Items in AFP with MESH term: Evidence-Based Medicine
ABSTRACT: Traditional clinical review articles, also known as updates, differ from systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Updates selectively review the medical literature while discussing a topic broadly. Non-quantitative systematic reviews comprehensively examine the medical literature, seeking to identify and synthesize all relevant information to formulate the best approach to diagnosis or treatment. Meta-analyses (quantitative systematic reviews) seek to answer a focused clinical question, using rigorous statistical analysis of pooled research studies. This article presents guidelines for writing an evidence-based clinical review article for American Family Physician. First, the topic should be of common interest and relevance to family practice. Include a table of the continuing medical education objectives of the review. State how the literature search was done and include several sources of evidence-based reviews, such as the Cochrane Collaboration, BMJ's Clinical Evidence, or the InfoRetriever Web site. Where possible, use evidence based on clinical outcomes relating to morbidity, mortality, or quality of life, and studies of primary care populations. In articles submitted to American Family Physician, rate the level of evidence for key recommendations according to the following scale: level A (randomized controlled trial [RCT], meta-analysis); level B (other evidence); level C (consensus/expert opinion). Finally, provide a table of key summary points.
ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer is a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality in the United States. Studies published in the early 1990s, showing that screening for colorectal cancer can reduce colorectal cancer-related mortality, led many organizations to recommend screening in asymptomatic, average-risk adults older than 50 years. Since then, however, national screening rates remain low. Several important studies published over the past four years have refined our understanding of existing screening tools and explored novel means of screening and prevention. The most important new developments, which are reviewed in this article, include the following: Additional trial results support the effectiveness of fecal occult blood testing in reducing the incidence of, and mortality from, colorectal cancer. New studies document the sensitivity of fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, and double-contrast barium enema compared with colonoscopy. Cost-effectiveness models show that screening by any of several methods is cost-effective compared to no screening. Randomized trials show that calcium is effective but fiber is not effective in preventing reoccurrence of adenomatous polyps. Preliminary data suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent adenomatous polyps and that DNA stool tests and virtual colonoscopy may show promise as screening tools. This new information provides further support for efforts to increase the use of colorectal cancer screening and prevention services in adults older than 50 years.
ABSTRACT: A large number of taxonomies are used to rate the quality of an individual study and the strength of a recommendation based on a body of evidence. We have developed a new grading scale that will be used by several family medicine and primary care journals (required or optional), with the goal of allowing readers to learn one taxonomy that will apply to many sources of evidence. Our scale is called the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy. It addresses the quality, quantity, and consistency of evidence and allows authors to rate individual studies or bodies of evidence. The taxonomy is built around the information mastery framework, which emphasizes the use of patient-oriented outcomes that measure changes in morbidity or mortality. An A-level recommendation is based on consistent and good-quality patient-oriented evidence; a B-level recommendation is based on inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence; and a C-level recommendation is based on consensus, usual practice, opinion, disease-oriented evidence, or case series for studies of diagnosis, treatment, prevention, or screening. Levels of evidence from 1 to 3 for individual studies also are defined. We hope that consistent use of this taxonomy will improve the ability of authors and readers to communicate about the translation of research into practice.
ABSTRACT: Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the vertebral canal that compresses spinal nerves and may cause leg pain and difficulty walking. The symptoms of degenerative lumbar stenosis commonly occur in elderly adults and can be treated conservatively with pain-relieving agents or aggressively with decompressive surgery. Most studies of the effectiveness of treatments are poor in quality; however, there appear to be potential relationships between treatments, patient characteristics, and treatment outcomes. Studies indicate the following: (1) local anesthetic block can reduce symptoms on a short-term basis, while epidural steroids offer no additional benefit; (2) patients with moderate or severe symptoms benefit more from surgery than from conservative therapy; and (3) patients with leg pain and severely restricted walking ability regain mobility after surgery. Definitive evidence-based conclusions about the efficacy of conservative or surgical treatments await the results of well-designed clinical trials.
Management of Genital Warts - Article
ABSTRACT: Genital warts caused by human papillomavirus infection are encountered commonly in primary care. Evidence guiding treatment selection is limited, but treatment guidelines recently have changed. Biopsy, viral typing, acetowhite staining, and other diagnostic measures are not routinely required. The goal of treatment is clearance of visible warts; some evidence exists that treatment reduces infectivity, but there is no evidence that treatment reduces the incidence of cervical and genital cancer. The choice of therapy is based on the number, size, site, and morphology of lesions, as well as patient preferences, cost, convenience, adverse effects, and clinician experience. Patient-applied therapy such as imiquimod cream or podofilox is increasingly recommended. Podofilox, imiquimod, surgical excision, and cryotherapy are the most convenient and effective options. Fluorouracil and interferon are no longer recommended for routine use. The cost per successful treatment course is approximately dollars 200 to dollars 300 for podofilox, cryotherapy, electrodesiccation, surgical excision, laser treatment, and the loop electrosurgical excision procedure.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothermia - Article
ABSTRACT: Although hypothermia is most common in patients who are exposed to a cold environment, it can develop secondary to toxin exposure, metabolic derangements, infections, and dysfunction of the central nervous and endocrine systems. The clinical presentation of hypothermia includes a spectrum of symptoms and is grouped into the following three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. Management depends on the degree of hypothermia present. Treatment modalities range from noninvasive, passive external warming techniques (e.g., removal of cold, wet clothing; movement to a warm environment) to active external rewarming (e.g., insulation with warm blankets) to active core rewarming (e.g., warmed intravenous fluid infusions, heated humidified oxygen, body cavity lavage, and extracorporeal blood warming). Mild to moderate hypothermia is treated easily with supportive care in most clinical settings and has good patient outcomes. The treatment of severe hypothermia is more complex, and outcomes depend heavily on clinical resources. Prevention and recognition of atypical presentations are essential to reducing the rates of morbidity and mortality associated with this condition.
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: All pregnant women should be offered screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria, syphilis, rubella, and hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus infection early in pregnancy. Women at increased risk should be tested for hepatitis C infection, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. All women should be questioned about their history of chickenpox and genital or orolabial herpes. Routine screening for bacterial vaginosis is not recommended. Influenza vaccination is recommended in women who will be in their second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season. Women should be offered vaginorectal culture screening for group B streptococcal infection at 35 to 37 weeks' gestation. Colonized women and women with a history of group B streptococcal bacteriuria should be offered intrapartum intravenous antibiotics. Screening for gestational diabetes remains controversial. Women should be offered labor induction after 41 weeks' gestation.
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.
Diabetic Nephropathy: Common Questions - Article
ABSTRACT: Diabetic nephropathy, or diabetic kidney disease, affects 20 to 30 percent of patients with diabetes. It is a common cause of kidney failure. Diabetic nephropathy presents in its earliest stage with low levels of albumin (microalbuminuria) in the urine. The most practical method of screening for microalbuminuria is to assess the albumin-to-creatinine ratio with a spot urine test. Results of two of three tests for microalbuminuria should be more than 30 mg per day or 20 mcg per minute in a three- to six-month period to diagnose a patient with diabetic nephropathy. Slowing the progression of diabetic nephropathy can be achieved by optimizing blood pressure (130/80 mm Hg or less) and glycemic control, and by prescribing an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker. Patients with diabetes and isolated microalbuminuria or hypertension benefit from angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers. In the event that these medications cannot be prescribed, a nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocker may be considered. Serum creatinine and potassium levels should be monitored carefully for patients receiving angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers. These medications should be stopped if hyperkalemia is pronounced.