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עמוד בית
Fri, 14.06.24

January 2003

J. Shemer, N. L. Friedman, E. Kokia

This paper describes "Health Value Added" – an innovative model that links performance measurement to strategy in health maintanance organizations. The HVA[1] model was developed by Maccabi Healthcare Services, Israel’s second largest HMO[2], with the aim of focusing all its activities on providing high quality care within budgetary and regulatory constraints. HVA draws upon theory and practice from strategic management and performance measurement in order to assesses an HMO’s ability to improve the health of its members. The model consists of four interrelated levels – mission, goals, systems, and resources – and builds on the existence of advanced computerized information systems that make comprehensive measurements available to decision makers in real time. HVA enables management to evaluate overall organizational performance as well as the performance of semi-autonomous units. In simple terms, the sophisticated use of performance measures can help healthcare organizations obtain more health for the same money.

[1] HVA = Health Value Added

[2] HMO = health maintenance organization

Original Articles
I. Caspi, M. Levinkopf and J. Nerubay

Background: Damage to the intervertebral disk is usually corrected by means of a prosthesis.

Objectives: To report the outcome of the artificial lumbar disk replacement with the Charité SB III disk prosthesis in 20 patients after a 48 month follow-up.

Methods: The 20 patients were evaluated clinically and radiographically during this period. Preoperative diagnosis included degenerative diskopathy in 17 patients and failed posterior conventional diskectomy in 3. The prosthesis was implanted at one level in 17 patients and bi-level implantation was performed in the other 3 patients.

Results: Eighty percent of patients reported satisfactory to very good results. Poor results were reported by four patients, one of whom underwent posterolateral fusion and another is waiting for the same operation. There were two dislocations of the prosthesis followed by immediate revision surgery.

Conclusions: Contraindications for surgery appear to be the principal cause of failure rather than the prosthesis itself.

S. Goland, G. Loutaty, A. Arditi, E. Snir, I. Abend and A. Caspi

Background: Concomitant mitral valve regurgitation is often present in patients with aortic stenosis. The additional MV[1] replacement is associated with high operative risk. Previous studies have shown an amelioration of MV regurgitation after aortic valve replacement but most of the patient groups were heterogenous.

Objectives: To determine whether AV[2] replacement for aortic stenosis has any effect on MV regurgitation.

Methods: We reviewed two-dimensional echocardiography and color flow Doppler assessment of both aortic stenosis and MV regurgitation severity in 30 patients. Patients with previous MV surgery, organic MV disease, occlusive carotid artery disease, ejection fraction < 50%, and coexisting significant AV regurgitation were excluded. Preoperatively, MV regurgitation was mild in 23 patients (77%) and moderate in 7 (23%); in no patient was the condition severe. All patients had severe atrial stenosis (peak average aortic gradient was 86  ± 22 mmHg in the mild MV regurgitation group, and 83 ± 26 mmHg in the moderate group). The patients were divided into two groups according to the severity of MV regurgitation (associated mild, and moderate). Group 2, with moderate MV regurgitation, was the most problematic in terms of decision making for concomitant MV surgery. Therefore, additional assessment of several parameters was required.

Results: There was a significant decrease in MV regurgitation area (7.6 ± 1.9 vs. 3.0 ± 1.2 cm2, P £ 0.012) and percent (28 ± 5% vs. 12 ± 6%, P £ 0.001) between pre- and postoperative evaluation. Thus, the severity of the condition in all patients with moderate MV regurgitation decreased after AV replacement; in the mild group it remained unchanged in 53% or improved in 47%. There was no association between the preoperative gradient on the aortic valve and the degree of MV regurgitation.

Conclusions: In our population of patients with severe atrial stenosis there were no patients with coexisting severe MV regurgitation. The decision to repair or replace a severely leaking mitral valve is an easy one, as in mild MV regurgitation. The clinical problem often presents in patients with severe aortic stenosis and moderate MV regurgitation. We believe that additional MV surgery is not necessary, at least in patients with preserved left ventricular function and without organic MV disease.

