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עמוד בית
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September 2012
R. Sukenik-Halevy, U. leil-Zoabi, L, Peled-Perez, J. Zlotogora, and S. Allon-Shalev

Background: Genetic screening tests for cystic fibrosis (CF), fragile X (FRAX) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) have been offered to the entire Arab population of Israel in the last few years. Since 2008, screening for CF is provided free of charge, but for FRAX and SMA the screening is privately funded with partial coverage by complementary health insurance programs.

Objectives: To assess the compliance of Arab couples for genetic screening tests, and the factors that affect their decisions.

Methods: We analyzed compliance for genetic screening tests at the Emek Medical Center Genetic Institute, and in outreach clinics in four Arab villages. We enquired about the reasons individuals gave for deciding not to undergo testing. We also assessed the compliance of these individuals for the triple test (a screening test for Down syndrome).

Results: Of the 167 individuals included in our study, 24 (14%) decided not to be tested at all. Of the 143 (86%) who decided to be tested, 109 were tested for CF only (65%) and 34 (20%) for SMA and FRAX (as well as CF). The compliance rate for the triple test was 87%. Technical reasons, mainly financial issues, were the most significant factor for not undergoing all three tests.

Conclusions: The compliance of the Arab community for genetic testing for SMA and FRAX is extremely low. We believe that this low utilization of screening is due to economic reasons, especially when a complementary health plan has not been acquired, and largely reflects the perception that these tests are less important since they are privately funded.
 

April 2011
M. Harari, E. Dramsdahl, S. Shany, Y. Baumfeld, A. Ingber, V. Novack and S. Sukenik

Background: Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are required by the skin for the production of vitamin D. The intensity of UVB at the Dead Sea area is the lowest in the world. Low vitamin D levels are often associated with musculoskeletal symptoms.

Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of climatotherapy at the Dead Sea on the production of vitamin D in Norwegian patients suffering from various rheumatic diseases and to investigate possible associations between increased vitamin D serum levels, musculoskeletal symptoms and disease severity.

Methods: Sixty Norwegian patients who came to the Dead Sea area for 21 days of medical rehabilitation were divided into three groups according to their diagnosis: chronic pain syndromes, i.e., low back pain or fibromyalgia (Group 1, n=33); rheumatoid arthritis (Group 2, n=16); and osteoarthritis (Group 3, n=11). Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) levels were determined at arrival and prior to departure. The treatment protocol included daily sun exposure (climatotherapy), bathing in the Dead Sea and mineral spring water (balneotherapy), mud applications and fitness classes.

Results: 25-OH-D serum levels increased significantly from 71.3 ± 26.6 nM at arrival to 89.3 ± 23.2 nM prior to departure (P < 0.001). Adjusted for the initial levels of pain (assessed by a visual analog scale) and disease severity, a direct correlation was observed between increased 25-OH-D serum levels and pain reduction (P = 0.012) and reduction of disease severity (P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea induces significant changes in vitamin D. Increased 25-OH-D serum levels are associated with reduced musculoskeletal pain and disease severity.
 

February 2009
by Lone S. Avnon, MD, Fauaz Manzur, MD, Arkadi Bolotin, PhD, Dov Heimer, MD, Daniel Flusser, MD, Dan Buskila, MD, Shaul Sukenik, MD and Mahmoud Abu-Shakra, MD.

Background: A high incidence of abnormal pulmonary function tests has been reported in cross-sectional studies among patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Few patients have been enrolled in longitudinal studies.

Objectives: To perform PFT[1] in rheumatoid arthritic patients without pulmonary involvement and to identify variables related to changes in PFT over 5 years of follow-up.

Methods: Consecutive RA[2] patients underwent PFT according to American Thoracic Society recommendations. All surviving patients were advised to repeat the examination 5 years later.

