Items in AFP with MESH term: Severity of Illness Index
ABSTRACT: Primary care physicians should have a working knowledge of rheumatic diseases of childhood that manifest primarily as musculoskeletal pain. Children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can present with painless joint inflammation and may have normal results on rheumatologic tests. Significant morbidity may result from associated painless uveitis, and children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis should be screened by an ophthalmologist. The spondyloarthropathies (including juvenile ankylosing spondylitis and reactive arthritis) often cause enthesitis, and patients typically have positive results on a human leukocyte antigen B27 test and negative results on an antinuclear antibody test. Patients with acute rheumatic fever present with migratory arthritis two to three weeks after having untreated group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis. Henoch-Schbnlein purpura may manifest as arthritis before the classic purpuric rash appears. Systemic lupus erythematosus is rare in childhood but may cause significant morbidity and mortality if not treated early. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy may be useful early interventions if a rheumatic illness is suspected. Family physicians should refer children when the diagnosis is in question or subspecialty treatment is required. Part I of this series discusses an approach to diagnosis with judicious use of laboratory and radiologic testing.
ABSTRACT: Mild acute pancreatitis has a low mortality rate, but patients with severe acute pancreatitis are more likely to develop complications and have a much higher death rate. Although serum amylase and lipase levels remain the most widely used diagnostic assays for acute pancreatitis, other biomarkers and inflammatory mediators such as trypsinogens are being investigated for clinical use. Ranson's criteria, the Imrie scoring system, the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II) scale, and the Computed Tomography Severity Index are systems for classifying severity of this disease; the Atlanta classification is widely used to compare these systems and standardize clinical trials. New developments in imaging modalities such as endoscopic ultrasonography and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography increase the options available to physicians for determining the cause of pancreatitis and assessing for complications. Enteral nutrition is preferred to parental nutrition for improving patient outcomes. Clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate the role, selection, and timing of antibiotics in patients with infected necrosis.
Gout: An Update - Article
ABSTRACT: Arthritis caused by gout (i.e., gouty arthritis) accounts for millions of outpatient visits annually, and the prevalence is increasing. Gout is caused by monosodium urate crystal deposition in tissues leading to arthritis, soft tissue masses (i.e., tophi), nephrolithiasis, and urate nephropathy. The biologic precursor to gout is elevated serum uric acid levels (i.e., hyperuricemia). Asymptomatic hyperuricemia is common and usually does not progress to clinical gout. Acute gout most often presents as attacks of pain, erythema, and swelling of one or a few joints in the lower extremities. The diagnosis is confirmed if monosodium urate crystals are present in synovial fluid. First-line therapy for acute gout is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids, depending on comorbidities; colchicine is second-line therapy. After the first gout attack, modifiable risk factors (e.g., high-purine diet, alcohol use, obesity, diuretic therapy) should be addressed. Urate-lowering therapy for gout is initiated after multiple attacks or after the development of tophi or urate nephrolithiasis. Allopurinol is the most common therapy for chronic gout. Uricosuric agents are alternative therapies in patients with preserved renal function and no history of nephrolithiasis. During urate-lowering therapy, the dose should be titrated upward until the serum uric acid level is less than 6 mg per dL (355 micromol per L). When initiating urate-lowering therapy, concurrent prophylactic therapy with low-dose colchicine for three to six months may reduce flare-ups.
ABSTRACT: Urinary retention is the inability to voluntarily void urine. This condition can be acute or chronic. Causes of urinary retention are numerous and can be classified as obstructive, infectious and inflammatory, pharmacologic, neurologic, or other. The most common cause of urinary retention is benign prostatic hyperplasia. Other common causes include prostatitis, cystitis, urethritis, and vulvovaginitis; receiving medications in the anticholinergic and alphaadrenergic agonist classes; and cortical, spinal, or peripheral nerve lesions. Obstructive causes in women often involve the pelvic organs. A thorough history, physical examination, and selected diagnostic testing should determine the cause of urinary retention in most cases. Initial management includes bladder catheterization with prompt and complete decompression. Men with acute urinary retention from benign prostatic hyperplasia have an increased chance of returning to normal voiding if alpha blockers are started at the time of catheter insertion. Suprapubic catheterization may be superior to urethral catheterization for short-term management and silver alloy-impregnated urethral catheters have been shown to reduce urinary tract infection. Patients with chronic urinary retention from neurogenic bladder should be able to manage their condition with clean, intermittent self-catheterization; low-friction catheters have shown benefit in these patients. Definitive management of urinary retention will depend on the etiology and may include surgical and medical treatments.
ABSTRACT: Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease with recurrent symptoms and significant morbidity. The precise etiology is still unknown. As many as 25 percent of patients with ulcerative colitis have extraintestinal manifestations. The diagnosis is made endoscopically. Tests such as perinuclear antineutrophilic cytoplasmic antibodies and anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies are promising, but not yet recommended for routine use. Treatment is based on the extent and severity of the disease. Rectal therapy with 5-aminosalicylic acid compounds is used for proctitis. More extensive disease requires treatment with oral 5-aminosalicylic acid compounds and oral corticosteroids. The side effects of steroids limit their usefulness for chronic therapy. Patients who do not respond to treatment with oral corticosteroids require hospitalization and intravenous steroids. Refractory symptoms may be treated with azathioprine or infliximab. Surgical treatment of ulcerative colitis is reserved for patients who fail medical therapy or who develop severe hemorrhage, perforation, or cancer. Longstanding ulcerative colitis is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. Patients should receive an initial screening colonoscopy eight years after the onset of pancolitis and 12 to 15 years after the onset of left-sided disease; follow-up colonoscopy should be repeated every two to three years.
