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September 2022
Avi Benov MD MHA, Shaul Gelikas MD MBA, Noam Fink MD, and Elon Glassberg MD MHA MBA

War is as old as history. Some may say it is older. The first Biblical war, dated 1880–1875 BCE, is depicted in the book of Genesis between nine kings in the vicinity of the Jordan river near Jericho. By the end of the war, Abraham (Abram) gets involved in saving his nephew Lot.

In addition to war, military medicine also has its roots in historical times. Hippocrates (460–377 BCE), the father of medicine, derived his medical knowledge from the battlefield, and Sushruta [1], the father of plastic surgery, mentioned the physician's preventive role in noting environmental hazards: "A common practice of the enemy is to poison the wells on the roadside, the articles of food, the shades of trees, and the fuel and forage for cattle; hence, it is incumbent on a physician marching with the troops to inspect, examine, and purify these before using any of them, in case they are poisoned."

The Greeks stated new ideas of military health, pointing to fitness promotion, gymnastics, and healthy diets to prevent illness. Over the centuries, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon’s army and wars in the 20th century, military conflicts have led to the death of hundreds of millions of people from trauma and war-related disease. Amazingly analyses of the 18th and 19th centuries have shown that 80% of the soldiers died from disease, and historians and military personnel agree that during armed conflicts in known history, only a minority of soldiers perished by the sword.

In Israel, the Israel Defense Forces-Medical Corps (IDF-MC) holds a unique position embedded in military and civilian national medicine. All medical personnel (e.g., physicians, nurses, technicians, veterinarians) who work in the IDF-MC receive their diplomas from civilian universities, train in civilian hospitals, and continue to practice in the national health system. The majority of these professionals continue to work in different civilian medical platforms in Israel after finishing their mandatory service. The IDF-MC's primary mission is to provide optimal medical care to IDF soldiers at all times (including wartime), to prevent disease and promote health, advance military medicine, and aid the civilian sector as ordered by the Government of Israel.

In this special issue of Israel Medical Association Journal (IMAJ) is to expose readers to the continuous efforts of the IDF-MC to fulfill its mission by promoting research in multiple medical fields, including trauma, ambulatory care, health administration. In addition, in this issue of IMAJ, authors discuss the unique collaboration with the civilian system during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Trauma and trauma-related injuries are the main focus of military medical research. Ben-Avi and colleagues [2] described outcomes of emergent exploratory thoracotomies on military casualties and addresses parameters that may impact the survival of these casualties. Minervini [3] further discussed the issue. Bez et al. [4] researched the impact of isolated versus non-isolated traumatic brain injuries on injury identification and decision-making by care providers in austere scenarios. Tsur and co-authors [5] described the characteristics of a unique type of terror attack: vehicle ramming.

Additional examples of treatments provided in the military prehospital arena were analyzed by Nakar and colleagues [6] who discussed how to assess pain medications administered to trauma casualties in the past two decades by IDF-MC care providers. Rittblat et al. [7] further described the use of freeze-dried plasma, a blood component used in the prehospital arena and administered via intraosseous vascular access.

The IDF-MC is a continuously changing organization emphasizing the adoption of advanced technologies and devices. Chen et al. [8] presented a blinded study on the use of point-of-care ultrasound and remote telementored ultrasound by inexperienced operators, and Sorkin et al. [9] described the BladeShield 101: a novel device for the battlefield designed to continuously measure vital signs and medical treatment provided and to transfer data through roles of care.

In this special issue of IMAJ, authors also discusse gender-related aspects at the core of medical treatment. Segal et al. [10] examined whether missed injuries were related to the medical provider's gender, while Gelikas et al. [11] assessed whether treatment with analgesia was associated with casualty gender in the military prehospital trauma setting

Over the past two and a half years, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant part of our lives. During these years, medical systems and teams throughout Israel and around the world struggled to adapt to this new disease and save lives fighting the pandemic. Geva et al. [12] and Shental et al. [13] discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the IDF medical system, lessons learned during the outbreak, and effects of different diseases during these times on medical treatment provided by the IDF to soldiers.

