Here are noteworthy healthcare issues that have appeared in the news and medical journals throughout the last 30 days or so:
Issac Itzkoff, of the New York Times, reported that comedian Robin Williams was battling Lewy body dementia at the time of his suicide. Lewy body dementia causes an Alzheimer’s-like slippage in memory and thinking as well as stiffness and movement problems such as the kind seen in Parkinson’s disease. It can also cause hallucinations which often involve seeing animals, children or miniature people. The condition results in steady decline, an average of 10% or more a year and there is no cure.
A study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry demonstrated that schizophrenia may be caused by inflammation in the brain which can be discovered through PET scans which measure the levels of activity of immune cells in the brain. The authors suggest that the next step is to determine whether anti-inflammatory treatment in patients who are predisposed to the disease can prevent the disorder.
An article published in Science discussed the development of artificial skin that acts as a mechanoreceptor in conjunction with an organic transistor circuit that can simulate the sensation of touch. The hope is that this technology will aid in the design of large area organic electronic skin with neural integrated touch feedback for replacement limbs.
An article appearing in JAMA discussed a new drug, marketed under the name Nuedexta, containing dextromethorphan hydrobromide and quinidine sulfate, which has been proven effective in quelling agitation and aggression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that injuries from airsoft and paintball guns can sometimes be severe. 83% of the injuries were related to the eye and 10% of children injured by these kinds of devices sustained injuries that resulted in lasting functional deficits.
The American Heart Association recommended the same hand positioning that is normally used for chest compressions in pregnant women during resuscitation after cardiac arrest. Previous guidelines suggested a more cephalad hand position in pregnancy to adjust for elevation of the diaphragm by the gravid uterus.
An article published in JAMA demonstrated that pediatric trauma patients treated at pediatric trauma centers have a much lower mortality rate than pediatric trauma patients treated in other hospitals. Children treated in adult or mixed trauma centers had an estimated 57 and 45 percent increased risk of dying.
The American Cancer Society has developed new revised recommendations for breast cancer screening. The ACS now recommends that screening begin at age 45, that women aged 45 to 54 years be screened annually and that women age 55 years and older be screened biennially if they have a life expectancy of at least 10 years. The guidelines indicate that a clinical breast examination is not necessary.
An article published in the Lancet showed that chlorhexidine-alcohol prior to intravascular catheter insertion provides greater protection against short-term catheter-related infection than povidone iodine-alcohol.
An article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that there was no difference in outcome when open fracture wounds were irrigated with high, or low pressure. The authors recommended the use of low pressure irrigation because it was less likely to cause additional tissue injury.
A study appearing in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that children treated with stimulants did not have an increased risk of onset or worsening of tics with the use of psychostimulant treatment.