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עמוד בית
Sun, 14.07.24

August 2004

T. Kushnir, C. Levhar and A. Herman Cohen

Background: Burnout is a professional occupational disease that puts both physicians and patients at risk. Triggered by the increase in burnout levels among physicians, the European Forum of Medical Associations and the World Health Organization issued a statement in March 2003 expressing serious concerns about the situation, urging all national medical associations to increase awareness of the problem, monitor it and study its causes in order to develop preventive strategies.

Objectives: To compare burnout levels in two separate samples of primary care physicians measured in the mid-1990s, with burnout levels in a similar but small and independent sample, assessed in 2001; and to outline the theoretical bases of burnout.

Methods: Altogether, 508 primary care physicians employed by Clalit Health Services responded anonymously to a self-report questionnaire. The samples were not representative and included family physicians, pediatricians and clinic directors.

Results: Burnout levels were significantly higher in the 2001 sample than in the mid-1990s samples, especially among clinic directors.

Conclusions: Despite methodologic limitations of the study, the findings suggest that burnout levels may be increasing among primary care physicians in Israel. This may be due to substantial increases in workload and role conflicts, following implementation of the Health Insurance Law and Patients’ Rights Act. Because these findings are consistent with the trend in Europe, this situation cannot be ignored, and systematic studies of burnout among all medical specialties should be carried out to uncover current sources of the syndrome and to devise measures of prevention and treatment.

Original Articles
E. Leibovitz, N. Hazanov, A. Frieman, I. Elly and D. Gavish

Background: Elevated fibrinogen levels are considered a risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis and might be used as a predictor of risk for the development of atherothrombotic events. Several studies have reached equivocal conclusions regarding the effect of statins on fibrinogen.

Objectives: To evaluate the effect of atorvastatin on plasma fibrinogen levels in patients with severe hypercholesterolemia and no other risk factors.

Methods: Twenty-two patients with low density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels above 170 mg/dl (4.40 mmol/L) and with no other risk factors were included in the study. None of the patients had ever received hypolipidemic medication. Patients were followed for 24 weeks (6 office visits 4 weeks apart). During office visits, lipid profile, complete blood count, fibrinogen and C-reactive protein levels were measured.

Results: After 24 weeks of follow-up, total cholesterol decreased by 33% (287 ± 10 to 192 ± 8 mg/dl, P < 0.001), LDL-C[1] by 45% (198 ± 8 to 111 ± 7 mg/dl, P < 0.001) and triglycerides by 21% (189 ± 26 to 138 ± 15 mg/dl, P <0.001). Fibrinogen levels dropped by 18% (355 ± 26 to 275 ± 7 mg/dl, P = 0.01). CRP[2] levels decreased from 0.51 ± 0.15 to 0.28 ± 0.10 mg/dl, but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.09). High density lipoprotein, hemoglobin, white blood cell and platelet counts did not change.

Conclusions: We found that atorvastatin reduces plasma fibrinogen in patients with hypercholesterolemia.

[1] LDL-C = low density lipoprotein-cholesterol

[2] CRP = C-reactive protein

I. Korn-Lubetzki and A. Brand

Background: In developed countries, the incidence of Sydenham’s chorea, a major sign of rheumatic fever has declined, but outbreaks are still encountered worldwide.

Objectives: To report the characteristics of a cohort of SC[1] patients in the Jerusalem area.

Methods: We conducted a prospective assessment of rheumatic fever and SC between 1985 and 2002. The diagnosis of rheumatic fever was based on the revised Jones criteria. Other etiologies of chorea were excluded. Recurrence was defined as the development of new signs, lasting more than 24 hours and separated by a minimum of 2 months from the previous episode. Patients were followed for 1 to 14 years following the initial SC episode, and at least one year after recurrence.

Results: Among 180 children with rheumatic fever, 24 had SC. Most of them came from large families of Ashkenazi origin. In 19 patients (79%) the chorea was associated with other rheumatic fever signs, while 5 had pure chorea. Due to the systematic use of two-dimensional color Doppler echocardiography, cardiac involvement was detected in 75% of the patients. Ten patients (42%, 7 females) developed 11 recurrent episodes of chorea 3 months to 10 years after the initial episode. At recurrence, chorea was the sole rheumatic sign in all nine patients who recurred once. None of the patients had persistent chorea.

Conclusions: SC is still prevalent in the pediatric population of Jerusalem, and may recur years later. Recognition of the disease and adequate treatment is necessary.

[1] SC = Sydenham's chorea

G. S. Habib, R. Masri and S. Ben-Haim

Background: Gallium scintigraphy is frequently used in the evaluation of fever of unknown origin, although its utility has been addressed in only a few studies.

Objectives: To evaluate the utility of gallium scintigraphy in the evaluation of patients with FUO[1] in our department.

