiting - Article
ABSTRACT: A comprehensive history and physical examination can often reveal the cause of nausea and vomiting, making further evaluation unnecessary. Acute symptoms generally are the result of infectious, inflammatory, or iatrogenic causes. Most infections are self-limiting and require minimal intervention; iatrogenic causes can be resolved by removing the offending agent. Chronic symptoms are usually a pathologic response to any of a variety of conditions. Gastrointestinal etiologies include obstruction, functional disorders, and organic diseases. Central nervous system etiologies are primarily related to conditions that increase intracranial pressure, and typically cause other neurologic signs. Pregnancy is the most common endocrinologic cause of nausea and must be considered in any woman of childbearing age. Numerous metabolic abnormalities and psychiatric diagnoses also may cause nausea and vomiting. Evaluation should first focus on detecting any emergencies or complications that require hospitalization. Attention should then turn to identifying the underlying cause and providing specific therapies. When the cause cannot be determined, empiric therapy with an antiemetic is appropriate. Initial diagnostic testing should generally be limited to basic laboratory tests and plain radiography. Further testing, such as upper endoscopy or computed tomography of the abdomen, should be determined by clinical suspicion based on a complete history and physical examination.
ABSTRACT: Acute abdominal pain can represent a spectrum of conditions from benign and self-limited disease to surgical emergencies. Evaluating abdominal pain requires an approach that relies on the likelihood of disease, patient history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. The location of pain is a useful starting point and will guide further evaluation. For example, right lower quadrant pain strongly suggests appendicitis. Certain elements of the history and physical examination are helpful (e.g., constipation and abdominal distension strongly suggest bowel obstruction), whereas others are of little value (e.g., anorexia has little predictive value for appendicitis). The American College of Radiology has recommended different imaging studies for assessing abdominal pain based on pain location. Ultrasonography is recommended to assess right upper quadrant pain, and computed tomography is recommended for right and left lower quadrant pain. It is also important to consider special populations such as women, who are at risk of genitourinary disease, which may cause abdominal pain; and the elderly, who may present with atypical symptoms of a disease.
ABSTRACT: Acute lumbar disk herniations are the most common cause of sciatica. After excluding emergent causes, such as cauda equina syndrome, epidural abscess, fracture, or malignancy, a six-week trial of conservative management is indicated. Patients should be advised to stay active. If symptoms persist after six weeks, or if there is worsening neurologic function, imaging and invasive procedures may be considered. Most patients with lumbar disk herniations improve over six weeks. Because there is no difference in outcomes between surgical and conservative treatment after two years, patient preference and the severity of the disability from the pain should be considered when choosing treatment modalities. If a disk herniation is identified that correlates with physical findings, surgical diskectomy may improve symptoms more quickly than continued conservative management. Epidural steroid injections can also provide short-term relief.
ABSTRACT: Deviations from a normal age-appropriate gait pattern can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. In most children, limping is caused by a mild, self-limiting event, such as a contusion, strain, or sprain. In some cases, however, a limp can be a sign of a serious or even life-threatening condition. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can result in significant morbidity and mortality. Examination of a limping child should begin with a thorough history, focusing on the presence of pain, any history of trauma, and any associated systemic symptoms. The presence of fever, night sweats, weight loss, and anorexia suggests the possibility of infection, inflammation, or malignancy. Physical examination should focus on identifying the type of limp and localizing the site of pathology by direct palpation and by examining the range of motion of individual joints. Localized tenderness may indicate contusions, fractures, osteomyelitis, or malignancy. A palpable mass raises the concern of malignancy. The child should be carefully examined because non-musculoskeletal conditions can cause limping. Based on the most probable diagnoses suggested by the history and physical examination, the appropriate use of laboratory tests and imaging studies can help confirm the diagnosis.