[1] MV = mitral valve

[2] AV = aortic valve

D. Rinkevich, J. Lessick, D. Mutlak, W. Markiewicz and S.A. Reisner

Background: With the introduction of surgery and percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty for relieving severe mitral stenosis the natural history of the disease has markedly altered.

Objectives: To determine the natural history of patients with moderate mitral valve stenosis.

Methods: Demographic, clinical and echocardiographic data were evaluated in 36 patients with moderate mitral stenosis during a follow-up of 71 ± 15 months.

Results: The 36 patients comprised 32 women and 4 men with a mean age of 43.7 ± 12.2 years; 28 were Jewish and 8 were of Arab origin. During follow-up, there was a significant decrease in mitral valve area, with an increase in mean mitral valve gradient and score. Mean loss of mitral valve area was 0.04 ± 0.11 cm2/year. No correlation was found between disease progression and age, past mitral valve commissurotomy, baseline mean gradient or mitral valve score. Larger baseline mitral valve area (P = 0.007) and Arab origin (P = 0.03) had an independent correlation to loss of mitral valve area. Fifteen patients (42%) did demonstrate any loss in mitral valve area during the follow-up period.

Conclusions: The rate of mitral valve narrowing in patients with moderate mitral stenosis is variable and cannot be predicted by patient’s age, past commissurotomy, valve score or gradient. Secondly, larger baseline mitral valve area and Arab origin showed an independent correlation to loss of mitral valve area; and finally, in many patients valve area did not change over a long observation period.

D. Kohelet

Background: High frequency oscillatory ventilation has proved valuable in recruiting and sustaining lung volume; the combined treatment may augment nitric oxide delivery to target vessels. NO[1] therapy lowers pulmonary resistance and improves oxygenation.

Objective: To retrospectively review data on changes in oxygenation – indicated by arterial/alveolar PO2 ratio, oxygenation index, and outcome – in a cohort of 10 infants with hypoxemic respiratory failure in whom nitric oxide inhalation was instituted in a compassionate-use protocol after deteriorated oxygenation.

Methods: NO inhalation was administered at a range of 0.12–122 days of life using the SensorMedics system in 10 infants who developed hypoxemic respiratory failure associated with a variety of lung diseases while on HFOV[2].

Results: The infants' birthweight was 1,717 ± 1,167 g and their gestational age 31.1 ± 6.5 weeks. Mean exposure to NO inhalation was 14.2 days and ranged from 3–59 days. Oxygenation index decreased from 39.3 ± 13.2 to 12.7 ± 6.9 (P < 0.0002) after NO therapy. Despite an initial prompt response to NO inhalation, two patients died of progressive intractable respiratory failure and one term infant died of extrapulmonary complications (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy grade III and multiorgan failure).

Conclusion: Our results indicate that the combined treatment of HFOV and NO inhalation is superior to HFOV alone for improving oxygenation in a selected cohort of infants ventilated for a variety of lung diseases.

[1] NO = nitric oxide

[2] HFOV = high frequency oscillatory ventilation

I. Srugo, J. Steinberg, R. Madeb, R. Gershtein, I. Elias, J. Tal, O. Nativ

Background: Non-gonococcal urethritis is the most common clinical diagnosis for men seeking care at sexually transmitted disease clinics.

Objective: To identify the pathogens involved in NGU[1] among males attending an Israeli STD clinic.

Methods: During 19 months spanning September 1996 to July 1998 we investigated a cohort of 238 male patients attending the Bnai Zion Medical Center STD[2] clinic with a clinical presentation of urethritis. Intraurethral swab specimens were tested for Neisseria gonorrhea, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Mycoplasma hominis, and Trichomonas vaginalis by culture and for herpes simplex virus by antigen detection. First voiding urine for Chlamydia trachomatis was done by polymerase chain reaction. The specific seropositivities of HSV[3] types 1 and 2 were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Results: From among 238 males with dysuria or urethral discharge an etiology for urethritis was found for 71 (29.8%). N. gonorrhea was recovered in only three men (4.2%). In the remaining 68 NGU patients C. trachomatis (35/68, 51.5%) and U. urealyticum (31/68, 45.6%) were the most common infecting and co-infecting pathogens (P < 0.0001). M. hominis and T. vaginalis were found in 9/68 (13.2%), and 1 patient, respectively. HSV was recovered from the urethra in 7/68 males (10.3%) – 3 with HSV-1, 2 with HSV-2, and 2 were seronegative for HSV. None of these males had genital lesions. Although a single etiologic agent was identified in 45/68 infected men (66.2%), co-infection was common: 2 organisms in 15 (22%) and 3 organisms in 8 (11.8%).