ABSTRACT: Physicians are frequently involved in the assessment of impairment and disability as the treating physician, in consultation, or as an independent medical examiner. The key elements of this assessment include a comprehensive clinical evaluation and appropriate standardized testing to establish the diagnosis, characterize the severity of impairment, and communicate the patient's abilities, restrictions, and need for accommodation. In some cases, a functional capacity evaluation performed by a physical or occupational therapist or a neuropsychological evaluation performed by a neuropsychologist may be required to further clarify the functional capacity of the patient. The results of the impairment evaluation should be communicated in clear, simple terms to nonmedical professionals representing the benefits systems. These individuals make the final determination on the extent of disability and eligibility for benefits and compensation under that particular benefits system.
ABSTRACT: Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition affecting older men. Typical presenting symptoms include urinary hesitancy, weak stream, nocturia, incontinence, and recurrent urinary tract infections. Acute urinary retention, which requires urgent bladder catheterization, is relatively uncommon. Irreversible renal damage is rare. The initial evaluation should assess the frequency and severity of symptoms and the impact of symptoms on the patient's quality of life. The American Urological Association Symptom Index is a validated instrument for the objective assessment of symptom severity. The initial evaluation should also include a digital rectal examination and urinalysis. Men with hematuria should be evaluated for bladder cancer. A palpable nodule or induration of the prostate requires referral for assessment to rule out prostate cancer. For men with mild symptoms, watchful waiting with annual reassessment is appropriate. Over the past decade, numerous medical and surgical interventions have been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Alpha blockers improve symptoms relatively quickly. Although 5-alpha reductase inhibitors have a slower onset of action, they may decrease prostate size and alter the disease course. Limited evidence shows that the herbal agents saw palmetto extract, rye grass pollen extract, and pygeum relieve symptoms. Transurethral resection of the prostate often provides permanent relief. Newer laser-based surgical techniques have comparable effectiveness to transurethral resection up to two years after surgery with lower perioperative morbidity. Various outpatient surgical techniques are associated with reduced morbidity, but symptom relief may be less durable.
Diagnosis of Ear Pain - Article
ABSTRACT: Many patients in primary care present with ear pain (otalgia). When the ear is the source of the pain (primary otalgia), the ear examination is usually abnormal. When the ear is not the source of the pain (secondary otalgia), the ear examination is typically normal. The cause of primary otalgia is usually apparent on examination; the most common causes are otitis media and otitis externa. The cause of secondary otalgia is often difficult to determine because the innervation of the ear is complex and there are many potential sources of referred pain. The most common causes are temporomandibular joint syndrome, pharyngitis, dental disease, and cervical spine arthritis. If the diagnosis is not clear from the history and physical examination, options include a trial of symptomatic treatment without a clear diagnosis; imaging studies; and consultation with an otolaryngologist. Patients who smoke, drink alcohol, are older than 50 years, or have diabetes are at higher risk of a cause of ear pain that needs further evaluation. Patients whose history or physical examination increases suspicion for a serious occult cause of ear pain or whose symptoms persist after symptomatic treatment should be considered for further evaluation, such as magnetic resonance imaging, fiberoptic nasolaryngoscopy, or an erythrocyte sedimentation rate measurement.
ABSTRACT: Heart failure caused by systolic dysfunction affects more than 5 million adults in the United States and is a common source of outpatient visits to primary care physicians. Mortality rates are high, yet a number of pharmacologic interventions may improve outcomes. Other interventions, including patient education, counseling, and regular self-monitoring, are critical, but are beyond the scope of this article. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and beta blockers reduce mortality and should be administered to all patients unless contraindicated. Diuretics are indicated for symptomatic patients as needed for volume overload. Aldosterone antagonists and direct-acting vasodilators, such as isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine, may improve mortality in selected patients. Angiotensin receptor blockers can be used as an alternative therapy for patients intolerant of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and in some patients who are persistently symptomatic. Digoxin may improve symptoms and is helpful for persons with concomitant atrial fibrillation, but it does not reduce cardiovascular or all-cause mortality. Serum digoxin levels should not exceed 1.0 ng per mL (1.3 nmol per L), especially in women.
The Injured Ankle - Article
ABSTRACT: Ankle injuries are common presenting complaints in both emergency departments and family physicians' offices. Approximately 1 million ankle injuries occur annually in the United States; most of them are sprains resulting from inversion injuries. Treatment options differ according to the grade of injury--grade I and grade II sprains usually respond to rest and immobilization, while grade III sprains require casting or, possibly, surgery. A chronic "ankle" injury should prompt evaluation for other conditions, such as talar dome lesion. Most ankle injuries can be treated adequately in the family physician's office, although some of the more serious injuries should be referred to an orthopedic specialist for further evaluation.