Items in AFP with MESH term: Medical History Taking

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Evaluating the Febrile Patient with a Rash - Article

ABSTRACT: The differential diagnosis for febrile patients with a rash is extensive. Diseases that present with fever and rash are usually classified according to the morphology of the primary lesion. Rashes can be categorized as maculopapular (centrally and peripherally distributed), petechial, diffusely erythematous with desquamation, vesiculobullous-pustular and nodular. Potential causes include viruses, bacteria, spirochetes, rickettsiae, medications and rheumatologic diseases. A thorough history and a careful physical examination are essential to making a correct diagnosis. Although laboratory studies can be useful in confirming the diagnosis, test results often are not available immediately. Because the severity of these illnesses can vary from minor (roseola) to life-threatening (meningococcemia), the family physician must make prompt management decisions regarding empiric therapy. Hospitalization, isolation and antimicrobial therapy often must be considered when a patient presents with fever and a rash.


The Preparticipation Athletic Evaluation - Article

ABSTRACT: A comprehensive medical history that includes questions about a personal and family history of cardiovascular disease is the most important initial component of the preparticipation athletic evaluation. Additional questions should focus on any history of neurologic or musculoskeletal problems. A limited physical examination should emphasize cardiac auscultation with provocative maneuvers to screen for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This condition is the most common cause of sudden death in young male athletes. Other components of the physical examination include an evaluation of the spine and extremities. Screening tests such as electrocardiography, treadmill stress testing and urinalysis are not indicated in the absence of symptoms or a significant history of risk factors. Specific conditions that would exclude or limit athletic participation include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, long QT interval syndrome, concussion, significant knee injury, sickle cell disease and uncontrolled seizures. Overall, about 1 percent of athletes who are screened are completely disqualified from sports participation.


Evaluation of Acute Headaches in Adults - Article

ABSTRACT: Classifying headaches as primary (migraine, tension-type or cluster) or secondary can facilitate evaluation and management A detailed headache history helps to distinguish among the primary headache disorders. "Red flags" for secondary disorders include sudden onset of headache, onset of headache after 50 years of age, increased frequency or severity of headache, new onset of headache with an underlying medical condition, headache with concomitant systemic illness, focal neurologic signs or symptoms, papilledema and headache subsequent to head trauma. A thorough neurologic examination should be performed, with abnormal findings warranting neuroimaging to rule out intracranial pathology. The preferred imaging modality to rule out hemorrhage is noncontrast computed tomographic (CT) scanning followed by lumbar puncture if the CT scan is normal. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is more expensive than CT scanning and less widely available; however, MRI reveals more detail and is necessary for imaging the posterior fossa. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis can help to confirm or rule out hemorrhage, infection, tumor and disorders related to CSF hypertension or hypotension. Referral is appropriate for patients with headaches that are difficult to diagnose, or that worsen or fail to respond to management


Evaluating and Treating Unintentional Weight Loss in the Elderly - Article

ABSTRACT: Elderly patients with unintentional weight loss are at higher risk for infection, depression and death. The leading causes of involuntary weight loss are depression (especially in residents of long-term care facilities), cancer (lung and gastrointestinal malignancies), cardiac disorders and benign gastrointestinal diseases. Medications that may cause nausea and vomiting, dysphagia, dysgeusia and anorexia have been implicated. Polypharmacy can cause unintended weight loss, as can psychotropic medication reduction (i.e., by unmasking problems such as anxiety). A specific cause is not identified in approximately one quarter of elderly patients with unintentional weight loss. A reasonable work-up includes tests dictated by the history and physical examination, a fecal occult blood test, a complete blood count, a chemistry panel, an ultrasensitive thyroid-stimulating hormone test and a urinalysis. Upper gastrointestinal studies have a reasonably high yield in selected patients. Management is directed at treating underlying causes and providing nutritional support. Consideration should be given to the patient's environment and interest in and ability to eat food, the amelioration of symptoms and the provision of adequate nutrition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has labeled no appetite stimulants for the treatment of weight loss in the elderly.


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.


Insulin Resistance Syndrome - Article

ABSTRACT: Insulin resistance can be linked to diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease and other abnormalities. These abnormalities constitute the insulin resistance syndrome. Because resistance usually develops long before these diseases appear, identifying and treating insulin-resistant patients has potentially great preventive value. Insulin resistance should be suspected in patients with a history of diabetes in first-degree relatives; patients with a personal history of gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome or impaired glucose tolerance; and obese patients, particularly those with abdominal obesity. Present treatment consists of sensible lifestyle changes, including weight loss to attain healthy body weight, 30 minutes of accumulated moderate-intensity physical activity per day and increased dietary fiber intake. Pharmacotherapy is not currently recommended for patients with isolated insulin resistance.


Evaluating the Child for Sexual Abuse - Article

ABSTRACT: Child victims of sexual abuse may present with physical findings that can include anogenital problems, enuresis or encopresis. Behavioral changes may involve sexual acting out, aggression, depression, eating disturbances and regression. Because the examination findings of most child victims of sexual abuse are within normal limits or are nonspecific, the child's statements are extremely important. The child's history as obtained by the physician may be admitted as evidence in court trials; therefore, complete documentation of questions and answers is critical. A careful history should be obtained and a thorough physical examination should be performed with documentation of all findings. When examining the child's genitalia, it is important that the physician be familiar with normal variants, non-specific changes and diagnostic signs of sexual abuse. Judicious use of laboratory tests, along with appropriate therapy, should be individually tailored. Forensic evidence collection is indicated in certain cases. Referral for psychologic services is important because victims of abuse are more likely to have depression, anxiety disorders, behavioral problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Diagnosis of Appendicitis: Part I. History and Physical Examination - Point-of-Care Guides


The Limping Child: A Systematic Approach to Diagnosis - Article

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.


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