Yotam Kolben MD, Henny Azmanov MD, Yuval Ishay MD, Efrat Orenbuch-Harroch MD, and Yael Milgrom MD.
David Segal MD MPH, Nitzan Shakarchy-Kaminsky MD MSc, Yair Zloof MD, Tomer Talmy MD, Galina Shapiro MD PHD, Irina Radomislensky BSc, Avishai M. Tsur MD MHA, Shaul Gelikas MD MBA, Erez Karp MD MHA, and Avi Benov MD MHA; Israel Trauma Group

Background: Medical organizations worldwide aim for equity and diversity in the medical profession to improve care quality. Data on whether the caregiver gender affects outcomes in the prehospital setting are essential but scarce compared to available in-hospital studies.

Objective: To analyze the rates of missed injuries in the prehospital setting and determine whether these rates were associated with the gender of the on-field physician or paramedic.

Methods: A retrospective record review was conducted, which included trauma records documented in two trauma registries, the prehospital Israel Defense Forces-Trauma Registry (IDF-TR), and the in-hospital Israeli National Trauma Registry (INTR). Missed injuries were defined as injuries documented in the INTR but not in the IDF-TR. A multivariable regression analysis was performed to assess the association between provider’s gender and missed injuries.

Results: Of 490 casualties, 369 (75.3%) were treated by teams that included only male paramedics or physicians. In 386 (78.8%) cases, a physician was a part of the prehospital team. In all, 94 (19.2%) casualties sustained injuries that were missed by the prehospital medical team. Missed injuries were not associated with the gender of the paramedic or physician (odds ratio 1.242, 95% confidence interval 0.69–2.193).

Conclusions: No association was found between the gender of the medical provider in the prehospital setting and the rate of missed injuries. These results should encourage prehospital emergency medical systems to aim for a balanced and diverse caregiver population.

The Rubrum Coelis Group*, and Jacob Chen MD MHA MSc, Alex Dobron BMedSc MOccH, Akiva Esterson BEMS MD, Lior Fuchs MD, Elon Glassberg MD MHA MBA, David Hoppenstein MBBCh, Regina Kalandarev-Wilson BEMS MD, Itamar Netzer MD MBA, Mor Nissan BEMS, Rachelly Shifer Ovsiovich DMD, Raphael Strugo MD, Oren Wacht BEMS MHA PhD, Chad G. Ball MD MSc FRCSC FACS, Naisan Garraway CD MD FRCSC FACS, Lawrence Gillman MD MMedEd FRCSC FACS, Andrew W. Kirkpatrick MD CD MHSc FRCSC FACS, Volker Kock CD MB, Paul McBeth MD MASc FRCS(C), Jessica McKee BA MSc, Juan Wachs PhD, and Scott K. d’Amours MDCM FRCSC FRACS FACS

Background: Handheld ultrasound devices present an opportunity for prehospital sonographic assessment of trauma, even in the hands of novice operators commonly found in military, maritime, or other austere environments. However, the reliability of such point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) examinations by novices is rightly questioned. A common strategy being examined to mitigate this reliability gap is remote mentoring by an expert.

Objectives: To assess the feasibility of utilizing POCUS in the hands of novice military or civilian emergency medicine service (EMS) providers, with and without the use of telementoring. To assess the mitigating or exacerbating effect telementoring may have on operator stress.

Methods: Thirty-seven inexperienced physicians and EMTs serving as first responders in military or civilian EMS were randomized to receive or not receive telementoring during three POCUS trials: live model, Simbionix trainer, and jugular phantom. Salivary cortisol was obtained before and after the trial. Heart rate variability monitoring was performed throughout the trial.

