Items in AFP with MESH term: Referral and Consultation
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.
Diagnosis of Acute Coronary Syndrome - Article
ABSTRACT: The term 'acute coronary syndrome' encompasses a range of thrombotic coronary artery diseases, including unstable angina and both ST-segment elevation and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. Diagnosis requires an electrocardiogram and a careful review for signs and symptoms of cardiac ischemia. In acute coronary syndrome, common electrocardiographic abnormalities include T-wave tenting or inversion, ST-segment elevation or depression (including J-point elevation in multiple leads), and pathologic Q waves. Risk stratification allows appropriate referral of patients to a chest pain center or emergency department, where cardiac enzyme levels can be assessed. Most high-risk patients should be hospitalized. Intermediate-risk patients should undergo a structured evaluation, often in a chest pain unit. Many low-risk patients can be discharged with appropriate follow-up. Troponin T or I generally is the most sensitive determinant of acute coronary syndrome, although the MB isoenzyme of creatine kinase also is used. Early markers of acute ischemia include myoglobin and creatine kinase-MB subforms (or isoforms), when available. In the future, advanced diagnostic modalities, such as myocardial perfusion imaging, may have a role in reducing unnecessary hospitalizations.
Cerumen Impaction - Article
ABSTRACT: Cerumen is a naturally occurring, normally extruded product of the external auditory canal. It is usually asymptomatic, but when it becomes impacted it can cause complications such as hearing loss, pain, or dizziness. It also can interfere with examination of the tympanic membrane. Depending on available equipment, physician skill, and patient circumstances, treatment options for cerumen impaction include watchful waiting, manual removal, the use of ceruminolytic agents, and irrigation with or without ceruminolytic pretreatment. The overall quality of the evidence on treatment is limited. Referral to an otolaryngologist for further evaluation is indicated if treatment with a ceruminolytic agent followed by irrigation is ineffective, if manual removal is not possible, if the patient develops severe pain or has vertigo during irrigation, or if hearing loss is still present after cerumen has been removed. The use of cotton swabs and ear candles should be avoided.
Somatoform Disorders - Article
ABSTRACT: The somatoform disorders are a group of psychiatric disorders that cause unexplained physical symptoms. They include somatization disorder (involving multisystem physical symptoms), undifferentiated somatoform disorder (fewer symptoms than somatization disorder), conversion disorder (voluntary motor or sensory function symptoms), pain disorder (pain with strong psychological involvement), hypochondriasis (fear of having a life-threatening illness or condition), body dysmorphic disorder (preoccupation with a real or imagined physical defect), and somatoform disorder not otherwise specified (used when criteria are not dearly met for one of the other somatoform disorders). These disorders should be considered early in the evaluation of patients with unexplained symptoms to prevent unnecessary interventions and testing. Treatment success can be enhanced by discussing the possibility of a somatoform disorder with the patient early in the evaluation process, limiting unnecessary diagnostic and medical treatments, focusing on the management of the disorder rather than its cure, using appropriate medications and psychotherapy for comorbidities, maintaining a psychoeducational and collaborative relationship with patients, and referring patients to mental health professionals when appropriate.
ABSTRACT: Substance abuse in adolescents is undertreated in the United States. Family physicians are well positioned to recognize substance use in their patients and to take steps to address the issue before use escalates. Comorbid mental disorders among adolescents with substance abuse include depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder. Office-, home-, and school-based drug testing is not routinely recommended. Screening tools for adolescent substance abuse include the CRAFFT questionnaire. Family therapy is crucial in the management of adolescent substance use disorders. Although family physicians may be able to treat adolescents with substance use disorders in the office setting, it is often necessary and prudent to refer patients to one or more appropriate consultants who specialize specifically in substance use disorders, psychology, or psychiatry. Treatment options include anticipatory guidance, brief therapeutic counseling, school-based drug-counseling programs, outpatient substance abuse clinics, day treatment programs, and inpatient and residential programs. Working within community and family contexts, family physicians can activate and oversee the system of professionals and treatment components necessary for optimal management of substance misuse in adolescents.
ABSTRACT: Chronic shoulder pain is a common problem in the primary care physician's office. Effective treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis of the more common etiologies: rotator cuff disorders, adhesive capsulitis, acromioclavicular osteoarthritis, glenohumeral osteoarthritis, and instability. Activity modification and analgesic medications comprise the initial treatment in most cases. If this does not lead to improvement, or if the initial presentation is of sufficient severity, a trial of physical therapy that focuses on the specific diagnosis is indicated. Combined steroid and local anesthetic injections can be used alone or as an adjuvant to the physical therapy. The site of the injection (subacromial, acromioclavicular joint, or intra-articular) depends on the diagnosis. Injections into the glenohumeral joint should be done under fluoroscopic guidance. Symptoms that persist or worsen after six to 12 weeks of directed treatment should be referred to an orthopedic specialist.
ABSTRACT: Hospice is available for any patient who is terminally ill and chooses a palliative care approach. Because of the close relationship that primary care physicians often have with their patients, they are in a unique position to provide end-of-life care, which includes recognizing the need for and recommending hospice care when appropriate. The hospice benefit covers all expenses related to the terminal illness, including medication, nursing care, and equipment. Hospice should be considered when a patient has New York Heart Association class IV heart failure, severe dementia, activity-limiting lung disease, or metastatic cancer. Timely referrals are beneficial to both patient and hospice because of the cost related to initiating services and the time required to form a therapeutic relationship. Once the decision to refer to hospice is made, the family physician typically continues to be the patient's primary attending physician. The attending physician is expected to remain in charge of the patient's care, write orders, see the patient for office visits, and complete and sign the death certificate. Hospice, in turn, is a valuable physician resource when it comes to medication dosages, symptom management, and communication with patients and their families.
ABSTRACT: Primary care physicians are often asked about easy bruising, excessive bleeding, or risk of bleeding before surgery. A thorough history, including a family history, will guide the appropriate work-up, and a physical examination may provide clues to diagnosis. A standardized bleeding score system can help physicians to organize the patient's bleeding history and to avoid overlooking the most common inherited bleeding disorder, von Willebrand's disease. In cases of suspected bleeding disorders, initial laboratory evaluations should include a complete blood count with platelet count, peripheral blood smear, prothrombin time, and partial thromboplastin time. More specialized yet relatively simple tests, such as the Platelet Function Analyzer-100, mixing studies, and inhibitor assays, may also be helpful. These tests can help diagnose platelet function disorders, quantitative platelet disorders, factor deficiencies, and factor inhibitors.
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