Items in AFP with MESH term: Physical Examination
ABSTRACT: Muscle weakness is a common complaint among patients presenting to family physicians. Diagnosis begins with a patient history distinguishing weakness from fatigue or asthenia, separate conditions with different etiologies that can coexist with, or be confused for, weakness. The pattern and severity of weakness, associated symptoms, medication use, and family history help the physician determine whether the cause of a patient's weakness is infectious, neurologic, endocrine, inflammatory, rheumatologic, genetic, metabolic, electrolyte-induced, or drug-induced. In the physical examination, the physician should objectively document the patient's loss of strength, conduct a neurologic survey, and search for patterns of weakness and extramuscular involvement. If a specific cause of weakness is suspected, the appropriate laboratory or radiologic studies should be performed. Otherwise, electromyography is indicated to confirm the presence of a myopathy or to evaluate for a neuropathy or a disease of the neuromuscular junction. If the diagnosis remains unclear, the examiner should pursue a tiered progression of laboratory studies. Physicians should begin with blood chemistries and a thyroid-stimulating hormone assay to evaluate for electrolyte and endocrine causes, then progress to creatine kinase level, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and antinuclear antibody assays to evaluate for rheumatologic, inflammatory, genetic, and metabolic causes. Finally, many myopathies require a biopsy for diagnosis. Pathologic evaluation of the muscle tissue specimen focuses on histologic, histochemical, electron microscopic, biochemical, and genetic analyses; advances in technique have made a definitive diagnosis possible for many myopathies.
ABSTRACT: Peripheral vascular disease is a manifestation of systemic atherosclerosis that leads to significant narrowing of arteries distal to the arch of the aorta. The most common symptom of peripheral vascular disease is intermittent claudication. At other times, peripheral vascular disease leads to acute or critical limb ischemia. Intermittent claudication manifests as pain in the muscles of the legs with exercise; it is experienced by 2 percent of persons older than 65 years. Physical findings include abnormal pedal pulses, femoral artery bruit, delayed venous filling time, cool skin, and abnormal skin color. Most patients present with subtle findings and lack classic symptoms, which makes the diagnosis difficult. The standard office-based test to determine the presence of peripheral vascular disease is calculation of the ankle-brachial index. Magnetic resonance arteriography, duplex scanning, and hemodynamic localization are noninvasive methods for lesion localization and may be helpful when symptoms or findings do not correlate with the ankle-brachial index. Contrast arteriography is used for definitive localization before intervention. Treatment is divided into lifestyle, medical, and surgical therapies. Lifestyle therapies focus on exercise, smoking cessation, and dietary modification. Medical therapy is directed at reducing platelet aggregation. In addition, patients with contributing disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia need to have these conditions managed as aggressively as possible. Surgical therapies include stents, arterectomies, angioplasty, and bypass surgery.
The Patient with Daily Headaches - Article
ABSTRACT: The term 'chronic daily headache' (CDH) describes a variety of headache types, of which chronic migraine is the most common. Daily headaches often are disabling and may be challenging to diagnose and treat. Medication overuse, or drug rebound headache, is the most treatable cause of refractory daily headache. A pathologic underlying cause should be considered in patients with recent-onset daily headache, a change from a previous headache pattern, or associated neurologic or systemic symptoms. Treatment of CDH focuses on reduction of headache triggers and use of preventive medication, most commonly anti-depressants, antiepileptic drugs, and beta blockers. Medication overuse must be treated with discontinuation of symptomatic medicines, a transitional therapy, and long-term prophylaxis. Anxiety and depression are common in patients with CDH and should be identified and treated. Although the condition is challenging, appropriate treatment of patients with CDH can bring about significant improvement in the patient's quality-of-life.
ABSTRACT: Apparent life-threatening event syndrome predominantly affects children younger than one year. This syndrome is characterized by a frightening constellation of symptoms in which the child exhibits some combination of apnea, change in color, change in muscle tone, coughing, or gagging. Approximately 50 percent of these children are diagnosed with an underlying condition that explains the apparent life-threatening event. Commonly, the problems are digestive (up to 50 percent), neurologic (30 percent), respiratory (20 percent), cardiac (5 percent), and endocrine or metabolic (less than 5 percent). Fifty percent of these events are idiopathic, which causes great concern to parents and physicians. The evaluation of an affected infant involves a thorough description of the event as well as prenatal, birth, medical, social, and family history. The physical examination, including careful neurologic examination and notation of any apparent anatomic abnormalities, helps diagnose congenital problems, infection, and conditions contributing to respiratory compromise. The laboratory evaluation is driven by historical and physical findings. Inpatient evaluation and monitoring are recommended in virtually all cases unless investigations are normal. Should the history reflect a severe episode, or should the child require major interventions such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, inpatient observation and monitoring are recommended, even if physical examination and laboratory findings are normal. Once a presumptive diagnosis is made, events should cease after appropriate intervention. If not, reviewing the history, performing another physical examination, and reassessing the need for laboratory and imaging studies are the next steps. Although consensus statements by the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics support home monitoring, the relationship of apparent life-threatening event syndrome to sudden infant death syndrome is controversial.
