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עמוד בית
Sat, 13.07.24

November 2004

F.F. Simonstein

While some claim that germ-line engineering is a definite possibility, the law in Israel and in most countries states that it should be avoided. This paper suggests that using GLE[1] in order to ‘self-evolve’ (when it becomes safe) is not only inevitable but also morally justified. This paper argues that,  

  • The great achievements of healthcare during the last century, enabling longer life, have made almost everyone prey to late-onset diseases.

  • The conundrum of healthcare allocation is worsening, partly due to late-onset dysfunctional genes that have escaped the barriers of natural selection.

  • Trying to free future generations from late-onset diseases (such as Alzheimer’s for instance) may be considered as ‘eugenics’ but, if pursued freely and justly, is a noble goal.

  • We will be affecting future generations whether or not we use GLE.

  • By definition, GLE might be reversible; it follows therefore that GLE may not necessarily represent the dramatic change inserted in the germ line forever – as is usually suggested.

  • Reproductive freedom and justice are paramount in this scenario. These values are not necessarily incompatible if the right policies are in place.

[1] GLE = germ line engineering

M. Oren

The world now faces the dreadful possibility of biological weapons attacks by terrorists. Healthcare systems would have to cope with such emergencies should all preemptive measures fail. Information gained from the Global Mercury exercise and the SARS outbreak has shown that containing an outbreak at the start is more effective than reacting to it once it has spread and that containment should be treated both nationally and internationally. On the national level this entails developing rapid and effective methods to detect and identify infected cases, and implementing isolation and control measures to lower the risk of further transmission of the disease while assuring the safety of medical teams and laboratory workers. Strategic contingency plans should incorporate well-defined procedures for hospitalization and isolation of patients, providing regional backup of medical personnel and equipment and maintaining close cooperation between the various bodies in the healthcare system. Quarantine is an effective containment measure, especially if voluntarily imposed. Modern communication systems can help by sending professional teams timely instructions and providing the public with information to reduce panic and stress during quarantine procedures. Informing the public poses a dilemma: finding a balance between giving advance warning of an imminent epidemic outbreak and ascertaining the likelihood of its occurrence. Containment of international bioterrorist attacks depends entirely on close international cooperation to implement national and international strategic contingency plans with free exchange of information and recognition of procedures.

A.B. Jotkowitz, A. Porath and S. Glick
Original Articles
O. Lev-Ran, D. Pevni, N. Nesher, R. Sharony, Y. Paz, A. Kramer, R. Mohr and G. Uretzky

Background: Advances in surgical techniques and retractor-stabilizer devices allowing access to all coronary segments have resulted in increased interest in off-pump coronary artery bypass. The residual motion in the anastomotic site and potential hemodynamic derangements, however, render this operation technically more demanding.

Objectives: To evaluate the OPCAB[1] experience in a single Israeli center.

Methods: Between 2000 and 2003 in our institution, 1,000 patients underwent off-pump operations. Patients were grouped by the type of procedure, i.e., minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass or mid-sternotomy OPCAB.

Results: One hundred MIDCAB[2] operations were performed. Of the 900 OPCAB, 767 patients received multiple grafts with an average of 2.6 ± 0.6 grafts per patient (range 2–4) and the remaining patients underwent single grafting during hybrid or emergency procedures. In the multiple-graft OPCAB group, complete revascularization was achieved in 96%. Multiple arterial conduits were used in 76% of the patients, and total arterial revascularization without aortic manipulation, using T-graft (35%) or in situ configurations, was performed in 61%. The respective rates for early mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke in the MIDCAB were 1%, 0% and 2%, and 2%, 1.3% and 0.9% in the multiple-vessel OPCAB groups. Multivariate analysis identified renal dysfunction (odds ratio 11.5, confidence interval 3.02–43.8; P < 0.0001) and emergency operation (OR[3] 8.74, CL[4] 1.99–38.3; P = 0.004) as predictors of mortality. The proportion of off-pump procedures increased from 9% prior to the study period to 59%.

