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עמוד בית
Mon, 15.04.24

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June 2007
S. Flechter, J. Vardi, Y. Finkelstein, L. Pollak

Background: The cognitive impairment (frontal, parietal) in many patients with multiple sclerosis does not correlate with the degree of neurological disability and disease duration. Frontal/prefrontal cognitive impairment requires neuropsychological diagnostic tools.

Objectives: To evaluate the clinical effect of IFNβ-1b[1] (Betaferon®) treatment on cognitive function and event-related potential as compared to the clinical course (EDSS[2]) in MS patients during 1 year of follow-up.

Methods: This prospective open-label design study included 16 consecutive patients with relapsing forms of MS attending the MS outpatient clinic. Mean EDSS score was calculated prior to starting treatment. Parietal lobe event-related potential P300 was elicited using an auditory physical stimulus to an alert subject. Mean P300 amplitude and latency were calculated for the group before treatment. The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, which measures frontal lobe functions, was performed before the treatment. After 1 year of treatment a second P300 and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test were performed and the mean change between visit 1 and baseline was calculated for each parameter. Correlation between the change in P300 and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test score at baseline was measured using the paired t-test.

Results: There was a significant reduction in P300 amplitude and latency after 1 year of treatment with IFNβ-1b: from 20.3 ± 8.3 μv to 13.1 ± 10.6 μv (P = 0.026) for amplitude, and from 312.9 ± 15.6 msec to 302.0 ± 17.0 msec (P = 0.002) for latency. The Perseverative Response (raw score) and the Perseverative Response U.S. Census age-matched standard score showed a significant improvement – from 20.7 ± 30.7 to 13.1 ± 10.6 (P = 0.001) and 96.7 ± 15.7 to 100.1 ± 11.1 (P = 0.0025) respectively – after 1 year of treatment. A mild but not significant improvement was observed on the EDSS after 1 year of treatment: 2.9 ± 0.5 to 2.8 ± 1.1.

Conclusions: A cognitive decline in MS patients may have a negative impact on the quality of life, affecting all active daily living domains. IFNβ-1b, a disease-modifying therapy, has demonstrated a positive therapeutic effect on cognitive dysfunction, unrelated to its effect on the EDSS score and course of the disease.






[1] IFNβ = interferon beta

[2] EDSS = Expanded Disability Status Scale


January 2007
Z. Kaufman, W-K. Wong, T. Peled-Leviatan, E. Cohen, C. Lavy, G. Aharonowitz, R. Dichtiar, M. Bromberg, O. Havkin, E. Kokia and M.S. Green

Background: Syndromic surveillance systems have been developed for early detection of bioterrorist attacks, but few validation studies exist for these systems and their efficacy has been questioned.

Objectives: To assess the capabilities of a syndromic surveillance system based on community clinics in conjunction with the WSARE[1] algorithm in identifying early signals of a localized unusual influenza outbreak.

Methods: This retrospective study used data on a documented influenza B outbreak in an elementary school in central Israel. The WSARE algorithm for anomalous pattern detection was applied to individual records of daily patient visits to clinics of one of the four health management organizations in the country.

Results: Two successive significant anomalies were detected in the HMO’s[2] data set that could signal the influenza outbreak. If data were available for analysis in real time, the first anomaly could be detected on day 3 of the outbreak, 1 day after the school principal reported the outbreak to the public health authorities.

Conclusions: Early detection is difficult in this type of fast-developing institutionalized outbreak. However, the information derived from WSARE could help define the outbreak in terms of time, place and the population at risk.






[1] WSARE = What’s Strange About Recent Events



[2] HMO = health management organization


December 2006
A. Nemets, I. Isakov, M. Huerta, Y. Barshai, S. Oren and G. Lugassy
 Background: Thrombosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in polycythemia vera. Hypercoagulability is principally due to hyperviscosity of the whole blood, an exponential function of the hematocrit. PV[1] is also associated with endothelial dysfunction that can predispose to arterial disease. Reduction of the red cell mass to a safe level by phlebotomy is the first principle of therapy in PV. This therapy may have some effect on the arterial compliance in PV patients.

Objectives: To estimate the influence of phlebotomies on large artery (C1) and small artery compliance (C2) in PV patients by using non-invasive methods.

