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עמוד בית
Mon, 26.02.24

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February 2024
Yoad M. Dvir, Arnon Blum MD MSc

In this special issue of Israel Medical Association Journal (IMAJ) we expose readers to the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine. AI has become a powerful tool, which enables healthcare professionals to personalize treatment based on many factors, including genetic analyses of tumors, and to consider other co-morbidities affecting a specific patient. AI gives physicians the ability to analyze huge amounts of data and to combine data from different sources. AI can be implemented make a diagnosis based on computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans using deep machine learning and data that are stored in the memory of mega computers. AI assists in tailoring more precise surgery to train surgeons before surgery and to support surgeons during procedures. This advancement may benefit surgical procedures by making them more accurate and faster without cutting unnecessary tissues (e.g., nerves and blood vessels); thus, patients face fewer complications, lower rates of infection, and more operation theater time. In this issue, we include three original studies that describe the use of AI in academia and eight review articles that discuss applications of AI in different specialties in medicine. One of the review articles addresses ethical issues and concerns that are raised due to the more advanced use of AI in medicine.

September 2023
Arnon Blum MD MSc

I read with great interest the important paper describing silicone breast illness as a classic example of autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvant (ASIA) [1]. I would like to add from our experience another side effect of breast implant: silicone granulomatous lymphadenopathy [2].

April 2023
Tal Yahalomi MD, Joseph Pikkel MD, Roee Arnon MD, Daniel Malchi MD, Aviv Vidan MD, Michael Kinori MD

Background: In developed countries, amblyopia has an estimated prevalence rate of 1–4%, depending on the socioeconomic gradient. Previous studies performed on pediatric populations in Ethiopia demonstrated amblyopia rates up to 16.7.

Objectives: To assess rates of amblyopia, refractive errors, strabismus, and other eye pathologies among Ethiopian-born children and adolescents who immigrated to Israel compared to Israeli-born children.

Methods This observational cross-sectional study included children and adolescents 5–19 years of age who immigrated to Israel up to 2 years before data collection and lived in an immigration center. Demographic data and general health status of the children were obtained from the parents, and a comprehensive ophthalmologic examination was performed. Results were compared to Israeli-born children.

Results: The study included 223 children and adolescents: 87 Ethiopian-born and 136 Israeli-born. The rate of amblyopia in the Ethiopian-born group vs. Israeli-born was 3.4% and 4.4%, respectively. Even after controlling for age, there was still no significant difference between the two groups (P > 0.99).

Conclusions: Despite originating from a country with limited resources and fewer medical facilities, the amblyopia rate in Jewish Ethiopian immigrants was not higher, and even mildly lower, compared to Israeli-born children.

Sorin Daniel Iordache MD, Tal Frenkel Rutenberg MD, Yaakov Pizem B PT, Arnon Ravid B PT, Ori Firsteter B PT

Background: Physiotherapy can help treat of trigger fingers (TF).

Objectives: To compare efficacy of fascial manipulation (FM) and traditional physiotherapy (TP) techniques in treatment of TF.

Methods: Nineteen patients were randomized in the FM group and 15 in the TP group. All patients underwent eight physiotherapy sessions. The Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH) and visual analogue scale (VAS) scores, staging of stenosing tenosynovitis (SST) classification, triggering frequency, grip and pinch strength were recorded before and after treatment. We surveyed participants at 6 months for recurrence, further treatment, and the VAS and QuickDASH scores. The primary outcome measure was reduction in QuickDASH and VAS scores.

Results: Both FM and TF improved the QuickDASH and VAS scores at 6 months follow-up, without a significant difference. The QuickDASH score in the FM group improved from 28.4 ± 17.1 to 12.7 ± 16.3; TF scores improved from 27 ± 16.7 to 18.8 ± 29.4 (P = 0.001). The VAS score improved from 5.7 ± 2.1 to 1.2 ± 2.1 and from 4.8 ± 1.8 to 2 ± 2.6 for both groups, respectively (P < 0.001). SST and grip strength also improved following treatment, regardless of modality. At 6 months, four patients (22%) with an SST score of 1, three (30%) with a score of 2, and two (40%) with a score of 3A underwent additional treatment.

Conclusions: Both FM and TP techniques are effective for the treatment of TF and should be considered for patients who present with SST scores of 1 or 2.

February 2023
Nizar Horrany MD, Wadie Abu Dahoud MD, Yara Moallem MD, Taleb Hajouj MD, Merna Zreik MD, Arnon Blum MD

Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Metformin is an old, relatively safe, first line therapy for T2DM; however, it has been associated with stroke.

Objectives: To study the effects of metformin use and vitamin B12 deficiency on stroke rate among patients with T2DM.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study of patients admitted with ischemic stroke within 12 months (starting March 2020). We studied the clinical impact of metformin on vitamin B12 deficiency and stroke evolution. Student's t-test and ANOVA were used to compare the groups of patients and to determine whether there was any direct or indirect effect of metformin use on vitamin B12 deficiency and stroke.

