Items in AFP with MESH term: Medical History Taking
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: Testicular cancer is the most common malignancy in men 20 to 35 years of age and has an annual incidence of four per 100,000. If diagnosed early, the cure rate is nearly 99 percent. Risk factors for testicular cancer include cryptorchidism (i.e., undescended testicles), family history, infertility, tobacco use, and white race. Routine self-examination and physician screening have not been shown to improve outcomes, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and American Cancer Society do not recommend them in asymptomatic men. Patients presenting with a painless testicular mass, scrotal heaviness, a dull ache, or acute pain should receive a thorough examination. Testicular masses should be examined with scrotal ultrasonography. If ultrasonography shows an intratesticular mass, the patient should be referred to a urologist for definitive diagnosis, orchiectomy, and further evaluation with abdominal computed tomography and chest radiography. The family physician's role after diagnosis of testicular cancer includes encouraging the patient to bank sperm because of possible infertility and evaluating for recurrence and future complications, especially cardiovascular disease.
ABSTRACT: Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition affecting older men. Typical presenting symptoms include urinary hesitancy, weak stream, nocturia, incontinence, and recurrent urinary tract infections. Acute urinary retention, which requires urgent bladder catheterization, is relatively uncommon. Irreversible renal damage is rare. The initial evaluation should assess the frequency and severity of symptoms and the impact of symptoms on the patient's quality of life. The American Urological Association Symptom Index is a validated instrument for the objective assessment of symptom severity. The initial evaluation should also include a digital rectal examination and urinalysis. Men with hematuria should be evaluated for bladder cancer. A palpable nodule or induration of the prostate requires referral for assessment to rule out prostate cancer. For men with mild symptoms, watchful waiting with annual reassessment is appropriate. Over the past decade, numerous medical and surgical interventions have been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Alpha blockers improve symptoms relatively quickly. Although 5-alpha reductase inhibitors have a slower onset of action, they may decrease prostate size and alter the disease course. Limited evidence shows that the herbal agents saw palmetto extract, rye grass pollen extract, and pygeum relieve symptoms. Transurethral resection of the prostate often provides permanent relief. Newer laser-based surgical techniques have comparable effectiveness to transurethral resection up to two years after surgery with lower perioperative morbidity. Various outpatient surgical techniques are associated with reduced morbidity, but symptom relief may be less durable.
Primary Brain Tumors in Adults - Article
ABSTRACT: Primary malignant brain tumors account for 2 percent of all cancers in U.S. adults. The most common malignant brain tumor is glioblastoma multiforme, and patients with this type of tumor have a poor prognosis. Previous exposure to high-dose ionizing radiation is the only proven environmental risk factor for a brain tumor. Primary brain tumors are classified based on their cellular origin and histologic appearance. Typical symptoms include persistent headache, seizures, nausea, vomiting, neurocognitive symptoms, and personality changes. A tumor can be identified using brain imaging, and the diagnosis is confirmed with histopathology. Any patient with chronic, persistent headache in association with protracted nausea, vomiting, seizures, change in headache pattern, neurologic symptoms, or positional worsening should be evaluated for a brain tumor. Magnetic resonance imaging is the preferred initial imaging study. A comprehensive neurosurgical evaluation is necessary to obtain tissue for diagnosis and for possible resection of the tumor. Primary brain tumors rarely metastasize outside the central nervous system, and there is no standard staging method. Surgical resection of the tumor is the mainstay of therapy. Postoperative radiation and chemotherapy have improved survival in patients with high-grade brain tumors. Recent developments in targeted chemotherapy provide novel treatment options for patients with tumor recurrence. Primary care physicians play an important role in the perioperative and supportive treatment of patients with primary brain tumors, including palliative care and symptom control.