Results: There were no significant differences in clinical performance between the two groups. Iatrogenic complications of jugular venous catheterization were reduced by 26% in the telementored group (P < 0.001). Salivary cortisol levels dropped by 39% (P < 0.001) in the telementored group. Heart rate variability data also suggested mitigation of stress.

Conclusions: Telementoring of POCUS tasks was not found to improve performance by novices, but findings suggest that it may mitigate caregiver stress.

August 2022
Nir Tsur MD, Omri Frig BSc, Orna Steinberg-Shemer MD, Hannah Tamary MD, Noga Kurman MD, Aviram Mizrachi MD, and Aron Popovtzer MD

Background: Recent studies show a high risk of developing malignancy in patients with Fanconi anemia. The most common solid tumor in this condition is head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and there is often uncertainty and about disease behavior as well as chemotherapy and radiation response.

Objectives: To describe and characterize HNSCC among Fanconi anemia patients on the Israeli Fanconi Registry

Methods: Our study population included patients in Israel's inherited bone marrow failure registry who were diagnosed with Fanconi anemia between1980 and 2016. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data were collected from patient charts.

Results: From the collected data, HNSCC was confirmed in 6/111 (5.4%) Fanconi anemia patients; 1 (17%) had classic HNSCC risk factors of tobacco abuse and 4 (56%) had undergone primary surgery. The 3 (50%) receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy had mild side effects, while half developed metachronous primary malignancy, and all developed > 2 primary malignancies. The overall median survival of the patients in our study was 14 (0.5–57) months.

Conclusions: Fanconi anemia patients have a very high risk of developing HNSCC. Proactive screening for malignancies is needed for the head and neck regions. We also found that chemoradiotherapy can be used safely in high-stage cancers.

July 2022
João Gouveia MD, Carolina Barros MD, Mónica Caldeira MD, Caldeira Ferreira MD, and Rafael Freitas MD
June 2022
Yair Bezalel Shahar BPT, Ruth Goldstein MD, Yaniv Nudelman MSc PT, Omri Besor MD MPH, and Noa Ben Ami PT PhD1

Background: Low back pain has been the leading cause for disability worldwide for several decades, and clinical guidelines for its management clearly emphasize a multifactorial approach. Yet, current guidelines are still not well implemented by clinicians.

Objectives: To explore the attitudes of family medicine residents regarding low back pain and to determine whether they positively correlate with their treatment approaches. To test if these attitudes can be affected by the Enhanced Transtheoretical Model Intervention (ETMI), a guideline-based workshop.

Methods: Participants completed an online questionnaire regarding their attitudes toward low back pain and clinical habits, after which they attended an online ETMI educational workshop. One month later all participants were asked to complete the questionnaire a second time. Statistical analysis was conducted to explore the attitudes of the residents and clinical approaches, as well as any associations between them, as well as possible differences pre- and post-intervention.

Results: The participants exhibited highly psychologically oriented attitudes. Correlations between the attitudes and treatment did not show consistent coherency. Results regarding the participants clinical approaches were revealed to have two distinct and opposed inclinations: biomedically and biopsychosocially. Last, results for the re-activation subscale were significantly higher post-intervention.

Conclusions: Family medicine residents seem to be highly psychologically oriented regarding low back pain; however, they do not necessarily treat their patients accordingly. Their clinical choices seem to follow two different approaches: guideline-consistent and non-guideline-consistent. An ETMI guideline-based workshop may sway their attitudes toward re-activation of patients. Further research is needed to determine whether similar results would arise in larger physician populations.

May 2022
Herman Avner Cohen MD, Maya Gerstein MD, Vered Shkalim Zemer MD, Sophia Heiman MD, Yael Richenberg MD, Eyal Jacobson MD, and Oren Berkowitz PhD PA-C

Background: On 18 March 2020, the Israeli Health Ministry issued lockdown orders to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Objectives: To assess the association of lockdown orders on telemedicine practice and the effect of social distancing on infectious diseases in a primary care community pediatric clinic as well as the rate of referrals to emergency departments (ED) and trends of hospitalization.