Conclusions: The use of OPCAB does not compromise the ability to achieve complete myocardial revascularization. Our procedure of choice is OPCAB using arterial conduits, preferably the 'no-touch' aorta technique.

[1] OPCAB = off-pump coronary artery bypass

[2] MIDCAB = minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass

[3] OR = odds ratio

[4] CI = confidence interval

M. Leitman, V. Shir, E. Peleg, S. Rosenblatt, E. Sucher, R. Krakover, E. Kaluski and Z. Vered

Background: Cardiac rupture is a rare but ominous complication of myocardial infarction.

Objectives: To study the clinical presentation, medical course, outcome and echocardiographic predictors of patients with myocardial rupture.

Methods: We evaluated 15 consecutive patients with cardiac rupture during a 4 year period in our department. The current report explores the presence of potential risk factors, timing, relation to the thrombolysis, coronary interventions and outcome.

Results: The index event in all patients was first ST elevation myocardial infarction. In seven patients rupture occurred in the first 24 hours. Pericardial effusion on admission with a clot was present in three patients. Five patients received thrombolytic therapy. Only three patients underwent coronary angioplasty, but in one case it was performed late and in two patients the culprit artery could not be opened. Six patients reached the operating room, of whom three survived.

Conclusions: The lack of early mechanical reperfusion in acute myocardial infarction and thrombolytic therapy are risk factors for cardiac rupture. Pericardial effusion on admission and evidence of a clot are echocardiographic indicators of cardiac rupture and should alert the medical team to further assess the possibility of cardiac rupture.

J. Levy, M. Puterman, T. Lifshitz, M. Marcus, A. Segal and T. Monos

Background: In patients with Graves’ ophthalmopathy, orbital decompression surgery is indicated for compressive optic neuropathy, severe corneal exposure, or for cosmetic deformity due to proptosis. Traditionally this has been performed through a transantral approach, but the associated complication rate is high. More recently, endoscopic orbital decompression has been performed successfully with significantly fewer postoperative complications.

Objective: To report our experience of endoscopic orbital decompression in patients with severe Graves’ ophthalmopathy.

Methods: Three patients (five eyes) underwent endoscopic orbital decompression for Graves’ ophthalmopathy at Soroka Medical Center between the years 2000 and 2002. The indications for surgery were compressive optic neuropathy in three eyes, severe corneal exposure in one eye, and severe proptosis not cosmetically acceptable for the patient in one case. An intranasal endoscopic approach with the removal of the medial orbital wall and medial part of the floor was performed.

Results: In all five eyes an average reduction of 5 mm in proptosis was achieved. Soon after surgery, visual acuity improved in the three cases with compressive optic neuropathy, and exposure keratopathy and cosmetic appearance improved. The diplopia remained unchanged. No complications were observed postoperatively.

Conclusions: Endoscopic orbital decompression with removal of the medial orbital wall and medial part of the floor in the five reported eyes was an effective and safe procedure for treatment of severe Graves’ ophthalmopathy. A close collaboration between ophthalmologists and otorhinolaryngologists skilled in endoscopic sinus surgery is crucial for the correct management of these patients.

T. Eidlitz Markus, M. Mimouni, A. Zeharia, M. Nussinovitch and J. Amir

Background: An estimated 10% of all children are subject to recurrent attacks of abdominal pain of unknown origin. When no organic cause is found, the working diagnosis is usually functional abdominal pain.

Objectives: To investigate the possible causative role of occult constipation.

Methods: We defined occult constipation as the absence of complaints of constipation on initial medical history or of symptoms to indicate the presence of constipation. The diagnosis was made by rectal examination and/or plain abdominal X-ray.

Results: Occult constipation was found to be the cause of RAP[1] in 42.6% of children examined. Treatment consisted of paraffin oil and phosphate enema. In 82.84% of cases the abdominal pain subsided considerably or disappeared within 2 weeks to 3 months of treatment. On telephone interview of the parents at 1–1.5 years after discharge, 96.5% reported that both the abdominal pain and constipation had subsided or disappeared.

