Items in AFP with MESH term: Referral and Consultation
ABSTRACT: Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise and the misuse of diuretics, laxatives or enemas. Although the etiology of this disorder is unknown, genetic and neurochemical factors have been implicated. Bulimia nervosa is 10 times more common in females than in males and affects up to 3 percent of young women. The condition usually becomes symptomatic between the ages of 13 and 20 years, and it has a chronic, sometimes episodic course. The long-term outcome has not been clarified. Other psychiatric conditions, including substance abuse, are frequently associated with bulimia nervosa and may compromise its diagnosis and treatment. Serious medical complications of bulimia nervosa are uncommon, but patients may suffer from dental erosion, swollen salivary glands, oral and hand trauma, gastrointestinal irritation and electrolyte imbalances (especially of potassium, calcium, sodium and hydrogen chloride). Treatment strategies are based on medication, psychotherapy or a combination of these modalities.
ABSTRACT: In the United States, prostate cancer is the most common solid tumor malignancy in men and second to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in this group. Even though prostate cancer is responsible for 40,000 deaths per year, screening programs are a matter of controversy because scientific evidence is lacking that early detection decreases morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, treatment decisions are difficult to make because of the generally indolent nature of prostate cancer and because it tends to occur in older men who often have multiple, competing medical illnesses. Depending on the specific situation, radical prostatectomy, radiotherapy or watchful waiting (observation) will be the most appropriate management option. In general, localized cancer is best treated with surgical removal of the prostate gland or radiotherapy. Hormone deprivation therapy is the primary method of controlling metastatic prostate cancer. At present, chemotherapy cannot cure disseminated prostate cancer. Watchful waiting is a reasonable management alternative for prostate cancer in an older patient or a patient with other serious illnesses.
Home Health Care - Article
ABSTRACT: Home health care is the fastest-growing expense in the Medicare program because of the aging population, the increasing prevalence of chronic disease and increasing hospital costs. Patients and families are choosing the option of home care more frequently. Medicare's regulations are often considered the standard of care for all home health agency interactions, even when a patient does not have Medicare insurance. These regulations require patients who receive home health care services to be under the care of a physician and to be homebound. The patient must have a documented need for skilled nursing care or physical, occupational or speech therapy. The care must be part time (28 hours or less per week, eight hours or less per day) and occur at least every 60 days except in special cases. A detailed referral and specific care plan maximize the care to the patient and the reimbursement received by the physician.
ABSTRACT: Soft tissue sarcomas account for fewer than 1 percent of malignancies diagnosed annually in the United States. These tumors usually present as an asymptomatic mass. Any lesion larger than 5 cm in diameter should be considered suspicious. Radiographs should be obtained as the initial step in assessing a suspicious lesion. Magnetic resonance imaging has become the preferred diagnostic examination for tumors involving the extremities, and computed tomographic scanning may be the best technique for imaging lesions in the thoracic, abdominal, and head and neck areas. In general, the patient with a suspicious soft tissue mass located in a surgically difficult area should be referred to a regional center for biopsy and multidisciplinary consultation before resection is attempted. Careful preoperative planning is necessary for a good outcome. The prognosis for the patient with a soft tissue sarcoma is primarily determined by the grade, size and depth of the tumor and the presence of tumor at the surgical margins.
Managing Somatic Preoccupation - Article
ABSTRACT: Somatically preoccupied patients are a heterogeneous group of persons who have no genuine physical disorder but manifest psychologic conflicts in a somatic fashion; who have a notable psychologic overlay that accompanies or complicates a genuine physical disorder; or who have psychophysiologic symptoms in which psychologic factors play a major role in physiologic symptoms. In the primary care setting, somatic preoccupation is far more prevalent among patients than are the psychiatric disorders collectively referred to as somatoform disorders (e.g., somatization disorder, hypochondriasis). Diagnostic clues include normal results from physical examination and diagnostic tests, multiple unexplained symptoms, high health care utilization patterns and specific factors in the family and the social history. Treatment may include a physician behavior management strategy, antidepressants, psychiatric consultation and cognitive-behavior therapy.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss - Article
ABSTRACT: Hearing loss caused by exposure to recreational and occupational noise results in devastating disability that is virtually 100 percent preventable. Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common form of sensorineural hearing deficit, after presbycusis (age-related hearing loss). Shearing forces caused by any sound have an impact on the stereocilia of the hair cells of the basilar membrane of the cochlea; when excessive, these forces can cause cell death. Avoiding noise exposure stops further progression of the damage. Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by avoiding excessive noise and using hearing protection such as earplugs and earmuffs. Patients who have been exposed to excessive noise should be screened. When hearing loss is suspected, a thorough history, physical examination and audiometry should be performed. If these examinations disclose evidence of hearing loss, referral for full audiologic evaluation is recommended.