Results: In total, 80 patients were admitted with ischemic stroke. Clinical status and biochemical data were collected and compared with healthy volunteers. There were 39 diabetic patients, 16 took metformin for at least 1 year. Among those who took metformin for at least 1 year, 9 had vitamin B12 level < 240 pg/ml (56.2%); 23 diabetic patients did not get metformin and only 4 had vitamin B12 level < 240 pg/ml (17.4%) (P = 0.014).

Conclusions: T2DM is a significant risk factor to the development of ischemic stroke. We found an association between metformin use and vitamin B12 deficiency and an association between vitamin B12 deficiency and stroke risk in patients with T2DM. Diabetic patients who are taking metformin should monitor their vitamin B12 level.

December 2022
Ze'ev Itsekson Hayosh MD, Eiman Abu Bandora MD, Natalia Shelestovich MD, Maya Nulman MD, Mati Bakon MD, Gal Yaniv MD, Boris Khaitovitch MD, Shmuel Balan MD, Alexandra Gerasimova MD, Tali Drori MD, Stefan Mausbach MD, Yvonne Schwammenthal MD, Arnon Afek MD, Joab Chapman MD, Efrat Shavit Stein MD, David Orion MD

Endovascularly retrieved clots may be a potential resource for diagnosing stroke etiology. This method may influence secondary prevention treatment. We measure thrombin activity eluted by serially washing clots. We concluded that an assay measuring the change in thrombin in clots retrieved during acute stroke endovascular thrombectomy procedures may serve as a diagnostic marker of the origin of the clot. The suggested mechanism for these differences may be the clot location before its retrieval, with high blood flow causing thrombin washout in atherosclerotic clots, in contrast to atrium appendage low blood flow retaining high thrombin levels.

November 2022
Bar Pitaro Alter MD, Shmuel Tiosano MD, Yuval Kuntzman MD, Omer Gendelman MD, Guy Shalom MD, Abdulla Watad MD, Howard Amital MD MHA, Arnon D. Cohen MD MPH, Daniela Amital MD MHA

Backgrounds: Behçet's disease (BD) is a chronic vasculitic multi-systemic disease of unknown etiology. BD is characterized by recurrent attacks of oral aphthae, genital ulcers, and uveitis. BD is a multisystemic disorder and as such it may provoke various psychiatric manifestations, including depression.

Objectives: To evaluate the association between BD and depression, adjusting for established risk factors for depression.

Methods: We executed a cross-sectional study based on the Clalit Health Services database, the largest healthcare organization in Israel, serving over 4.4 million members. For this study 873 BD patients were detected and matched with 4369 controls by age and sex.

Results: The rate of depression was higher among the BD patients compared with the control group (9.39% vs 5.49%, respectively, odds ratio [OR] 1.79, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 1.37–2.31, P < 0.001). An association between BD and depression was also observed on multivariable analysis (OR 1.83, 95%CI 1.39–2.39, P < 0.001). When stratifying the data, according to established risk factors, the association between BD and depression was prominent in the youngest age group (18–39 years of age), low and high socioeconomical status, and non-smokers.

Conclusions: Establishing the association between BD and depression should influence the attitude and the treatment of BD patients, as this relationship requires a more holistic approach and a multidisciplinary treatment regimen for all patient needs.

Adi Lichtenstein MD, Shmuel Tiosano MD, Doron Comaneshter MD, Arnon D. Cohen MD, Howard Amital MD

Background: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness with associated neuropsychological symptoms such as fatigue, unrefreshing sleep, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, and depression. Osteoporosis is defined as a reduction of bone density. Previous studies to determine an association of FMS with osteoporosis showed mixed results, partially due to small sample sizes and lack of statistical power.

Objectives: To evaluate the association of FMS with osteoporosis.

Methods: We conducted a case-control study utilizing the database from Israel’s largest health maintenance organization. FMS patients were compared to age- and sex-matched controls. Data were analyzed using chi-square and t-tests. Multivariable logistic regression models assessed the association between osteoporosis and FMS. Spearman’s rho test was used for correlation.

Results: We utilized data from 14,296 FMS patients and 71,324 age- and sex-matched controls. Spearman's rho test showed a significant correlation between FMS and osteoporosis (correlation coefficient 0.55, P < 0.001). A logistic regression for osteoporosis showed an odds ratio [OR] of 1.94 (95% confidence interval [95%CI] 1.83–2.06, P < 0.001) for FMS compared to controls and found higher body mass index to be slight protective (OR 0.926, 95%CI 0.92–0.93, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: There is a significant correlation between FMS and osteoporosis. Early detection of predisposing factors for osteoporosis in FMS patients and implementation of suitable treatments and prevention measures (such as dietary supplements, resistance or weight bearing exercise, and bone-mineral enhancing pharmacological therapy) may reduce both occurrence rate and severity of osteoporosis and its complications, such as fractures.

