Items in AFP with MESH term: Medical History Taking

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Flaws in Clinical Reasoning: A Common Cause of Diagnostic Error - Curbside Consultation


Diagnosis and Management of Osteomyelitis - Article

ABSTRACT: The incidence of chronic osteomyelitis is increasing because of the prevalence of predisposing conditions such as diabetes mellitus and peripheral vascular disease. The increased availability of sensitive imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging and bone scintigraphy, has improved diagnostic accuracy and the ability to characterize the infection. Plain radiography is a useful initial investigation to identify alternative diagnoses and potential complications. Direct sampling of the wound for culture and antimicrobial sensitivity is essential to target treatment. The increased incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus osteomyelitis complicates antibiotic selection. Surgical debridement is usually necessary in chronic cases. The recurrence rate remains high despite surgical intervention and long-term antibiotic therapy. Acute hematogenous osteomyelitis in children typically can be treated with a four-week course of antibiotics. In adults, the duration of antibiotic treatment for chronic osteomyelitis is typically several weeks longer. In both situations, however, empiric antibiotic coverage for S. aureus is indicated.


Evaluation of Syncope - Article

ABSTRACT: Syncope is a transient and abrupt loss of consciousness with complete return to preexisting neurologic function. It is classified as neurally mediated (i.e., carotid sinus hypersensitivity, situational, or vasovagal), cardiac, orthostatic, or neurogenic. Older adults are more likely to have orthostatic, carotid sinus hypersensitivity, or cardiac syn- cope, whereas younger adults are more likely to have vasovagal syncope. Common nonsyncopal syndromes with similar presentations include seizures, metabolic and psychogenic disorders, and acute intoxication. Patients presenting with syncope (other than neurally mediated and orthostatic syncope) are at increased risk of death from any cause. Useful clinical rules to assess the short-term risk of death and the need for immediate hospitalization include the San Francisco Syncope Rule and the Risk Stratification of Syncope in the Emergency Department rule. Guidelines suggest an algorithmic approach to the evaluation of syncope that begins with the history and physical examination. All patients presenting with syncope require electrocardiography, orthostatic vital signs, and QT interval monitoring. Patients with cardiovascular disease, abnormal electrocardiography, or family history of sudden death, and those presenting with unexplained syncope should be hospitalized for further diagnostic evaluation. Patients with neurally mediated or orthostatic syncope usually require no additional testing. In cases of unexplained syncope, further testing such as echocardiography, grade exercise testing, electrocardiographic monitoring, and electrophysiologic studies may be required. Although a subset of patients will have unexplained syncope despite undergoing a comprehensive evaluation, those with multiple episodes compared with an isolated event are more likely to have a serious underlying disorder.


Evaluation of Chronic Diarrhea - Article

ABSTRACT: Chronic diarrhea, defined as a decrease in stool consistency for more than four weeks, is a common but challenging clinical scenario. It can be divided into three basic categories: watery, fatty (malabsorption), and inflammatory. Watery diarrhea may be subdivided into osmotic, secretory, and functional types. Watery diarrhea includes irritable bowel syndrome, which is the most common cause of functional diarrhea. Another example of watery diarrhea is microscopic colitis, which is a secretory diarrhea affecting older persons. Laxative-induced diarrhea is often osmotic. Malabsorptive diarrhea is characterized by excess gas, steatorrhea, or weight loss; giardiasis is a classic infectious example. Celiac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is also malabsorptive, and typically results in weight loss and iron deficiency anemia. Inflammatory diarrhea, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease, is characterized by blood and pus in the stool and an elevated fecal calprotectin level. Invasive bacteria and parasites also produce inflammation. Infections caused by Clostridium difficile subsequent to antibiotic use have become increasingly common and virulent. Not all chronic diarrhea is strictly watery, malabsorptive, or inflammatory, because some categories overlap. Still, the most practical diagnostic approach is to attempt to categorize the diarrhea by type before testing and treating. This narrows the list of diagnostic possibilities and reduces unnecessary testing. Empiric therapy is justified when a specific diagnosis is strongly suspected and follow-up is available.


Evaluation of the Patient with Chronic Cough - Article

ABSTRACT: Initial evaluation of the patient with chronic cough (i.e., of more than eight weeks’ duration) should include a focused history and physical examination, and in most patients, chest radiography. Patients who are taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor should switch to a medication from another drug class. The most common causes of chronic cough in adults are upper airway cough syndrome, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, alone or in combination. If upper airway cough syndrome is suspected, a trial of a decongestant and a first-generation antihistamine is warranted. The diagnosis of asthma should be confirmed based on clinical response to empiric therapy with inhaled bronchodilators or corticosteroids. Empiric treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease should be initiated in lieu of testing for patients with chronic cough and reflux symptoms. Patients should avoid exposure to cough-evoking irritants, such as cigarette smoke. Further testing, such as high-resolution computed tomography, and referral to a pulmonologist may be indicated if the cause of chronic cough is not identified. In children, a cough lasting longer than four weeks is considered chronic. The most common causes in children are respiratory tract infections, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Evaluation of children with chronic cough should include chest radiography and spirometry.