Conclusions: Occult constipation can be easily identified and treated in a large number of children with RAP who were diagnosed as having functional abdominal pain.

[1] RAP = recurrent abdominal pain

O. Zimmerman and P. Halpern

Background: The long-standing and ongoing controversy regarding administration of analgesia to patients with acute abdominal pain prior to final diagnosis has not yet been resolved, despite considerable research. Consequently, wide variations in clinical practice exist.

Objectives: To determine the motives, attitudes and practices of emergency physicians, internists and surgeons in Israeli emergency departments regarding the administration of analgesia before diagnosis in patients with acute abdominal pain.

Methods: Questionnaires were completed by 122 physicians in 21 EDs[1] throughout Israel and the replies were analyzed.

Results: Most EDs did not have a clear policy on analgesia for undifferentiated abdominal pain, according to 65% of the responders. More internists (75%) than surgeons (54%) (P = 0.02) and more emergency physicians (81%) than all other physicians (60%) (P = 0.05) held this opinion. Most respondents (64%) supported administration of analgesia pre-diagnostically. Support for analgesia was significantly stronger among internists (75%) compared to surgeons (52%) (P = 0.03). Despite this wide support, most respondents (68%) indicated that analgesia was rarely or never given pre‑diagnostically and, when it was, more surgeons (58%) than other physicians made that decision. Most internists (73%) and all surgeons reported that patients receive analgesia only after being examined by surgeons. Time allocated to the ED (part‑ or full‑time) significantly (P = 0.02) influenced decision-making, with 51% of part-time physicians vs. 25% of full-time opposing prompt administration of analgesia. Opinions on who should decide were divided according to medical specialty, with surgeons and internists almost opposed, as well as by physician age and percent of his/her time spent working in the ED. More surgeons than internists (P = 0.0005) reported that analgesia sometimes interfered with making a diagnosis. Most physicians (90%) stated that opiates impede diagnosis, to some extent. However, 58% of them supported the administration of opiates, more or less frequently. Intramuscular diclofenac was the most preferred analgesic, followed by intravenous morphine and pethidine; individual preferences extended beyond the list of actually administered drugs.

Conclusions: There is no consensus on the administration of analgesia for undiagnosed acute abdominal pain in EDs in Israel. Physicians’ attitudes are influenced by training, experience, and percent of personal time allocated to work in the ED.

[1] ED = emergency department

A. Tarasiuk and H. Reuveni

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a major public health hazard affecting 2–4% of the adult population; only 10% of these patients are recognized by healthcare providers. In the last decade the number of referrals for polysomnography increased threefold in Israel, compared to 12-fold worldwide, and is expected to increase even more in the coming years. This constant demand for PSG[1] studies is beyond the current capacity of sleep laboratories, thus preventing diagnosis for most patients with suspected OSAS[2]. In the current review, we examine problems facing decision-makers on how to treat the increasing flood of patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of sleep-disordered breathing. We evaluate the cost-effectiveness of current technologies for OSA diagnosis, i.e., laboratory versus at-home technologies. We conclude that no current alternative exists to the use of PSG for OSA diagnosis. When at-home technologies are suggested for OSAS diagnosis, data should be provided on factors influencing its cost-effectiveness, e.g., accuracy rates of diagnosis, relative cost of human resources, and case-mix of patients tested. Since PSG remains the gold standard for diagnosis of OSAS, in Israel resources should be allocated to increasing the volume of beds for PSG studies in order to increase access to diagnosis and treatment, which in turn provides better quality of life, saves scarce resources of the healthcare system, prevents unnecessary accidents and increases workers’ productivity.

[1] PSG = polysomnography

[2] OSAS = obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

Case Communications
N. Hiller, O. Goitein and Y.J. Ashkenazi
D. Silverberg, A.S. Paramesh, S. Roayaie and M.E. Schwartz
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