Conclusion: C. trachomatis and U. urealyticum were the most common infecting and co-infecting pathogens in this cohort of men with NGU. Unrecognized genital HSV infections are common in males attending our STD clinic and symptomatic shedding of HSV occurs without genital lesions. Still, the microbial etiology in this group remains unclear in many patients despite careful microbiologic evaluation.

[1] NGU = non-gonococcal urethritis

[2] STD = sexually transmitted disease

[3] HSV = herpes simplex virus

J. Issakov, G. Flusser, Y. Kollender, O. Merimsky, B. Lifschitz-Mercer and I. Meller

Background: Imaging-guided core needle biopsy is a well-established technique for the diagnosis of bone and soft tissue tumors and tumor-like lesions in specialized orthopedic oncology centers.

Objective: To present our results of computed tomography-guided core needle biopsy with assessment of the accuracy of the technique.

Methods: Between July 1998 and October 2000, 215 CT-guided core needle biopies were performed and histologically examined in the Unit of Bone and Soft Tissue Pathology, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. There were 80 soft tissue and 135 bony lesions. All biopsies were performed by the same radiologist and the histologic examination by the same pathologist.  To assess the accuracy of the procedure, we compared the diagnosis at biopsy with the diagnosis after definitive surgery (when available).

Results: Bone core needle biopsy (n = 135) showed malignancy in 89 cases (primary or recurrent bone sarcoma, lymphoma, myeloma, metastatic carcinoma or melanoma). There were 29 benign lesions. In 17 cases the result was inconclusive and an open incisional biopsy was performed. Of the 80 soft tissue biopsies, 35 were malignant (25 soft tissue sarcomas, 6 lymphomas, 4 metastatic carcinomas); 40 were benign (myositis ossificans, neurofibroma, desmoid tumor, schwannoma, hematoma and others), and 5 were inconclusive and followed by an open incisional biopsy. The core needle biopsy histologic diagnosis was compared with that of the definitive surgery and the diagnostic accuracy was 90%. Only three samples initially diagnosed as benign turned out to be malignant. No significant complications occurred during the procedures.

Conclusions: CT-guided CNB[1] of musculoskeletal lesions is a safe and effective procedure that assures sufficient and proper material for histologic examination. The accuracy of this method in our center was 90%. Tumor sampling is extremely important, especially in soft tissue sarcomas, and cores should be taken in different directions, including areas of necrosis. The processing is quick, especially for bone CNB, and diagnosis can be achieved within 24 hours. The material undergoes excellent fixation and the immunostains are reliable.

[1] CNB = core needle biopsy

S. Vinker, Y. Yogev, E. Kitai, A. Ben Haroush and B. Kaplan

Background: Menopause affects women's health and well-being, but their knowledge of proper care and maintenance is uncertain.

Objective: To assess the attitude and approach of the healthy, low risk, postmenopausal population in Israel to personal healthcare and menopause.

Methods: The study population comprised 500 menopausal women attending community outpatient primary care clinics. All women completed a 20-item questionnaire covering personal healthcare habits, lifestyle, knowledge about menopause, and attitude and approach to menopause and use of hormone replacement therapy.