ABSTRACT: Primary care physicians are often asked about easy bruising, excessive bleeding, or risk of bleeding before surgery. A thorough history, including a family history, will guide the appropriate work-up, and a physical examination may provide clues to diagnosis. A standardized bleeding score system can help physicians to organize the patient's bleeding history and to avoid overlooking the most common inherited bleeding disorder, von Willebrand's disease. In cases of suspected bleeding disorders, initial laboratory evaluations should include a complete blood count with platelet count, peripheral blood smear, prothrombin time, and partial thromboplastin time. More specialized yet relatively simple tests, such as the Platelet Function Analyzer-100, mixing studies, and inhibitor assays, may also be helpful. These tests can help diagnose platelet function disorders, quantitative platelet disorders, factor deficiencies, and factor inhibitors.
Medical Care for Immigrants and Refugees - Article
ABSTRACT: Refugees and other immigrants often present with clinical problems that are as varied as their previous experiences. Clinical presentations may range from unusual infectious diseases to problems with transition. This article describes medical conditions associated with immigrants, as well as specific screening recommendations, including history, physical examination and laboratory tests, and some of the challenges encountered by family physicians caring for refugees.
ABSTRACT: The diagnosis of peripheral neuropathies can be frustrating, time consuming and costly. Careful clinical and electrodiagnostic assessment, with attention to the pattern of involvement and the types of nerve fibers most affected, narrows the differential diagnosis and helps to focus the laboratory evaluation. An algorithmic approach to the evaluation and differential diagnosis of a patient with peripheral neuropathy is presented, based on important elements of the clinical history and physical examination, the use of electromyography and nerve conduction studies, autonomic testing, cerebrospinal fluid analysis and nerve biopsy findings. The underlying cause of axonal neuropathies can frequently be treated; demyelinating neuropathies are generally managed with the assistance of a neurologist.
Diagnostic Evaluation of Dyspnea - Article
ABSTRACT: Dyspnea is a common symptom and, in most cases, can be effectively managed in the office by the family physician. The differential diagnosis is composed of four general categories: cardiac, pulmonary, mixed cardiac or pulmonary, and noncardiac or nonpulmonary. Most cases of dyspnea are due to cardiac or pulmonary disease, which is readily identified with a careful history and physical examination. Chest radiographs, electrocardiograph and screening spirometry are easily performed diagnostic tests that can provide valuable information. In selected cases where the test results are inconclusive or require clarification, complete pulmonary function testing, arterial blood gas measurement, echocardiography and standard exercise treadmill testing or complete cardiopulmonary exercise testing may be useful. A consultation with a pulmonologist or cardiologist may be helpful to guide the selection and interpretation of second-line testing.
ABSTRACT: The exercise stress test is a useful screening tool for the detection of significant coronary artery disease. Documentation of the patient's symptoms, medications, past and current significant illnesses, and usual level of physical activity helps the physician determine if an exercise stress test is appropriate. The physical examination must include consideration of the patient's ability to walk and exercise, along with any signs of acute or serious disease that may affect the test results or the patient's ability to perform the test. The test report contains comments about the maximal heart rate and level of exercise achieved, and symptoms, arrhythmias, electrocardiographic changes and vital signs during exercise. This report allows the clinician to determine if the test was "maximal" or "submaximal." The quality of the test and its performance add to the validity of the results. The conclusion section of the test report indicates whether the test results were "positive," "negative," "equivocal" or "uninterpretable." Further testing may be indicated to obtain optional information about coronary artery disease and ischemic risk if the test results were equivocal or uninterpretable.
ABSTRACT: The psychiatric review of symptoms is a useful screening tool for identifying patients who have psychiatric disorders. The approach begins with a mnemonic encompassing the major psychiatric disorders: depression, personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, anxiety disorders, somatization disorder, eating disorders, cognitive disorders and psychotic disorders. For each category, an initial screening question is used, with a positive response leading to more detailed diagnostic questions. Useful interviewing techniques include transitioning from one subject to another rather than abruptly changing subjects, normalization (phrasing a question to convey to the patient that such behavior is normal or understandable) and symptom assumption (phrasing a question to imply that it is assumed the patient has engaged in such behavior). The psychiatric review of symptoms is both rapid and thorough, and can be readily incorporated into the standard history and physical examination.