ABSTRACT: Early diagnosis and management of the undescended testicle are needed to preserve fertility and improve early detection of testicular malignancy. Physical examination of the testicle can be difficult; consultation should be considered if a normal testis cannot be definitely identified. Observation is not recommended beyond one year of age because it delays treatment, lowers the rate of surgical success and probably impairs spermatogenesis. By six months of age, patients with undescended testicles should be evaluated by a pediatric urologist or other qualified subspecialist who can assist with diagnosis and treatment. Earlier referral may be warranted for bilateral nonpalpable testes in the newborn or for any child with both hypospadias and an undescended testis. Therapy for an undescended testicle should begin between six months and two years of age and may consist of hormone or surgical treatment. The success of either form of treatment depends on the position of the testicle at diagnosis. Recent improvements in surgical technique, including laparoscopic approaches to diagnosis and treatment, hold the promise of improved outcomes. While orchiopexy may not protect patients from developing testicular malignancy, the procedure allows for earlier detection through self-examination of the testicles.
Early Diagnosis of Dementia - Article
ABSTRACT: Until recently, the most significant issue facing a family physician regarding the diagnosis and treatment of dementia was ruling out delirium and potentially treatable etiologies. However, as more treatment options become available, it will become increasingly important to diagnose dementia early. Dementia may be suspected if memory deficits are exhibited during the medical history and physical examination. Information from the patient's family members, friends and caregivers may also point to signs of dementia. Distinguishing among age-related cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease may be difficult and requires evaluation of cognitive and functional status. Careful medical evaluation to exclude treatable causes of cognitive impairment is important. Patients with early dementia may benefit from formal neuropsychologic testing to aid in medical and social decision-making. Follow-up by the patient's family physician is appropriate in most patients. However, a subspecialist may be helpful in the diagnosis and management of patients with dementia with an unusual presentation or following an atypical course.
Fingertip Injuries - Article
ABSTRACT: The family physician often provides the first and only medical intervention for fingertip injuries. Proper diagnosis and management of fingertip injuries are vital to maintaining proper function of the hand and preventing permanent disability. A subungual hematoma is a painful condition that involves bleeding beneath the nail, usually after trauma. Treatment requires subungual decompression, which is achieved by creating small holes in the nail. A nail bed laceration is treated by removing the nail and suturing the injured nail bed. Closed fractures of the distal phalanx may require reduction but usually are minimally displaced and stable, and can be splinted. Open or intra-articular fractures of the distal phalanx may warrant referral. Patients with mallet finger cannot extend the distal interphalangeal joint because of a disruption of the extensor mechanism. Radiographs help to differentiate between tendinous and bony mallet types. Most mallet finger injuries heal with six to eight weeks of splinting, but some require referral. Flexor digitorum profundus avulsion always requires referral. Dislocations of the distal interphalangeal joint are rare and usually occur dorsally.
ABSTRACT: Solitary pulmonary nodules are common radiologic findings, typically discovered incidentally through chest radiography or computed tomography of the neck, chest, and abdomen. Primary care physicians must decide how to pursue an evaluation of a nodule once it has been identified. The differential diagnosis for pulmonary nodules includes benign and malignant causes. Diameter of 8 mm or more, "ground-glass" density, irregular borders, and doubling time between one month and one year suggest malignancy. The American College of Chest Physicians recently released guidelines for the evaluation of solitary pulmonary nodules, based primarily on nodule size and patient risk factors for cancer. Algorithms for the evaluation of lesions smaller than 8 mm and those 8 mm or greater recommend different imaging follow-up regimens. Fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography can be used to aid decision making when cancer pretest probability and imaging results are discordant. Any patient with evidence of a nodule with notable growth during follow-up should undergo biopsy for identification. The rationale for closely monitoring an incidentally found pulmonary lesion is that detection and treatment of early lung cancer might lead to decreased morbidity and mortality.