Results: PFT was performed in 82 patients (21 men, 61 women). Their mean age was 55.7 (15.9) years and the mean RA duration was 11.1 (10) years. Five years later 15 patients (18.3%) had died. Among the 67 surviving patients, 38 (56.7%) agreed to participate in a follow-up study. The initial PFT revealed normal PFT in only 30 patients (36.6%); an obstructive ventilatory defect in 2 (2.4%), a small airway defect in 12 (17%), a restrictive ventilatory defect in 21 (25.6%), and reduced DLco in 17 (20.7%). Among the 38 patients participating in the 5 year follow-up study, 8 developed respiratory symptoms, one patient had a new obstructive ventilatory defect, one patient developed a restrictive ventilatory defect, and 5 patients had a newly developed small airway defect. The DLco had improved in 7 of the 8 patients who initially had reduced DLco, reaching normal values in 5 patients. Over the study period a new reduction in DLco was observed in 7 patients. Linear regression analyses failed to identify any patient or disease-specific characteristics that could predict a worsening in PFT. The absolute yearly decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 sec among our RA patients was 47 ml/year, a decline similar to that seen among current smokers.

Conclusions: Serial PFT among patients with RA is indicated and allows for earlier identification of various ventilatory defects. Small airways disturbance was a common finding among our RA patients.






[1] PFT = pulmonary function testing



[2] RA = rheumatoid arthritis


G. Sherman, L. Zeller, A. Avriel, M. Friger, M. Harari and S. Sukenik

Background: Balneotherapy, traditionally administered during a continuous stay at the Dead Sea area, has been shown to be effective for patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of an intermittent regimen of balneotherapy at the Dead Sea for patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Methods: Forty-four patients with knee osteoarthritis were included in a prospective randomized single-blind controlled study. The patients were divided into two groups: a treatment group (n=24), which were treated twice weekly for 6 consecutive weeks in a sulfur pool heated to 35–36°C, and a control group (n=20) treated in a Jacuzzi filled with tap water heated to 35–36°C. Participants were assessed by the Lequesne index of osteoarthritis severity, the WOMAC index, the SF-36 quality of health questionnaire, VAS scales for pain (completed by patients and physicians), and physical examination.

Results: A statistically significant improvement, lasting up to 6 months, was observed in the treatment group for most of the clinical parameters. In the control group the only improvements were in the SF-36 bodily pain scale at 6 months, the Lequesne index at 1 month and the WOMAC pain score at the end of the treatment period. Although the patients in the control group had milder disease the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Intermittent balneotherapy appears to be effective for patients with knee osteoarthritis.

September 2008
January 2008
M. Abu-Shakra, S. Codish, L. Zeller, T. Wolak and S. Sukenik
 
Atherosclerotic disease is common in systemic lupus erythematosus and is the result of multiple pathogenic mechanisms that include traditional risk factors as well as SLE[1]-related factors. Endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness contribute significantly to the atherogenic process. Dobutamine stress echocardiogram has not been shown to detect subclinical coronary artery disease; however the high percentage of left ventricular outflow gradient requires further evaluation and follows-up studies.





[1] SLE = systemic lupus erythematosus


January 2007
avital avriel, daniel flusser, mahmoud abu shakra, sima halevi, shaul sukenik, avriel, flusser, abu shakra, halevi, sukenik, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus eythematosus
July 2006
S.W. Moses, M. David, E. Goldhammer, A. Tal and S. Sukenik
May 2006
July 2005
S. Codish, S. Dobrovinsky, M. Abu Shakra, D. Flusser and S. Sukenik
 Background: The efficacy of spa therapy in ankylosing spondylitis has not been investigated extensively.

Objective: To study the efficacy of balneotherapy and climatic therapy (climatotherapy) at the Dead Sea area in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

Methods: In a single-blind randomized controlled study, 28 patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis were allocated into two groups of 14 patients each. The first group (the combined treatment group) received balneotherapy (mud packs and sulfur pool) and exposure to the unique climatic conditions of the Dead Sea. The second group (the climatotherapy group) used the fresh water pool and experienced the same climatic conditions. The duration of treatment was 2 weeks and the follow-up period 3 months.

Results: For both patient groups a significant improvement was found in the outcome measures: Bath AS[1] Disease Activity Index (P = 0.002), Visual Analog Scale for pain (P = 0.002) and VAS[2] for spinal movement (P = 0.011). The variability was explained by the effect of time (within group effect) rather than the type of treatment (within group effect). Quality of life, assessed by the SF-36 questionnaire, was very low prior to the study, but improved in terms of pain amelioration in the combined treatment group.