Methods: Investigators performed a retrospective secondary data analysis that screened for visits in a large pediatric center from 1 January to 31 May 2020. Total visits were compared from January to December 2020 during the same period in 2019. Visits were coded during the first lockdown as being via telemedicine or in-person, and whether they resulted in ED referral or hospitalization. Month-to-month comparisons were performed as well as percent change from the previous year.

Results: There was a sharp decline of in-person visits (24%) and an increase in telemedicine consultations (76%) during the first lockdown (p < 0.001). When the lockdown restrictions were eased, there was a rebound of 50% in-person visits (p < 0.05). There was a profound decrease of visits for common infectious diseases during the lockdown period. Substantial decreases were noted for overall visits, ED referrals, and hospitalizations in 2020 compared to 2019.

Conclusions: COVID-19 had a major impact on primary care clinics, resulting in fewer patient-doctor encounters, fewer overall visits, fewer ED referrals, and fewer hospitalizations

Issac Levy MD, Dolev Dollberg MD, Ron Berant MD, and Ronit Friling MD

Background: Data on how the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affected consultations in ophthalmic departments are sparse.

Objectives: To examine the epidemiology of ophthalmic consultations in a large pediatric emergency medicine department (PED) during the first nationwide COVID-19 lockdown in Israel.

Methods: The database of a tertiary pediatric medical center was retrospectively reviewed for patients aged < 18 years who attended the PED from 17 March to 30 April 2020 (first COVID-19 lockdown) and the corresponding period in 2019. Background, clinical, and disease-related data were collected from the medical charts and compared between groups.

Results: The study included 757 PED visits. There were no significant differences in demographics between the groups. The 2020 period was characterized by a decrease in PED visits (by 52%), increase in arrivals during late afternoon and evening (P = 0.013), decrease in visits of older children (age 5–10 year), and proportional increase in younger children (age 1–5 years) (P = 0.011). The most common diagnoses overall and during each period was trauma followed by conjunctivitis and eyelid inflammation. The mechanisms of trauma differed (P = 0.002), with an increase in sharp trauma and decrease in blunt trauma in 2020 (P < 0.001 for both). In 2020, 95% of traumatic events occurred in the home compared to 54% in 2019 (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Parents need to learn appropriate preventive and treatment measures to prevent serious and long-term ophthalmic injury while minimizing their exposure to the COVID-19. PEDs and ophthalmic pediatric clinics should consider increasing use of telemedicine and the availability of more senior physicians as consultants during such times.

Nomy Levin-Iaina MD, Avital Angel-Korman MD, Adi Leiba MD MHA, Esther Peres MD, Gabriel Bryk PhD, Vladimir Rapoport MD, Zeev Katzir MD, Yoram Yagil MD, and Tal Brosh-Nissimov MD MHA

Background: The reduced immune response of maintenance hemodialysis patients to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines is a major concern.

Objectives: To analyze the late (6 months after full vaccination) antibody response and compare it to early post-vaccination titer.

Methods: We conducted a multicenter prospective study of 13 hemodialysis units in Israel.

Results: We demonstrated that the low titers observed among ESRD patients 2–3 months after vaccination with the Comirnaty vaccine (median 63.8 AU/ml) declined to critically lower values 6 months after full vaccination. (Mediananti S antibodies, 31 AU/ml). Seropositivity significantly declined among hemodialysis patients from 89% to 74% (P < 0.0001), although it did not significantly change among controls.

Conclusions: We recommend all patients on hemodialysis receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine 6 months after the second dose.


April 2022
George M. Weisz MD FRACS BA MA, and Richard W. Haber MB BS (Hons) FRACP

Medical records discovered after the liberation of ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe are unique documents that report on the suffering of inmates, on ravaging infectious diseases, and on starvation-related organ degeneration and the resulting mortality. We offer a pathogenetic explanation for the scarcity of acute myocardial infarction in the Lodz Ghetto, Poland, 1941–1944

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