Methods: We reviewed the charts of all patients from our department who had undergone gallium scintigraphy during the years 1995–2002 for the evaluation of FUO and who met the criteria for the definition of FUO. Demographic, clinical and laboratory data in addition to the results of gallium scintigraphy were documented. The patients were divided into two groups: those with a normal gallium study (group 1) and those with an abnormal gallium study (group 2). The second group was further divided into two groups: those whose gallium study results contributed to the diagnosis of the cause of FUO (group 2A) and those whose gallium study results did not (group 2B).

Results: A total of 102 patients met the study criteria. The male: female ratio was 54:48 and the mean age ± SD was 62.4 ± 20 years. A final diagnosis had been reached in 63 patients (62%), among whom the etiology was infectious in 54%, neoplastic in 19% and immunologic/rheumatic in 16%. Forty-one patients (40% of all the patients) (Group 2) had an abnormal gallium scintigraphy, and in only 21 patients (21% of all the patients) (Group 2A) did the gallium study results contribute to the diagnosis of the cause of FUO. However, in only two patients from Group 2A (2% of all the patients in our study) was the contribution of gallium study considered significant or crucial to the diagnosis of the cause of FUO.

Conclusions: The utility of gallium scintigraphy in the evaluation of FUO is very limited.

[1] FUO = fever of unknown origin

N. Lubezky, R. Nakache, M. Carmiel, R. Oren, P. Sorkin, J. Klausner and M. Ben-Haim

Background: The prognosis of patients with fulminant hepatic failure without timely liver transplantation is dismal. Given the limited availability of cadaveric organs for urgent transplantation in Israel, adult-to-adult living-donor segmental liver transplantation may be the only alternative.

Objectives: To report our initial experience with urgent lifesaving LDLT[1] in this unique scenario.

Methods: Three adult patients with FHF[2] (two of unknown etiology, one with paracetamol intoxication) were transferred from other institutions and admitted to our intensive care unit. Initial treatment and monitoring included intracranial pressure monitoring and hepatic dialysis using the Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System. Expeditious potential donor selection included medical, psychosocial and surgical evaluation. Liver volume and vascular anatomic compatibility were assessed with computed tomography angiography.

Results: Between July and October 2003 we performed three procedures of urgent adult-to-adult LDLT. The donors (two uncles, one sister) underwent hepatic resection (two right lobes, one left lateral segment) and recovered well. The recipients underwent total hepatectomy with caval preservation, followed by lobar grafting. All recipients recovered and are alive with good liver function and without any neurologic complications.

Conclusions: Urgent adult-to-adult living-donor segmental liver transplantation can be performed safely and timely as a lifesaving procedure in the setting of comatose patients with FHF.

[1] LDLT = living-donor liver transplantation

[2] FHF = fulminant hepatic failure

E. Heldenberg, T. H. Vishne, N. Onaka and Z. Dreznik

Background: Mid- and lower rectum cancer is a technical challenge to the surgeon aiming to preserve the anal sphincter. The choice between abdominoperineal resection and anterior resection is often related to surgical skills.

Objectives: To evaluate the role of a specialized colorectal unit in preserving the anal sphincter mechanism in the treatment of rectal cancer.

Methods: Between 1991 and 1996, 75 patients with rectal cancer up to 12 cm from the anal verge were operated at the Sheba Medical Center. Among them, 21 patients (group 1) underwent surgery in the colorectal unit and 54 patients (group 2) in the other two surgical departments. All patients had a complete preoperative investigation and were followed for 12–90 months.

Results: Background and tumor parameters were similar for both groups. In group 1, 20 patients (95%) had low anterior resection and 1 patient (5%) had abdominoperineal resection as compared to 20 patients (37%) and 34 patients (63%), respectively, in group 2 (P < 0.005). There was no statistical difference in the systemic recurrence rate. Local recurrence was more frequent in group 2 (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Special training in colorectal surgery enables the surgeon, in keeping with the principles of oncologic surgery, to preserve the anal sphincter mechanism in most patients with adenocarcinoma located in the mid- and lower third of the rectum.

K. Stav, D. Leibovici, E. Goren, A. Livshitz, Y.I. Siegel, A. Lindner and A. Zisman

Background: Cystoscopy, the principal means of diagnosis and surveillance of bladder tumors, is invasive and associated with unpleasant side effects

Objectives: To determine the early complications of rigid cystoscopy and the impact on patients' quality of life and sexual performance.

Methods: One hundred consecutive patients undergoing diagnostic rigid cystoscopy filled in questionnaires including anxiety and pain levels (0–5 visual analogue scale), adverse events, short-form health survey, International Prostate Symptom Score, and functional sexual performance. Questionnaires were administered before, immediately after, and 1, 2 days, 2 and 4 weeks following cystoscopy.