Conclusions: Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea area can improve the condition of patients suffering from long-standing ankylosing spondylitis.


 


[1] AS = ankylosing spondylitis

[2] VAS = Visual Analog Scale


February 2005
S. Sukenik, M. Abu-Shakra and D. Flusser
September 2004
C. Novoselsky, S. Codish, E. Manor, K. Khait and S. Sukenik
November 2001
Sima Halevy, MD, Hani Giryes, MD, Michael Friger, PhD, Nili Grossman, PhD, Zeev Karpas, PhD, Batia Sarov, PhD and Shaul Sukenik, MD

Background: A beneficial effect was observed in patients with psoriasis vulgaris following balneotherapy with Dead Sea bath salt.

Objectives: To evaluate the possible role of trace elements in the effectiveness of balneotherapy. 

Methods: Serum levels of 11 trace elements were analyzed in 23 patients with psoriasis vulgaris who participated in a double-blind controlled study of balneotherapy, with either Dead Sea bath salt (12 patients) or common salt (11 patients). Thirteen healthy volunteers served as controls.

Results: The mean pre-treatment serum levels of boron, cadmium, lithium and rubidium were significantly lower in patients compared to controls, whereas the mean pre-treatment serum level of manganese was significantly higher in patients compared to controls. Balneotherapy with Dead Sea bath salt resulted in a significant decrease (P = 0.0051) in the mean serum level of manganese from 0.10 ± 0.05 mmol/L to 0.05 ± 0.02 mmol/L. The mean reduction in the serum level of manganese differed significantly (P = 0.002) between responders (% Psoriasis Area and Severity Index score reduction ³ 25) and non-responders (% PASI score reduction < 25). Following balneotherapy with Dead Sea bath salt the mean serum level of lithium decreased in responders by 0.01 ± 0.02 mmol/L whereas its level in non-responders increased by 0.03 ± 0.03 mmol/L. (P = 0.015).
Conclusions: Manganese and lithium may play a role in the effectiveness of balneotherapy with Dead Sea bath salt for psoriasis.

February 2001
Shaul Sukenik, MD, Ron Baradin, MD, Shlomi Codish, MD, Lily Neumann, PhD, Daniel Flusser, MD, Mahmoud Abu-Shakra, MD and Dan Buskila, MD

Background: Balneotherapy has been successfully used to treat various rheumatic diseases, but has only recently been evaluated for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Since no effective treatment exists for this common rheumatic disease, comple­mentary methods of treatment have been attempted.

Objectives:To assess the effectiveness of batneotherapy at the Dead Sea area in the treatment of patients suffering from both fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis.

Methods: Twenty-eight patients with psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia were treated with various modalities of bat­neotherapy at the Dead Sea area. Clinical indices assessed were duration of morning stiffness, number of active joints, a point count of 18 fibrositic tender points, and determination of the threshold of tenderness in nine fibrositic and in four control points using a dolorimeter.

Results: The number of active joints was reduced from 18.4+10.9 to 9+8.2 (P< 0.001). The number of tender points was reduced from 12.6+2 to 7.1±5 in men (P<0.003) and from 13.1+2 to 7.5+3.7 in women (P<0.001). A significant improvement was found in dolorimetric threshold readings after the treatment period in women (P< 0.001). No correlation was observed between the reduction in the number of active joints and the reduction in the number of tender points in the same patients (r= 0.2).

Conclusions: Balneotherapy at the Dead Sea area appears to produce a statistically significant substantial improvement in the number of active joints and tender points in both male and female patients with fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis. Further research is needed to elucidate the distinction between the benefits of staying at the Dead Sea area without balneotherapy and the effects of balneotherapy in the study population.

August 2000
Shlomi Codish, MD, Mahmoud Abu-Shakra, MD, Roman Depsames, MD, Neta Sion-Vardy, MD, Dan Benharroch, MD and Shaul Sukenik, MD
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