Evaluation of Syncope - Article
ABSTRACT: Though relatively common, syncope is a complex presenting symptom defined by a transient loss of consciousness, usually accompanied by falling, and with spontaneous recovery. Syncope must be carefully differentiated from other conditions that may cause a loss of consciousness or falling. Syncope can be classified into four categories: reflex mediated, cardiac, orthostatic, and cerebrovascular. A cardiac cause of syncope is associated with significantly higher rates of morbidity and mortality than other causes. The evaluation of syncope begins with a careful history, physical examination, and electrocardiography. Additional testing should be based on the initial clinical evaluation. Older patients and those with underlying organic heart disease or abnormal electrocardiograms generally will need additional cardiac evaluation, which may include prolonged electrocardiographic monitoring, echocardiography, and exercise stress testing. When structural heart disease is excluded, tests for neurogenic reflex-mediated syncope, such as head-up tilt-table testing and carotid sinus massage, should be performed. The use of tests such as head computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, carotid and transcranial ultrasonography, and electroencephalography to detect cerebrovascular causes of syncope should be reserved for those few patients with syncope whose history suggests a neurologic event or who have focal neurologic signs or symptoms.
Hemoptysis: Diagnosis and Management - Article
ABSTRACT: Hemoptysis is the spitting of blood that originated in the lungs or bronchial tubes. The patient's history should help determine the amount of blood and differentiate between hemoptysis, pseudohemoptysis, and hematemesis. A focused physical examination can lead to the diagnosis in most cases. In children, lower respiratory tract infection and foreign body aspiration are common causes. In adults, bronchitis, bronchogenic carcinoma, and pneumonia are the major causes. Chest radiographs often aid in diagnosis and assist in using two complementary diagnostic procedures, fiberoptic bronchoscopy and high-resolution computed tomography, which are useful in difficult cases and when malignancy is suspected. The goals of management are threefold: bleeding cessation, aspiration prevention, and treatment of the underlying cause. Mild hemoptysis often is caused by an infection that can be managed on an outpatient basis with dose monitoring. If hemoptysis persists, consulting with a pulmonologist should be considered. Patients with risk factors for malignancy or recurrent hemoptysis also require further evaluation with fiberoptic bronchoscopy or high-resolution computed tomography. In up to 34 percent of patients, no cause of hemoptysis can be found.
Diagnosis and Management of Galactorrhea - Article
ABSTRACT: After infancy, galactorrhea usually is medication-induced. The most common pathologic cause of galactorrhea is a pituitary tumor. Other causes include hypothalamic and pituitary stalk lesions, neurogenic stimulation, thyroid disorders, and chronic renal failure. Patients with the latter conditions may have irregular menses, infertility, and osteopenia or osteoporosis if they have associated hyperprolactinemia. Tests for pregnancy, serum prolactin level and serum thyroid-stimulating hormone level, and magnetic resonance imaging are important diagnostic tools that should be employed when clinically indicated. The underlying cause of galactorrhea should be treated when possible. The decision to treat patients with galactorrhea is based on the serum prolactin level, the severity of galactorrhea, and the patient's fertility desires. Dopamine agonists are the treatment of choice in most patients with hyperprolactinemic disorders. Bromocriptine is the preferred agent for treatment of hyperprolactin-induced anovulatory infertility. Although cabergoline is more effective and better tolerated than bromocriptine, it is more expensive, and treatment must be discontinued one month before conception is attempted. Surgical resection rarely is required for prolactinomas.
Evaluation of Chronic Dyspnea - Article
ABSTRACT: Chronic dyspnea is defined as dyspnea lasting more than one month. In approximately two thirds of patients presenting with dyspnea, the underlying cause is cardiopulmonary disease. Establishing an accurate diagnosis is essential because treatment differs depending on the underlying condition. Asthma, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, cardiac ischemia, interstitial lung disease, and psychogenic causes account for 85 percent of patients with this principal symptom. The history and physical examination should guide selection of initial diagnostic tests such as electrocardiogram, chest radiograph, pulse oximetry, spirometry, complete blood count, and metabolic panel. If these are inconclusive, additional testing is indicated. Formal pulmonary function testing may be needed to establish a diagnosis of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or interstitial lung disease. High-resolution computed tomography is particularly useful for diagnosing interstitial lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, bronchiectasis, or pulmonary embolism. Echocardiography and brain natriuretic peptide levels help establish a diagnosis of congestive heart failure. If the diagnosis remains unclear, additional tests may be required. These include ventilation perfusion scans, Holter monitoring, cardiac catheterization, esophageal pH monitoring, lung biopsy, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
Initial Evaluation of Vertigo - Article
ABSTRACT: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, acute vestibular neuronitis, and Meniere's disease cause most cases of vertigo; however, family physicians must consider other causes including cerebrovascular disease, migraine, psychological disease, perilymphatic fistulas, multiple sclerosis, and intracranial neoplasms. Once it is determined that a patient has vertigo, the next task is to determine whether the patient has a peripheral or central cause of vertigo. Knowing the typical clinical presentations of the various causes of vertigo aids in making this distinction. The history (i.e., timing and duration of symptoms, provoking factors, associated signs and symptoms) and physical examination (especially of the head and neck and neurologic systems, as well as special tests such as the Dix-Hallpike maneuver) provide important clues to the diagnosis. Associated neurologic signs and symptoms, such as nystagmus that does not lessen when the patient focuses, point to central (and often more serious) causes of vertigo, which require further work-up with selected laboratory and radiologic studies such as magnetic resonance imaging.
ABSTRACT: Patients with community-acquired pneumonia often present with cough, fever, chills, fatigue, dyspnea, rigors, and pleuritic chest pain. When a patient presents with suspected community-acquired pneumonia, the physician should first assess the need for hospitalization using a mortality prediction tool, such as the Pneumonia Severity Index, combined with clinical judgment. Consensus guidelines from several organizations recommend empiric therapy with macrolides, fluoroquinolones, or doxycycline. Patients who are hospitalized should be switched from parenteral antibiotics to oral antibiotics after their symptoms improve, they are afebrile, and they are able to tolerate oral medications. Clinical pathways are important tools to improve care and maximize cost-effectiveness in hospitalized patients.