Methods: Short-term hemodynamic effects of phlebotomy were studied by pulse wave analysis using the HDI-Pulse Wave CR2000 (Minneapolis, MN, USA) before and immediately after venesection (300–500 ml of blood). We repeated the evaluation after 1 month to measure the long-term effects.

Results: Seventeen PV patients were included in the study and 47 measurements of arterial compliance were performed: 37 for short-term effects and 10 for long-term effects. The mean large artery compliance (C1) before phlebotomy was 12.0 ml/mmHg x 10 (range 4.5–28.6), and 12.6 ml/mmHg x 10 (range 5.2–20.1) immediately after phlebotomy (NS). The mean small artery compliance (C2) before and immediately after phlebotomy were 4.4 mg/mmHg x 10 (range 1.2–14.3) and 5.5 mg/mmHg x 10 (range 1.2–15.6) respectively (delta C2–1.1, P < 0.001). No difference in these parameters could be demonstrated in the long-term arm.

Conclusions: Phlebotomy immediately improves arterial compliance in small vessels of PV patients, but this effect is short lived.


 





[1] PV = polycythemia vera


A. Kolomansky, R. Hoffman, G. Sarig, B. Brenner and N. Haim
 Background: Little is known about the epidemiology of venous thromboembolism in hospitalized patients in Israel. Also, a direct comparison of the clinical and laboratory features between cancer and non-cancer patients has not yet been reported.

Objectives: To investigate and compare the epidemiologic, clinical and laboratory characteristics of cancer and non-cancer patients hospitalized with venous thromboembolism in a large referral medical center in Israel.

Methods: Between February 2002 and February 2003, patients diagnosed at the Rambam Medical Center as suffering from VTE[1] (deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism), based on diagnostic findings on Doppler ultrasonography, spiral computed tomography scan or lung scan showing high probability for pulmonary embolism, were prospectively identified and evaluated. In addition, at the conclusion of the study period, the reports of spiral chest CT scans, performed during the aforementioned period in this hospital, were retrospectively reviewed to minimize the number of unidentified cases. Blood samples were drawn for evaluation of the coagulation profile.

Results: Altogether, 147 patients were identified and 153 VTE events diagnosed, accounting for 0.25% of all hospitalizations during the study period. The cancer group included 63 patients (43%), most of whom had advanced disease (63%). The most common malignancies were cancer of the lung (16%), breast (14%), colon (11%) and pancreas (10%). Of 121 venous thromboembolic events (with or without pulmonary embolism) there were 14 upper extremity thromboses (12%). The most common risk factors for VTE, except malignancy, were immobilization (33%), surgery/trauma (20%) and congestive heart failure (17%). There was no difference in prevalence of various risk factors between cancer and non-cancer patients. During an acute VTE event, D-dimer levels were higher in cancer patients than non-cancer patients (4.04 ± 4.27 vs. 2.58 ± 1.83 mg/L respectively, P = 0.0550). Relatively low values of activated protein C sensitivity ratio and normalized protein C activation time were observed in both cancer and non-cancer groups (2.05 ± 0.23 vs. 2.01 ± 0.33 and 0.75 ± 0.17vs. 0.71 ± 0.22, respectively). These values did not differ significantly between the groups.

Conclusion: The proportion of cancer patients among patients suffering from VTE was high. Their demographic, clinical and laboratory characteristics (during an acute event) were not different from those of non-cancer patients, except for higher D-dimer levels.


 





[1] VTE = venous thromboembolism


February 2006
Z. Fireman, R. Zachlka, S. Abu Mouch and Y. Kopelman

Background: Men and postmenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia are routinely evaluated to exclude a gastrointestinal source of suspected internal bleeding. Iron deficiency anemia in premenopausal women is often treated with simple iron replacement, under the assumption that the condition is due to excessive menstrual blood loss.

Objectives: To determine the yield of endoscopy evaluations in premenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia.

Methods: Upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopic examinations were conducted in 45 premenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia not related to gynecologic or nutritional causes.