Results: The pre-cystoscopy anxiety level was 2.01. The average pain during the examination was 1.41. SF-36[1] score was not affected by cystoscopy. The subjective impact on patients' quality of life was 0.51. The mean IPSS[2] increased following cystoscopy (6.75 vs. 5.43, P = 0.001) and returned to baseline 2 weeks later. A decline in libido was reported by 55.6% (25/45) and 50% (3/6) of the sexually active men and women, respectively. Cystoscopy was associated with a decreased Erectile Dysfunction Intensity Score, from 15.6 to 9.26 during the first 2 weeks (P = 0.04). The overall complication rate was 15% and included urethrorrhagia and dysuria. None of the patients had fever or urinary retention and none was hospitalized. The complication rate was higher in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (24% vs. 9.7%, P = 0.001).

Conclusions: Rigid cystoscopy is well tolerated by most patients and has only a minor impact on quality of life. However, cystoscopy transiently impairs sexual performance and libido. The early complications are mild and correlate with a diagnosis of BPH[3].

[1] SF-36 = short-form health survey

[2] IPSS = International Prostate Symptom Score

[3] BPH = benign prostatic hyperplasia

V. Pengo, C. Pegoraro and S. Iliceto

Classic anticoagulant drugs, such as heparin and warfarin, are very effective. Although in use for more than 50 years, they have some clinical drawbacks. Heparin, now better termed unfractionated heparin, can only be used intravenously and its laboratory control is complicated. Warfarin is orally administered, but its therapeutic window is very narrow and patients need repeated laboratory tests. Moreover, both drugs are non-specific, as they inhibit the coagulation cascade at several steps. Pharmaceutic research has developed new drugs, some of which are already on the market, such as fondaparinux, a pentasaccharide that can interact with antithrombin, thus inhibiting factor Xa. This pentasaccharide is part of the parent heparin molecule and can be chemically synthesized, with the advantage of avoiding extractive compounds. Fondaparinux has a half-life compatible with once-a-day administration; modification of its structure (idraparinux) has led to more stable binding with antithrombin and to an increase in its half-life to allow once-a-week administration. Alternatives to oral anticoagulants have been developed following the study of some compounds like hirudin, which directly binds thrombin and blocks its catalytic site. One of these molecules, ximelagatran, is in advanced clinical development. Ximelagatran is converted into its active form, melagatran, in the circulation, and thrombin activity can be blocked by oral administration twice daily. There is no need for laboratory control and phase II and phase III studies are encouraging. The next few years should bring great changes in the treatment of patients with thromboembolic disorders.

J. Delgado, B. Delgado, A. Fich and S. Odes

Microscopic colitis is an idiopathic chronic inflammatory bowel disease presenting with watery diarrhea. While colonoscopy and radiology findings are normal, the colon shows striking pathologic findings, including lymphocytic colitis and collagenous colitis. The clinical course is usually benign with sustained remission. Recent medical evidence shows that bismuth and budesonide are effective treatments.

E. Soudry and M. Stein

The management of uncontrolled bleeding in trauma patients is difficult in the prehospital setting, especially when transfer time to a care facility is prolonged. The goal of treatment is to stabilize the patient until surgery can be performed. In modern practice, the major aspects of optimal patient stabilization are the timing and volume of resuscitation and the use of blood products. The main problems are the logistics of handling the blood products as well as achieving the appropriate endpoint or resuscitation, while balancing the need to maintain blood pressure with the need to avoid deleterious coagulopathy. This work reviews current therapeutic modalities for prehospital management of uncontrolled bleeding trauma patients, namely low volume resuscitation, packed red blood cells, hemoglobin solutions, perfluorocarbons, hypertonic saline solutions, and recombinant activated factor VII.

Case Communications
C. Simsolo, I. Tatoor, F. Vigder and A. Blum
A. Lorber, A. Khoury, Y. Schwartz, Y. Braver, A. Klein-Kremer and L. Gelernter-Yaniv
O. Shovman, M. Severin, T. Shalev and T. Jonas-Kimchi
A. Horani, J. Ulitsky, Y. Kalish and R. Safadi
O. R. Brook, D. Litmanovich, D. Fischer, S.H. Israelit and A. Engel
Medical Archaelogy
J. Dequeker, E. Muls and K. Leenders

The painting Mona Lisa in the Louvre, Paris, by Leonardo da Vinci (1503–1506), shows skin alterations at the inner end of the left upper eyelid similar to xanthelasma, and a swelling of the dorsum of the right hand suggestive of a subcutaneous lipoma. These findings in a 25–30 year old woman, who died at the age of 37, may be indicative of essential hyperlipidemia, a strong risk factor for ischemic heart disease in middle age. As far as is known, this portrait of Mona Lisa painted in 1506 is the first evidence that xanthelasma and lipoma were prevalent in the sixteenth century, long before the first description by Addison and Gall in 1851.

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