Items in AFP with MESH term: Medical History Taking
ABSTRACT: Chronic cough is a common problem in patients who visit family physicians. The three most common causes of chronic cough in those who are referred to pulmonary specialists are postnasal drip, asthma and gastroesophageal reflux. The initial treatment of patients with cough is often empiric and may involve a trial of decongestants, bronchodilators or histamine H2 antagonists, as monotherapy or in combination. If a therapeutic trial is not successful, sequential diagnostic testing including chest radiograph, purified protein derivative test for tuberculosis, computed tomography of the sinuses, methacholine challenge test or barium swallow may be indicated. By using a standard protocol for diagnosis and treatment, 90 percent of patients with chronic cough can be managed successfully in the family physician's office. However, in some cases it may take three to five months to determine a diagnosis and effective treatment. For the minority of patients in whom this diagnostic approach is unsuccessful, consultation with a pulmonary specialist is appropriate.
Elder Mistreatment - Article
ABSTRACT: Elder mistreatment is a widespread problem in our society that is often under-recognized by physicians. As a result of growing public outcry over the past 20 years, all states now have abuse laws that are specific to older adults; most states have mandated reporting by all health care professionals. The term "mistreatment" includes physical abuse and neglect, psychologic abuse, financial exploitation and violation of rights. Poor health, physical or cognitive impairment, alcohol abuse and a history of domestic violence are some of the risk factors for elder mistreatment. Diagnosis of elder mistreatment depends on acquiring a detailed history from the patient and the caregiver. It also involves performing a comprehensive physical examination. Only through awareness, a healthy suspicion and the performing of certain procedures are physicians able to detect elder mistreatment. Once it is suspected, elder mistreatment should be reported to adult protective services.
ABSTRACT: Family physicians frequently encounter patients with knee pain. Accurate diagnosis requires a knowledge of knee anatomy, common pain patterns in knee injuries, and features of frequently encountered causes of knee pain, as well as specific physical examination skills. The history should include characteristics of the patient's pain, mechanical symptoms (locking, popping, giving way), joint effusion (timing, amount, recurrence), and mechanism of injury. The physical examination should include careful inspection of the knee, palpation for point tenderness, assessment of joint effusion, range-of-motion testing, evaluation of ligaments for injury or laxity, and assessment of the menisci. Radiographs should be obtained in patients with isolated patellar tenderness or tenderness at the head of the fibula, inability to bear weight or flex the knee to 90 degrees, or age greater than 55 years.
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: The diagnosis and initial management of urolithiasis have undergone considerable evolution in recent years. The application of noncontrast helical computed tomography (CT) in patients with suspected renal colic is one major advance. The superior sensitivity and specificity of helical CT allow urolithiasis to be diagnosed or excluded definitively and expeditiously without the potential harmful effects of contrast media. Initial management is based on three key concepts: (1) the recognition of urgent and emergency requirements for urologic consultation, (2) the provision of effective pain control using a combination of narcotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in appropriate patients and (3) an understanding of the impact of stone location and size on natural history and definitive urologic management. These concepts are discussed with reference to contemporary literature, with the goal of providing tools that family physicians can use in the emergency department or clinic.
ABSTRACT: Acute low back pain is commonly encountered in primary care practice but the specific cause often cannot be identified. This ailment has a benign course in 90 percent of patients. Recurrences and functional limitations can be minimized with appropriate conservative management, including medications, physical therapy modalities, exercise and patient education. Radiographs and laboratory tests are generally unnecessary, except in the few patients in whom a serious cause is suspected based on a comprehensive history and physical examination. Serious causes that need to be considered include infection, malignancy, rheumatologic diseases and neurologic disorders. Patients with suspected cauda equina lesions should undergo immediate surgical investigation. Surgical evaluation is also indicated in patients with worsening neurologic deficits or intractable pain that is resistant to conservative treatment. The current recommendation is two or three days of bed rest for patients with acute radiculopathy. The treatment plan should be reassessed in patients who do not return to normal activity within four to six weeks.
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: The relationship between spirituality and medicine has been the focus of considerable interest in recent years. Studies suggest that many patients believe spirituality plays an important role in their lives, that there is a positive correlation between a patient's spirituality or religious commitment and health outcomes, and that patients would like physicians to consider these factors in their medical care. A spiritual assessment as part of a medical encounter is a practical first step in incorporating consideration of a patient's spirituality into medical practice. The HOPE questions provide a formal tool that may be used in this process. The HOPE concepts for discussion are as follows: H--sources of hope, strength, comfort, meaning, peace, love and connection; O--the role of organized religion for the patient; P--personal spirituality and practices; E--effects on medical care and end-of-life decisions.
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.
Preoperative Evaluation - Article
ABSTRACT: A history and physical examination, focusing on risk factors for cardiac, pulmonary and infectious complications, and a determination of a patient's functional capacity, are essential to any preoperative evaluation. In addition, the type of surgery influences the overall perioperative risk and the need for further cardiac evaluation. Routine laboratory studies are rarely helpful except to monitor known disease states. Patients with good functional capacity do not require preoperative cardiac stress testing in most surgical cases. Unstable angina, myocardial infarction within six weeks and aortic or peripheral vascular surgery place a patient into a high-risk category for perioperative cardiac complications. Patients with respiratory disease may benefit from perioperative use of bronchodilators or steroids. Patients at increased risk of pulmonary complications should receive instruction in deep-breathing exercises or incentive spirometry. Assessment of nutritional status should be performed. An albumin level of less than 3.2 mg per dL (32 g per L) suggests an increased risk of complications. Patients deemed at risk because of compromised nutritional status may benefit from pre- and postoperative nutritional supplementation.