Items in AFP with MESH term: Medical History Taking
ABSTRACT: Constipation in children usually is functional and the result of stool retention. However, family physicians must be alert for red flags that may indicate the presence of an uncommon but serious organic cause of constipation, such as Hirschsprung's disease (congenital aganglionic megacolon), pseudo-obstruction, spinal cord abnormality, hypothyroidism, diabetes insipidus, cystic fibrosis, gluten enteropathy, or congenital anorectal malformation. Treatment of functional constipation involves disimpaction using oral or rectal medication. Polyethylene glycol is effective and well tolerated, but a number of alternatives are available. After disimpaction, a maintenance program may be required for months to years because relapse of functional constipation is common. Maintenance medications include mineral oil, lactulose, milk of magnesia, polyethylene glycol powder, and sorbitol. Education of the family and, when possible, the child is instrumental in improving functional constipation. Behavioral education improves response to treatment; biofeedback training does not. Because cow's milk may promote constipation in some children, a trial of withholding milk may be considered. Adding fiber to the diet may improve constipation. Despite treatment, only 50 to 70 percent of children with functional constipation demonstrate long-term improvement.
Cross-Cultural Medicine - Article
ABSTRACT: Cultural competency is an essential skill for family physicians because of increasing ethnic diversity among patient populations. Culture, the shared beliefs and attitudes of a group, shapes ideas of what constitutes illness and acceptable treatment. A cross-cultural interview should elicit the patient's perception of the illness and any alternative therapies he or she is undergoing as well as facilitate a mutually acceptable treatment plan. Patients should understand instructions from their physicians and be able to repeat them in their own words. To protect the patient's confidentiality, it is best to avoid using the patient's family and friends as interpreters. Potential cultural conflicts between a physician and patient include differing attitudes towards time, personal space, eye contact, body language, and even what is important in life. Latino, Asian, and black healing traditions are rich and culturally meaningful but can affect management of chronic medical and psychiatric conditions. Efforts directed toward instituting more culturally relevant health care enrich the physician-patient relationship and improve patient rapport, adherence, and outcomes.
ABSTRACT: Musculoskeletal pain can be difficult for children to characterize. Primary care physicians must determine whether the pain may be caused by a systemic disease. Change in activity, constitutional symptoms such as fevers and fatigue, or abnormal examination findings without obvious etiology should raise suspicion for rheumatic disease. A complete physical examination should be performed to look for extra-articular signs of rheumatic disease, focusing on but not limited to the affected areas. A logical and consistent approach to diagnosis is recommended, with judicious use of laboratory and radiologic testing. Complete blood count and erythrocyte sedimentation rate measurement are useful if rheumatic disease is suspected. Other rheumatologic tests (e.g., antinuclear antibody) have a low pretest probability in the primary care setting and must be interpreted cautiously. Plain radiography can exclude fractures or malignancy; computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are more sensitive in detecting joint inflammation. Family physicians should refer children to a subspecialist when the diagnosis is in question or subspecialty treatment is required. Part II of this series discusses rheumatic diseases that present primarily with musculoskeletal pain in children, including juvenile arthritis, the spondyloarthropathies, acute rheumatic fever, Henoch-SchÃ¶nlein purpura, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
ABSTRACT: To complement the 2005 Annual Clinical Focus on medical genomics, AFP will be publishing a series of short reviews on genetic syndromes. This series was designed to increase awareness of these diseases so that family physicians can recognize and diagnose children with these disorders and understand the kind of care they might require in the future. The first review in this series discusses fragile X syndrome.
Second Trimester Pregnancy Loss - Article
ABSTRACT: Second trimester pregnancy loss is uncommon, but it should be regarded as an important event in a woman's obstetric history. Fetal abnormalities, including chromosomal problems, and maternal anatomic factors, immunologic factors, infection, and thrombophilia should be considered; however, a cause-and-effect relationship may be difficult to establish. A thorough history and physical examination should include inquiries about previous pregnancy loss. Laboratory tests may identify treatable etiologies. Although there is limited evidence that specific interventions improve outcomes, management of contributing maternal factors (e.g., smoking, substance abuse) is essential. Preventive measures, including vaccination and folic acid supplementation, are recommended regardless of risk. Management of associated chromosomal factors requires consultation with a genetic counselor or obstetrician. The family physician can play an important role in helping the patient and her family cope with the emotional aspects of pregnancy loss.