Results: Forty-three of the 45 women fulfilled the entry criteria and were enrolled. Their mean age was 35 ± 15 years and their mean hemoglobin level 9.3 ± 2.3 g/dl. Twenty‑eight upper gastrointestinal lesions were demonstrated in 24 of the 43 patients (55.8%): erosive gastritis in 12 (27.9%), erosive duodenitis in 4 (9.3%), erosive esophagitis in 3 (7.0%), hiatus hernia (with Cameron lesions) in 3 (7.0%), active duodenal ulcer in 1 (2.3%) and hyperplastic polyp (10 mm) in 1 (2.3%). Five lower gastrointestinal lesions were detected in 5 patients (16.3%): 2 (4.6%) had adenocarcinoma of the right colon, 2 (4.6%) had pedunculate adenomatous polyp > 10 mm, and 1 (2.3%) had segmental colitis (Crohn's disease). One patient (2.3%) had pathologic findings in both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts.

Conclusions: Our findings of a gastrointestinal source of chronic blood loss in 28 of 43 premenopausal women with iron deficiency anemia (65.1%) suggest that this population will benefit from bi‑directional endoscopic evaluations of the gastrointestinal tract.

October 2005
E. Zimlichman, A. Lahad, A. Aron-Maor, A. Kanevsky and Y. Shoenfeld.
 Background: As complementary and alternative medicine is gaining popularity among health consumers, diagnostic screening tools based on neuroreflexology are also being developed. These techniques, which are based on the rationale that measurement of electrical impedance of specific dermatomes reflects corresponding internal organ pathologies, have not yet been the subject of conventional scientific research.

Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of a neuroreflexology-based screening test, specifically the Medex device (Medex Screen Ltd.), for diagnosing patients undergoing conventional internal organ assessment, in a hospital setting.

Methods: Patients admitted to an internal medicine department, who met the inclusion criteria and agreed to participate, underwent conventional medical evaluation that included past medical history and physical examination. Another examination was conducted by a second physician using the Medex device to determine internal organ pathologies. A third researcher compared the actual “conventional” diagnosis with the Medex device output using standard statistical analysis.   

Results: Overall, 150 patients participated in the study. Correlation was significant for all categories (P < 0.01) except for blood and lymphatic disease. A high sensitivity (>70%) was measured for cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal and genitourinary diseases. The highest measure of agreement, as represented by the Cohen-Kappa factor, was found for respiratory disease (0.57).

Conclusions: Although the exact mechanism is not entirely clear, measurement of electroskin impedance of dermal-visceral zones has the potential to serve as a screening tool for inner organ pathologies. Further research should be conducted to create more evidence to support or dispute the use of this technique as a reliable diagnostic tool.

July 2005
G. Blinder, J. Benhorin, D. Koukoui, Z. Roman and N. Hiller
 Background: Multi-detector spiral computed tomography with retrospective electrocardiography-gated image reconstruction allows detailed anatomic imaging of the heart, great vessels and coronary arteries in a rapid, available and non-invasive mode.

Objectives: To investigate the spectrum of findings in 32 consecutive patients with chest pain who underwent CT coronary angiogram in order to determine the clinical situations that will benefit most from this new technique.

Methods: Thirty-two patients with chest pain were studied by MDCT[1] using 4 x 1 mm cross-sections, at 500 msec rotation with pitch 1–1.5, intravenous non-ionic contrast agent and a retrospectively ECG-gated reconstruction algorithm. The heart anatomy was evaluated using multi-planar reconstructions in the axial, long and short heart axes planes. Coronary arteries were evaluated using dedicated coronary software and the results were compared to those of the conventional coronary angiograms in 12 patients. The patients were divided into four groups according to the indication for the study: group A – patients with high probability for coronary disease; group B – patients after CCA[2] with undetermined diagnosis; group C – patients after cardiac surgery with possible anatomic derangement; and group D – symptomatic patients after coronary artery bypass graft, before considering conventional coronary angiography.

Results: Artifacts caused by coronary motion, heavy calcification and a lumen diameter smaller than 2 mm were the most frequent reasons for non-evaluable arteries. Assessment was satisfactory in 83% of all coronary segments. The overall sensitivity of 50% stenosis was 74% (85% for main vessels) with a specificity of 96%. Overall, the CTCA[3] results were critical for management in 18 patients.

Conclusions: Our preliminary experience suggests that CTCA is a reliable and promising technique for the detection of coronary artery stenosis as well as for a variety of additional cardiac and coronary structural abnormalities.