July 2022
Orna Tal MD MHA, Yaron Connelly MA, Tami Karni MD, Arnona Ziv MBA, Giora Kaplan PhD, and Baruch Velan PhD
February 2021
Nagham Gudban MSc, Itamar Yehuda PhD, William Nasir MD, Soboh Soboh MD, Snait Tamir PhD, and Arnon Blum MD

Background: Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have a high rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The Mediterranean diet is preferred for CVD prevention. Endothelial dysfunction is demonstrated early in T2DM.

Objectives: To study the effects of dietary intervention of T2DM patients without known CVD on endothelial function and vascular inflammation.

Methods: A prospective study enrolled 22 patients with T2DM. Patients were divided randomly into two groups: an intervention group with 12 patients (55 ± 7 years old, 6 women) and a control group with 10 patients (59 ± 10 years old, 5 women). Clinical evaluation included body mass index (BMI) and endothelial function measured by the flow mediated percent change (FMD%). Fasting blood was drawn on entry to the study and 3 months later, measuring C-reactive protein (CRP), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), total cholesterol, triglycerides, and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C%). The intervention was based on weekly telephone calls by a clinical dietitian for 3 months.

Results: In the intervention group CRP and ICAM-1 were reduced (from 4.2 ± 3.3 mg/dl to 0.4 ± 0.5 mg/dl, P = 0.01 and from 258.6 ± 98.3 ng/ml to 171.6 ± 47.7 ng/ml, P = 0.004). Endothelial function (FMD%) was improved (from 0.5 ± 8.0% to 9.5 ± 11.5%, P = 0.014). No change was observed in BMI, HbA1C%, total cholesterol, and triglycerides levels in either group.

Conclusions: Patients with T2DM on the Mediterranean diet who received a weekly telephone call for 3 months improved their endothelial function with reduction of markers of inflammation.

October 2020
Naama Garmi MD, Suheil Nasrallah MD, Yacov Baram MD, Adina Katz BSc, Avishai Koren, Maya First MSc and Arnon Blum MD

Background: An association was shown between thrombocytosis and future development of several cancers.

Objectives: To investigate whether pre-treatment platelet counts correlated with clinical outcomes of patients with breast cancer.

Methods: This retrospective study included 22 patients who had been diagnosed with stage I breast cancer and were 66.8 ± 13.2 years of age. Of these, 22 with stage II were 61.6 ± 12.3 years old and 9 with stage III and IV were 64.4 ± 15.3 years old. Clinical and hematological data from the first visit to the oncology clinic were collected. The follow-up period was 12 months to 5 years.

Results: A significant difference in platelet counts was found between patients who died (187,000 ± 4000 µ/L) and those who were disease free for 5 years (248,000 ± 83,000 µ/L, P = 0.0001). A significant difference in platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio was found between patients who died and those with recurrence (192 ± 81 vs. 124 ± 71, P = 0.01). A negative correlation was found between age and lymph nodes (Ps = -0.305, P = 0.02) and staging and white blood cells count (Ps = -0.280, P = 0.04). A positive correlation was found between clinical staging and lymph nodes (Ps = 0.443, P = 0.001) and clinical staging and metastases (P = 0.308, P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Platelet counts may be a prognostic marker for breast cancer. Patients who died within 1 year had lower pre-treatment platelet count, which could represent an insidious disseminated intravascular coagulopathy cancer related consumption process.

August 2020
Yuval Levy MD MHA, Yael Frenkel Nir MD, Avinoah Ironi MD, Hindy Englard RN MSc, Gili Regev-Yochay MD, Galia Rahav MD, Arnon Afek MD and Ehud Grossman MD

Background: Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, is a tertiary hospital located in the center of Israel. It is the largest hospital in Israel and was the first to face coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients in the country at the beginning of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.

Objectives: To describe our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on our triage method in the emergency department (ED). Our goal was to keep the main hospitalization buildings clean of infection by separating COVID-19 positive patients from COVID-19 negative patients.

Methods: We divided our ED into two separate sections: a regular non-COVID-19 ED and an advanced biological ED. We created clear protocols of triage for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients. We reviewed the data of patients admitted to our ED during the month of March and analyzed the results of our triage method in separating COVID-19 positive from negative patients.

Results: During the month of March 2020, 7957 patients were referred to our ED. Among them 2004 were referred to the biological ED and 5953 were referred to the regular ED. Of the 2004 patients referred to the biological ED, 1641 (81.8%) were sampled for SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction of whom 143 (8.7%) were positive. Only two COVID-19 positive patients unintentionally entered the main clean hospital, making our triage almost full proof.

Conclusions: Our triage method was successful in separating COVID-19 positive from negative patients and maintained the regular hospital clean of COVID-19 allowing treatment continuation of regular non-COVID-19 patients.

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