Items in AFP with MESH term: Medical History Taking
ABSTRACT: Referring a patient to a neuropsychologist for evaluation provides a level of rigorous assessment of brain function that often cannot be obtained in other ways. The neuropsychologist integrates information from the patient’s medical history, laboratory tests, and imaging studies; an in-depth interview; collateral information from the family and other sources; and standardized assessment instruments to draw conclusions about diagnosis, prognosis, and response to therapy. Family physicians can use this information in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with depression, dementia, concussion, and similar conditions, as well as to address concerns about decision-making capacity. Certain assessment instruments, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination and Patient Health Questionnaire–9, are readily available and easily performed in a primary care office. Distinguishing among depression, dementia, and other conditions can be challenging, and consultation with a neuropsychologist at this level can be diagnostic and therapeutic. The neuropsychologist typically helps the patient, family, and primary care team by establishing decision-making capacity; determining driving safety; identifying traumatic brain injury deficits; distinguishing dementia from depression and other conditions; and detecting malingering. Neuropsychologists use a structured set of therapeutic activities to improve a patient’s ability to think, use judgment, and make decisions (cognitive rehabilitation). Repeat neuropsychological evaluation can be invaluable in monitoring progression and treatment effects.
Evaluation of Acute Pelvic Pain in Women - Article
ABSTRACT: Diagnosis of pelvic pain in women can be challenging because many symptoms and signs are insensitive and nonspecific. As the first priority, urgent life-threatening conditions (e.g., ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis, ruptured ovarian cyst) and fertility-threatening conditions (e.g., pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian torsion) must be considered. A careful history focusing on pain characteristics, review of systems, and gynecologic, sexual, and social history, in addition to physical examination helps narrow the differential diagnosis. The most common urgent causes of pelvic pain are pelvic inflammatory disease, ruptured ovarian cyst, and appendicitis; however, many other diagnoses in the differential may mimic these conditions, and imaging is often needed. Transvaginal ultrasonography should be the initial imaging test because of its sensitivities across most etiologies and its lack of radiation exposure. A high index of suspicion should be maintained for pelvic inflammatory disease when other etiologies are ruled out, because the presentation is variable and the prevalence is high. Multiple studies have shown that 20 to 50 percent of women presenting with pelvic pain have pelvic inflammatory disease. Adolescents and pregnant and postpartum women require unique considerations.
Dizziness: A Diagnostic Approach - Article
ABSTRACT: Dizziness accounts for an estimated 5 percent of primary care clinic visits. The patient history can generally classify dizziness into one of four categories: vertigo, disequilibrium, presyncope, or lightheadedness. The main causes of vertigo are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Meniere disease, vestibular neuritis, and labyrinthitis. Many medications can cause presyncope, and regimens should be assessed in patients with this type of dizziness. Parkinson disease and diabetic neuropathy should be considered with the diagnosis of disequilibrium. Psychiatric disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and hyperventilation syndrome, can cause vague lightheadedness. The differential diagnosis of dizziness can be narrowed with easy-to-perform physical examination tests, including evaluation for nystagmus, the Dix-Hallpike maneuver, and orthostatic blood pressure testing. Laboratory testing and radiography play little role in diagnosis. A final diagnosis is not obtained in about 20 percent of cases. Treatment of vertigo includes the Epley maneuver (canalith repositioning) and vestibular rehabilitation for benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, intratympanic dexamethasone or gentamicin for Meniere disease, and steroids for vestibular neuritis. Orthostatic hypotension that causes presyncope can be treated with alpha agonists, mineralocorticoids, or lifestyle changes. Disequilibrium and lightheadedness can be alleviated by treating the underlying cause.