 


[1] MDCT = multi-detector computed tomography

[2] CCA = conventional coronary angiography

[3] CTCA = CT coronary angiogram


June 2005
A. Kessler, H. Gavriel, S. Zahav, M. Vaiman, N. Shlamkovitch, S. Segal and E. Eviatar
 Background: Fine-needle aspiration biopsy has been well established as a diagnostic technique for selecting patients with thyroid nodules for surgical treatment, thereby reducing the number of unnecessary surgical procedures performed in cases of non-malignant tumors.

Objectives: To evaluate the sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and positive and negative predictive values of FNAB[1] in cases of a solitary thyroid nodule.

Methods: The preoperative FNAB results of 170 patients who underwent thyroidectomy due to a solitary thyroid nodule were compared retrospectively with the final postoperative pathologic diagnoses.

Results: In cases of a solitary thyroid nodule, FNAB had a sensitivity of 79%, specificity of 98.5%, accuracy of 87%, and positive and negative predictive values of 98.75% and 76.6% respectively. All cases of papillary carcinoma diagnosed by FNAB proved to be malignant on final histology, while 8 of 27 cases of follicular adenoma detected by preoperative FNAB were shown to be malignant on final evaluation of the surgical specimen.

Conclusions: FNAB cytology reduces the incidence of thyroidectomy since this method has excellent specificity and sensitivity and a low rate of false-negative results. It proved to be cost-effective and is recommended as the first tool in the diagnostic workup in patients with thyroid nodules.


 





[1] FNAB = fine-needle aspiration biopsy


May 2005
N. Bitterman and I. Shalev
 Background: In light of changes in the medical profession, the different requirements placed on physicians and the evolving needs of the healthcare system, the need arose to examine the medical education curriculum in Israel. This survey, conducted by the Samuel Neaman Institute for Science and Technology summarizes 20 years of medical education in Israel's four medical schools, as the first stage in mapping the existing state of medical education in Israel and providing a basis for decision-making on future medical education programs.

Objectives: To characterize the academic background of graduates, evaluate their attitudes towards current and alternative medical education programs, and examine subgroups among graduates according to gender, medical school, high school education, etc.

Methods: The survey included graduates from all four Israeli medical schools who graduated between the years 1981 and 2000 in a sample of 1:3. A questionnaire and stamped return envelope were sent to every third graduate; the questionnaire included open and quantitative questions graded on a scale of 1 to 5. The data were processed for the entire graduate population and further analyzed according to subgroups such as medical schools, gender, high school education, etc.

Results: The response rate was 41.3%. The survey provided a demographic profile of graduates over a 20 year period, their previous educational and academic background, additional academic degrees achieved, satisfaction, and suggestions for future medical education programs.

Conclusions: The profile of the medical graduates in Israel is mostly homogenous in terms of demographics, with small differences among the four medical schools. In line with recommendations of the graduates, and as an expression of the changing requirements in the healthcare system and the medical profession, the medical schools should consider alternative medical education programs such as a bachelor’s degree in life sciences followed by MD studies, or education programs that combine medicine with disciplines such as law, engineering, computer science, etc.

April 2005
J. Shemer, I. Abadi-Korek and A. Seifan
 New medical technologies that offer to improve upon or completely replace existing ones are continuously appearing. These technologies are forcing healthcare policymakers to consistently evaluate new treatment options. However, this emerging medical technology has been viewed as a significant factor in increasing the cost of healthcare. The abundance of new medical alternatives, combined with scarcity of resources, has led to priority setting, rationing, and the need for further technology management and assessment. Economic evaluation of medical technologies is a system of analysis within the framework of Health Technology Assessment to formally compare the costs and consequences of alternative healthcare interventions. EEMT[1] can be used by many healthcare entities, including national policymakers, manufacturers, payers and providers, as a tool to aid in resource allocation decisions. In this paper we discuss the historical evolution and potential of EEMT, the practical limitations hindering more extensive implementation of these types of studies, current efforts at improvement, and the ethical issues influencing ongoing development. The Medical Technologies Administration of Israel's Ministry of Health is given as an example of an entity that has succeeded in practically implementing EEMT to optimize healthcare resource allocation.