ABSTRACT: The collection of a family history ranges from simply asking patients if family members have the same presenting illness to diagramming complex medical and psychosocial relationships as part of a family genogram. The three-generation pedigree provides a pictorial representation of diseases within a family and is the most efficient way to assess hereditary influences on disease. Two recent events have made family history assessment more important than ever: the completion of the Human Genome Project with resultant identification of the inherited causes of many diseases, and the establishment of national clinical practice guidelines based on systematic reviews of preventive interventions. The family history is useful in stratifying a patient's risk for rare single-gene disorders and more common diseases with multiple genetic and environmental contributions. Major organizations have endorsed using standardized symbols in pedigrees to identify inherited contributions to disease.
Initiating Hormonal Contraception - Article
ABSTRACT: Most women can safely begin taking hormonal birth control products immediately after an office visit, at any point in the menstrual cycle. Because hormonal contraceptives do not accelerate cervical neoplasia or interfere with cervical cytology, women who have not had a recent Papanicolaou smear can begin using hormonal contraceptives before the test is performed. After childbirth, most women can begin using progestin-only contraceptives immediately. Estrogen-containing methods can safely be initiated six weeks to six months postpartum for women who are breastfeeding their infants and three weeks postpartum for women who are not breastfeeding. Women can begin any appropriate contraceptive method immediately following an early abortion. Delaying contraception may decrease adherence. Physicians can help patients improve their use of birth control by providing anticipatory guidance about the most common side effects, giving comprehensive information about available choices, and honoring women's preferences. An evidence-based, flexible, patient-centered approach to initiating contraception may help to lower the high rate of unintended pregnancy in the United States.
Amenorrhea: Evaluation and Treatment - Article
ABSTRACT: A thorough history and physical examination as well as laboratory testing can help narrow the differential diagnosis of amenorrhea. In patients with primary amenorrhea, the presence or absence of sexual development should direct the evaluation. Constitutional delay of growth and puberty commonly causes primary amenorrhea in patients with no sexual development. If the patient has normal pubertal development and a uterus, the most common etiology is congenital outflow tract obstruction with a transverse vaginal septum or imperforate hymen. If the patient has abnormal uterine development, mÃ¼llerian agenesis is the likely cause and a karyotype analysis should confirm that the patient is 46,XX. If a patient has secondary amenorrhea, pregnancy should be ruled out. The treatment of primary and secondary amenorrhea is based on the causative factor. Treatment goals include prevention of complications such as osteoporosis, endometrial hyperplasia, and heart disease; preservation of fertility; and, in primary amenorrhea, progression of normal pubertal development.
ABSTRACT: Shoulder pain is defined as chronic when it has been present for longer than six months. Common conditions that can result in chronic shoulder pain include rotator cuff disorders, adhesive capsulitis, shoulder instability, and shoulder arthritis. Rotator cuff disorders include tendinopathy, partial tears, and complete tears. A clinical decision rule that is helpful in the diagnosis of rotator cuff tears includes pain with overhead activity, weakness on empty can and external rotation tests, and a positive impingement sign. Adhesive capsulitis can be associated with diabetes and thyroid disorders. Clinical presentation includes diffuse shoulder pain with restricted passive range of motion on examination. Acromioclavicular osteoarthritis presents with superior shoulder pain, acromioclavicular joint tenderness, and a painful cross-body adduction test. In patients who are older than 50 years, glenohumeral osteoarthritis usually presents as gradual pain and loss of motion. In patients younger than 40 years, glenohumeral instability generally presents with a history of dislocation or subluxation events. Positive apprehension and relocation are consistent with the diagnosis. Imaging studies, indicated when diagnosis remains unclear or management would be altered, include plain radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasonography, and computed tomography scans. Plain radiographs may help diagnose massive rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, and shoulder arthritis. Magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography are preferred for rotator cuff disorders. For shoulder instability, magnetic resonance imaging arthrogram is preferred over magnetic resonance imaging.
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.