Anemia in Older Persons - Article
ABSTRACT: Anemia in older persons is commonly overlooked despite mounting evidence that low hemoglobin levels are a significant marker of physiologic decline. Using the World Health Organization definition of anemia (hemoglobin level less than 13 g per dL [130 g per L] in men and less than 12 g per dL [120 g per L] in women), more than 10 percent of persons older than 65 years are anemic. The prevalence increases with age, approaching 50 percent in chronically ill patients living in nursing homes. There is increasing evidence that even mild anemia is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Anemia warrants evaluation in all older persons, except those at the end of life or who decline interventions. About one third of persons have anemia secondary to a nutritional deficiency, one third have anemia caused by chronic inflammation or chronic kidney disease, and one third have unexplained anemia. Nutritional anemia is effectively treated with vitamin or iron replacement. Iron deficiency anemia often is caused by gastrointestinal bleeding and requires further investigation in most patients. Anemia of chronic inflammation or chronic kidney disease may respond to treatment of the underlying disease and selective use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents. The treatment of unexplained anemia is difficult, and there is little evidence that treatment decreases morbidity and mortality, or improves quality of life. Occasionally, anemia may be caused by less common but potentially treatable conditions, such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia, malignancy, or myelodysplastic syndrome.
The Geriatric Assessment - Article
ABSTRACT: The geriatric assessment is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary assessment designed to evaluate an older person’s functional ability, physical health, cognition and mental health, and socioenvironmental circumstances. It is usually initiated when the physician identifies a potential problem. Specific elements of physical health that are evaluated include nutrition, vision, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, and balance. The geriatric assessment aids in the diagnosis of medical conditions; development of treatment and follow-up plans; coordination of management of care; and evaluation of long-term care needs and optimal placement. The geriatric assessment differs from a standard medical evaluation by including nonmedical domains; by emphasizing functional capacity and quality of life; and, often, by incorporating a multidisciplinary team. It usually yields a more complete and relevant list of medical problems, functional problems, and psychosocial issues. Well-validated tools and survey instruments for evaluating activities of daily living, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, balance, and cognition are an important part of the geriatric assessment. Because of the demands of a busy clinical practice, most geriatric assessments tend to be less comprehensive and more problem-directed. When multiple concerns are presented, the use of a “rolling” assessment over several visits should be considered.
Adolescent with a Diffuse, Progressive Rash - Photo Quiz
ABSTRACT: Constipation is traditionally defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week. Risk factors for constipation include female sex, older age, inactivity, low caloric intake, low-fiber diet, low income, low educational level, and taking a large number of medications. Chronic constipation is classified as functional (primary) or secondary. Functional constipation can be divided into normal transit, slow transit, or outlet constipation. Possible causes of secondary chronic constipation include medication use, as well as medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or irritable bowel syndrome. Frail older patients may present with nonspecific symptoms of constipation, such as delirium, anorexia, and functional decline. The evaluation of constipation includes a history and physical examination to rule out alarm signs and symptoms. These include evidence of bleeding, unintended weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, acute onset constipation in older patients, and rectal prolapse. Patients with one or more alarm signs or symptoms require prompt evaluation. Referral to a subspecialist for additional evaluation and diagnostic testing may be warranted.
Why I Let My Patients See My Notes - Opinion
ABSTRACT: Plantar fasciitis, a self-limiting condition, is a common cause of heel pain in adults. It affects more than 1 million persons per year, and two-thirds of patients with plantar fasciitis will seek care from their family physician. Plantar fasciitis affects sedentary and athletic populations. Obesity, excessive foot pronation, excessive running, and prolonged standing are risk factors for developing plantar fasciitis. Diagnosis is primarily based on history and physical examination. Patients may present with heel pain with their first steps in the morning or after prolonged sitting, and sharp pain with palpation of the medial plantar calcaneal region. Discomfort in the proximal plantar fascia can be elicited by passive ankle/first toe dorsiflexion. Diagnostic imaging is rarely needed for the initial diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. Use of ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging is reserved for recalcitrant cases or to rule out other heel pathology; findings of increased plantar fascia thickness and abnormal tissue signal the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. Conservative treatments help with the disabling pain. Initially, patient-directed treatments consisting of rest, activity modification, ice massage, oral analgesics, and stretching techniques can be tried for several weeks. If heel pain persists, then physician-prescribed treatments such as physical therapy modalities, foot orthotics, night splinting, and corticosteroid injections should be considered. Ninety percent of patients will improve with these conservative techniques. Patients with chronic recalcitrant plantar fasciitis lasting six months or longer can consider extracorporeal shock wave therapy or plantar fasciotomy.
The Importance of Obtaining a Sexual History - Editorials