_______________

[1] EEMT = economic evaluation of medical technologies
March 2005
M. Ben-Haim, M. Carmiel, N. Lubezky, R. Keidar, P. Katz, A. Blachar, A. Nomrod, P. Sorkine, R. Oren, J.M. Klausner and R. Nakache
Background: Adult-to-adult living donor liver transplantation is becoming an alternative to cadaveric transplantation in urgent and elective settings. Donor selection crucially affects donor safety and recipient outcome.

Objective: To present our algorithm of urgent and elective donor selection.

Methods: Urgent selection is expeditious and protocol‑based. Elective selection permits a comprehensive process. Both include medical, psychosocial and surgical-anatomic evaluations. Liver volumes and vascular anatomy are evaluated with computerized tomographic angiography. Informed consent is obtained after painstaking explanations. Independent institutional committees review and approve all cases.

Results: Between July 2003 and June 2004 we evaluated 43 potential live donors for 12 potential recipients (fulminant hepatic failure, n=5; chronic end-stage liver disease, n=6); primary graft non-function, n=1). Thirty-three candidates (76%) were excluded due to blood type incompatibility (n=14, 42%), incompatible anatomy (n=8, 24%) – including problematic volume distribution (n=2) or vascular anatomy (n=6) – psychosocial issues (n=4, 12%), or medical co-morbidity (n=7, 22%). Five recipients (FHF[1], n=4; chronic ESLD[2], n=1) were successfully transplanted from living donors. In the acute setting, two patients (FHF, PGNF[3]) died in the absence of an appropriate donor (cadaveric or living donor). In the elective group, one patient died of unexpected variceal bleeding and one received a cadaveric graft just before the planned living donor transplantation was performed. One candidate was transplanted overseas and two cases are scheduled. The ratio of compatibility for donation was 34% (10/29) for blood type-compatible candidates.

Conclusions: Donor selection for living donor liver transplantation is a complex, labor-intensive multidisciplinary process. Most exclusions are due to blood type incompatibility or anatomic details. Psychosocial aspects of these donations warrant special attention.

___________

[1] FHF = fulminant hepatic failure

[2] ESLD = chronic end-stage liver disease

[3] PGNF = primary graft non-function

February 2005
A. Seifan and J. Shemer

Innovation in medical science is progressing at a rapid pace. As a result, new medical technologies that offer to improve upon or completely replace existing alternatives are continually appearing. These technologies – which include pharmaceuticals, devices, equipment, supplies, medical and surgical procedures, and administrative and support systems – are changing the way medicine can be practiced and delivered, forcing healthcare providers and policymakers to consistently evaluate and adapt to new treatment options. Meanwhile, society is becoming more demanding of new medical technologies. Emerging medical technology, however, has been viewed as a significant factor in increasing the cost of healthcare. The abundance of new medical alternatives, combined with scarcity of resources, has led to priority setting, rationing and the need for more technology management and assessment. Economic evaluation of medical technologies is a system of analysis used to formally compare the costs and consequences of alternative healthcare interventions. EEMT[1] can be used by many healthcare entities, including national policymakers, manufacturers, payers and providers as a tool to aid in resource allocation decisions. This paper discusses the four current popular methodologies for EEMT (cost-minimization, cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility), and describes the industry environment that has shaped their development.


 




[1] EEMT = economic evaluation of medical technologies


A. Seifan and J. Shemer
Innovation in medical science is progressing at a rapid pace. As a result, new medical technologies that offer to improve upon or completely replace existing alternatives are continually appearing. These technologies – which include pharmaceuticals, devices, equipment, supplies, medical and surgical procedures, and administrative and support systems – are changing the way medicine can be practiced and delivered, forcing healthcare providers and policymakers to consistently evaluate and adapt to new treatment options. Meanwhile, society is becoming more demanding of new medical technologies. Emerging medical technology, however, has been viewed as a significant factor in increasing the cost of healthcare. The abundance of new medical alternatives, combined with scarcity of resources, has led to priority setting, rationing and the need for more technology management and assessment. Economic evaluation of medical technologies is a system of analysis used to formally compare the costs and consequences of alternative healthcare interventions. EEMT[1] can be used by many healthcare entities, including national policymakers, manufacturers, payers and providers as a tool to aid in resource allocation decisions. This paper discusses the four current popular methodologies for EEMT (cost-minimization, cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility), and describes the industry environment that has shaped their development






[1] EEMT = economic evaluation of medical technologies


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