Diagnosis and Management of Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding - Article

ABSTRACT: Upper gastrointestinal bleeding causes significant morbidity and mortality in the United States, and has been associated with increasing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use and the high prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection in patients with peptic ulcer bleeding. Rapid assessment and resuscitation should precede the diagnostic evaluation in unstable patients with severe bleeding. Risk stratification is based on clinical assessment and endoscopic findings. Early upper endoscopy (within 24 hours of presentation) is recommended in most patients because it confirms the diagnosis and allows for targeted endoscopic treatment, including epinephrine injection, thermocoagulation, application of clips, and banding. Endoscopic therapy results in reduced morbidity, hospital stays, risk of recurrent bleeding, and need for surgery. Although administration of proton pump inhibitors does not decrease mortality, risk of rebleeding, or need for surgery, it reduces stigmata of recent hemorrhage and the need for endoscopic therapy. Despite successful endoscopic therapy, rebleeding can occur in 10 to 20 percent of patients; a second attempt at endoscopic therapy is recommended in these patients. Arteriography with embolization or surgery may be needed if there is persistent and severe bleeding.


Causes and Evaluation of Chronic Dyspnea - Article

ABSTRACT: Chronic dyspnea is shortness of breath that lasts more than one month. The perception of dyspnea varies based on behavioral and physiologic responses. Dyspnea that is greater than expected with the degree of exertion is a symptom of disease. Most cases of dyspnea result from asthma, heart failure and myocardial ischemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease, pneumonia, or psychogenic disorders. The etiology of dyspnea is multifactorial in about one-third of patients. The clinical presentation alone is adequate to make a diagnosis in 66 percent of patients with dyspnea. Patients’ descriptions of the sensation of dyspnea may be helpful, but associated symptoms and risk factors, such as smoking, chemical exposures, and medication use, should also be considered. Examination findings (e.g., jugular venous distention, decreased breath sounds or wheezing, pleural rub, clubbing) may be helpful in making the diagnosis. Initial testing in patients with chronic dyspnea includes chest radiography, electrocardiography, spirometry, complete blood count, and basic metabolic panel. Measurement of brain natriuretic peptide levels may help exclude heart failure, and D-dimer testing may help rule out pulmonary emboli. Pulmonary function studies can be used to identify emphysema and interstitial lung diseases. Computed tomography of the chest is the most appropriate imaging study for diagnosing suspected pulmonary causes of chronic dyspnea. To diagnose pulmonary arterial hypertension or certain interstitial lung diseases, right heart catheterization or bronchoscopy may be needed.


The Adult Well Male Examination - Article

ABSTRACT: The adult well male examination should incorporate evidence-based guidance toward the promotion of optimal health and well-being, including screening tests shown to improve health outcomes. Nearly one-third of men report not having a primary care physician. The medical history should include substance use; risk factors for sexually transmitted infections; diet and exercise habits; and symptoms of depression. Physical examination should include blood pressure and body mass index screening. Men with sustained blood pressures greater than 135/80 mm Hg should be screened for diabetes mellitus. Lipid screening is warranted in all men 35 years and older, and in men 20 to 34 years of age who have cardiovascular risk factors. Ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm should occur between 65 and 75 years of age in men who have ever smoked. There is insufficient evidence to recommend screening men for osteoporosis or skin cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has provisionally recommended against prostate-specific antigen–based screening for prostate cancer because the harms of testing and overtreatment outweigh potential benefits. Screening for colorectal cancer should begin at 50 years of age in men of average risk and continue until at least 75 years of age. Screening should be performed by high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing every year, flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years combined with annual fecal occult blood testing, or colonoscopy every 10 years. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against screening for testicular cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Immunizations should be recommended according to guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Do Electronic Health Records Improve Processes and Outcomes of Preventive Care? - Editorials


Amenorrhea: An Approach to Diagnosis and Management - Article

ABSTRACT: Although amenorrhea may result from a number of different conditions, a systematic evaluation including a detailed history, physical examination, and laboratory assessment of selected serum hormone levels can usually identify the underlying cause. Primary amenorrhea, which by definition is failure to reach menarche, is often the result of chromosomal irregularities leading to primary ovarian insufficiency (e.g., Turner syndrome) or anatomic abnormalities (e.g., Müllerian agenesis). Secondary amenorrhea is defined as the cessation of regular menses for three months or the cessation of irregular menses for six months. Most cases of secondary amenorrhea can be attributed to polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothalamic amenorrhea, hyperprolactinemia, or primary ovarian insufficiency. Pregnancy should be excluded in all cases. Initial workup of primary and secondary amenorrhea includes a pregnancy test and serum levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, prolactin, and thyroid-stimulating hormone. Patients with primary ovarian insufficiency can maintain unpredictable ovarian function and should not be presumed infertile. Patients with hypothalamic amenorrhea should be evaluated for eating disorders and are at risk for decreased bone density. Patients with polycystic ovary syndrome are at risk for glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome. Patients with Turner syndrome (or variant) should be treated by a physician familiar with the appropriate screening and treatment measures. Treatment goals for patients with amenorrhea may vary considerably, and depend on the patient and the specific diagnosis.


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