Clinical evaluation and treatment options for herniated lumbar disc.
Degeneration of the intervertebral disc from a combination of factors can result in herniation, particularly at the L4-5 and L5-S1 levels. The presence of pain, radiculopathy and other symptoms depends on the site and degree of herniation. A detailed history and careful physical examination, supplemented if necessary by magnetic resonance imaging, can differentiate a herniated lumbar disc from low back strain and other possible causes of similar symptoms. Most patients recover within four weeks of symptom onset. Many treatment modalities have been suggested for lumbar disc herniation, but studies often provide conflicting results. Initial screening for serious pathology and monitoring for the development of significant complications (such as neurologic defects, cauda equina syndrome or refractory pain) are essential in the management of lumbar disc herniation. (+info)
Incorporating advance care planning into family practice [see comment].
Despite widespread support for the concept of advance care planning, few Americans have a living will or a health care proxy. Advance care planning offers the patient the opportunity to have an ongoing dialog with his or her relatives and family physician regarding choices for care at the end of life. Ultimately, advance care planning is designed to clarify the patient's questions, fears and values, and thus improve the patient's well-being by reducing the frequency and magnitude of overtreatment and undertreatment as defined by the patient. An advance directive consists of oral and written instructions about a person's future medical care in the event he or she becomes unable to communicate. There are two types of advance directives: a living will and a health care power of attorney. Family physicians are in an ideal position to discuss advance care plans with their patients. By introducing the subject during a routine office visit, physicians can facilitate a structured discussion of the patient's wishes for end-of-life care. At the next visit, further discussion can include the patient and his or her proxy. A document that clearly delineates the patient's wishes is then developed. The patient should be assured that the directive can be changed at any time according to the patient's wishes. The advance care plan should be reviewed periodically to make sure the specifications continue to be in line with the patient's wishes. (+info)
Evaluation and treatment of childhood obesity.
The prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States has risen dramatically in the past several decades. Although 25 to 30 percent of children are affected, this condition is underdiagnosed and undertreated. Hormonal and genetic factors are rarely the cause of childhood obesity; unnecessary diagnostic evaluations can be avoided with a careful history and physical examination. Because obese children may suffer life-long physical and emotional consequences, it is imperative to discuss prevention with parents during well-child examinations. All obese children should be screened for cardiac risk factors, as well as for possible orthopedic, dermatologic and psychiatric sequelae. Treatment should be initiated when the trend in increasing weight obviously surpasses the trend in increasing height. Treatment plans should include reasonable weight-loss goals, dietary and physical activity management, behavior modification and family involvement, which may include weight loss in the parents. Anorexiant medications are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in pediatric populations. (+info)
Esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula.
Esophageal atresia, with or without tracheoesophageal fistula, is a fairly common congenital disorder that family physicians should consider in the differential diagnosis of a neonate who develops feeding difficulties and respiratory distress in the first few days of life. Esophageal atresia is often associated with other congenital anomalies, most commonly cardiac abnormalities such as ventricular septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus or tetralogy of Fallot. Prompt recognition, appropriate clinical management to prevent aspiration, and swift referral to an appropriate tertiary care center have resulted in a significant improvement in the rates of morbidity and mortality in these infants over the past 50 years. (+info)
Topical psoriasis therapy.
Psoriasis is a common dermatosis, affecting from 1 to 3 percent of the population. Until recently, the mainstays of topical therapy have been corticosteroids, tars, anthralins and keratolytics. Recently, however, vitamin D analogs, a new anthralin preparation and topical retinoids have expanded physicians' therapeutic armamentarium. These new topical therapies offer increased hope and convenience to the large patient population with psoriasis. (+info)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease: diagnosis and management.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic, relapsing condition with associated morbidity and an adverse impact on quality of life. The disease is common, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 25 to 35 percent in the U.S. population. GERD can usually be diagnosed based on the clinical presentation alone. In some patients, however, the diagnosis may require endoscopy and, rarely, ambulatory pH monitoring. Management includes lifestyle modifications and pharmacologic therapy; refractory disease requires surgery. The therapeutic goals are to control symptoms, heal esophagitis and maintain remission so that morbidity is decreased and quality of life is improved. (+info)
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: not really a zebra.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia was once considered a rare inherited disorder with severe manifestations. Mild congenital adrenal hyperplasia, however, is common, affecting one in 100 to 1,000 persons in the United States and frequently eluding diagnosis. Both classic and nonclassic forms of the disease are caused by deficiencies in the adrenal enzymes that are used to synthesize glucocorticoids. The net result is increased production from the adrenal gland of cortisol precursors and androgens. Even mild congenital adrenal hyperplasia can result in life-threatening sinus or pulmonary infections, orthostatic syncope, shortened stature and severe acne. Women with mild congenital adrenal hyperplasia often present with hirsutism, oligomenorrhea or infertility. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is diagnosed by demonstration of excess cortisol precursors in the serum during an adrenal corticotropic hormone challenge. Diagnosis of congenital adrenal hyerplasia in fetuses that are at risk for congenital adrenal hyperplasia can be determined using human leukocyte antigen haplotype or by demonstration of excess cortisol precursors in amniotic fluid. Treatment includes carefully monitored hormone replacement therapy. Recognition of the problem and timely replacement therapy can reduce morbidity and enhance quality of life in patients that are affected by congenital adrenal hyperplasia. (+info)
Primary nocturnal enuresis: current.
Primary nocturnal enuresis sometimes presents significant psychosocial problems for children and their parents. Causative factors may include maturational delay, genetic influence, difficulties in waking and decreased nighttime secretion of antidiuretic hormone. Anatomic abnormalities are usually not found, and psychologic causes are unlikely. Evaluation of enuresis usually requires no more than a complete history, a focused physical examination, and urine specific gravity and dipstick tests. Nonpharmacologic treatments include motivational therapy, behavioral conditioning and bladder-training exercises. Pharmacologic therapy includes imipramine, anticholinergic medication and desmopressin. These drugs have been used with varying degrees of success. (+info)