Results: The patients' mean body mass index was 25.8 ± 4.1 kg/m2; more than half the women were overweight, 28% percent engaged in regular sports activity, nd 11.2% smoked; 74% had a positive attitude towards their age; 60% underwent yearly screening mammography; 74% have had Pap smear and 86% had lipid profile measurements during the last year; self-examination of the breast was regularly performed by only 49%. HRT[1] is currently being used by 27% and had been used in the past by another 16%. The primary reasons for stopping therapy were irregular bleeding in 38% and apparent ineffectiveness in 35%. There was a positive significant correlation between level of education and both undergoing regular medical screening and engaging in regular sports activity. HRT current utilization was negatively associated with age and being a housewife.

Conclusions: A relatively high percentage of the study population safeguards its health and regularly uses HRT. We believe that stronger efforts are needed in Israel to promote good healthcare habits and positive attitudes toward menopause and HRT use.

[1] HRT = hormone replacement therapy

M. Fisher, D. Yassour Borochowitz and E. Neter

Background: Domestic violence is considered a major risk factor in pregnancy.

Objectives: To assess the prevalence of different kinds of abuse (physical, psychological, sexual) of pregnant as compared to non-pregnant women, and to identify demographic risk factors for physical abuse that characterize the woman and her partner.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 270 women seeking gynecologic care at women health centers in northern Israel. Information was collected by means of a standardized questionnaire administered via phone, and addressed demographic data, interaction with the partner, and reporting of physical abuse. All information was obtained from the respondents (including information about her partner).

Results: Four abuse scores were computed: severe physical attack, minor physical attack, psychological abuse, and sexual coercion. Psychological abuse was found to be the most prevalent (24%), followed by minor and severe physical attack (17% and 8.1%, respectively), and sexual coercion (5.6%). Physical attacks related to pregnancy (directed at the abdomen) occurred in 5.4% of the pregnant women. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of the different types of abuse between pregnant and non-pregnant women. Physical attack was associated with socioeconomic status, work status, and degree of religiosity.

Conclusion: Pregnant women were at a similar risk for abuse as non-pregnant women in all abuse categories. Predictors for abuse – socioeconomic status and religiosity – are reviewed primarily in a cultural context.

M. Huerta, R.D. Balicer and A. Leventhal

During September 2002, Israel began its current revaccination program against smallpox, targeting previously vaccinated “first responders” among medical and emergency workers. In order to identify the potential strengths and weaknesses of this program and the conditions under which critical decisions were reached, we conducted a SWOT analysis of the current Israeli revaccination program, designed to identify its intrinsic strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities for its success and threats against it. SWOT analysis – a practical tool for the study of public health policy decisions and the social and political contexts in which they are reached - revealed clear and substantial strengths and weaknesses of the current smallpox revaccination program, intrinsic to the vaccine itself. A number of threats were identified that may jeopardize the success of the current program, chief among them the appearance of severe complications of vaccination. Our finding of a lack of a generation of knowledge on smallpox vaccination urgently calls for improved physician education and dissipation of misconceptions that are prevalent in the public today.

V. Klaitman and Y. Almog

Sepsis is an inflammatory syndrome caused by infection. Consequently, anti-inflammatory therapies in sepsis have been a subject of extensive research and corticosteroids have been used for years in the therapy of severe infections. However, studies conducted in the 1980s failed to demonstrate any beneficial effects of high dose, short-term steroid therapy in sepsis and this therapy was therefore abandoned during the last decade. Recently, a new concept has emerged with more promising results - low dose, long-term hydrocortisone therapy – and this approach is now being evaluated in the treatment of septic shock. It is supported by the observation that many sepsis patients have relative adrenal insufficiency. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effects of steroids and their ability to improve reactivity to catecholamines further contribute to their effects in sepsis. Large randomized clinical trials will be required to determine the exact role of corticosteroids in septic shock.

Case Communications
R.D. Strous, R. Stryjer, M. Zerzion, M. Weiss and F. Bar
M. Roif, E.B. Miller, A. Kneller and Z. Landau
E. Zalzstein, A. Wagshal, N. Zucker, A. Levitas, I.E. Ovsyshcher and A. Katz
Pulmonology Update
O. Shovman, Y. Levi, S. Tal and Y. Shoenfeld
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