Issahar Ben-Dov MD, Yelena Kishinevski MD, Judith Roznman MD, Alkrinawi Soliman MD, Hashem
Background: Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis is a rare disease in which a surfactant-like phospholipid-rich protein accumulates in the lungs. The disease is amenable to effective therapy by total lung lavage.
Objectives: To investigate the prevalence, ethnic distribution and course of PAP in Israel.
Methods: A countrywide survey was conducted during which pulmonologists were questioned about patients with PAP. The patients were examined and their charts, radiological images, pathological slides and physiological data were reviewed.
Results: The survey yielded 15 patients (8 females) during the period 1976–98 (14 in the last decade), giving a prevalence of 3.7x106 and an incidence of 0.36x106/year.
Mean age of the patients was 33±13 years (range 0.5–46 years). Seven patients were North African (two were siblings), four were from Iraq and two were Arabs; there was only one Ashkenazi Jew (a child). Symptoms at the onset were dyspnea and chest pain. Spontaneous remission occurred in at least 3 patients, and 10 patients required 1–4 bronchoalveolar lavage treatments. The subjective and physiological response was favorable, but there was less consistent radiological improvement.
Conclusion: The prevalence of PAP in Israel is approximately 3.7x106. Most cases occurred in Jews who had immigrated from North Africa or Iraq, and two were siblings. The prevalence among the Arab population appears to be similar. This clustering suggests the existence of a genetic predisposition. The course of the disease appears to be similar to that reported elsewhere.
PAP = pulmonary alveolar proteinosis
Shmuel Epstein MSc and Alon Eliakim MD
Background: The use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes, in particular anabolic steroids, is probably one of the major problems in sports today. During the early 1990s the Israeli Sports Federation and Olympic Committee established the Israeli Sports Anti-Doping Committee.
Objectives: To present a follow-up on tests for use of performance-enhancing drugs among elite Israeli athletes from 1993 until the present.
Methods: Since 1993, 273 drug tests (urine samples) were performed in elite Israeli athletes. These tests were done during major competitions, and at random during the regular training season without prior notice to the athletes. The urine samples were sent for analysis to an official drug laboratory of the Olympic Committee in Cologne, Germany.
Results: Since 1993, seven (2.7%) male Israeli elite athletes (5 weight lifters, a javelin thrower, and a sprinter) tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs — all of them for anabolic steroids, and two for diuretics as well.
Discussion: These findings suggest that the phenomenon of performance-enhancing drug use by elite athletes has also entered Israeli sports, and probably represent the tip of the iceberg among Israeli sportsmen. Therefore, more drug tests should be performed, especially at random without prior notice and during the regular season. Athletes in the most popular sports such as soccer and basketball should also be tested. The concern over the use of these agents is both medical and ethical.
Shaul Sukenik MD, Daniel Flusser MD, Shlomi Codish MD and Mahmoud Abu-Shakra MD
Background: Balneotherapy at the Dead Sea area has been applied in various inflammatory rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. The efficacy of balneotherapy at the Dead Sea area for the treatment of degenerative rheumatic diseases has not yet been formally evaluated.
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of balneotherapy at the Dead Sea area in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees.
Methods: Forty patients were randomly allocated into four groups of 10 patients. Group I was treated by bathing in a sulphur pool, group 2 by bathing in the Dead Sea, group 3 by a combination of sulphur pool and bathing in the Dead Sea, and group 4 served as the control group receiving no balneotherapy. The duration of balneotherapy was 2 weeks.
Results: Significant improvement as measured by the Lequesne index of severity of osteoarthritis was observed in all three treatment groups, but not in the control group. This improvement lasted up to 3 months of follow-up in patients in all three treatment groups.
Conclusion: Balneotherapy at the Dead Sea area has a beneficial effect on patients with osteoarthritis of the knees, an effect that lasts at least 3 months.
Shaul Dollberg MD and Francis B. Mimouni MD
Background and Objective: Very low birthweight infants (<1,500 g birthweight) often develop significant anemia that requires multiple blood transfusions, which carry a significant risk. Erythropoietin therapy is known to reduce the need for blood transfusions in preterm VLBW(1) infants. Analysis of cost had been reported in prospective studies with conflicting results. No studies comparing the cost-effectiveness of EPO(2) have been reported during routine use in preterm VLBW infants.
Methods: We compared the cost of treating anemia of prematurity in two consecutive 12-month periods: before and after the introduction of EPO therapy in our unit. The cost of blood bank charges as well as disposable items and the cost of EPO were compared.
Results: A significantly smaller number of infants required blood transfusions in the EPO group (2 of 25 vs. 9/21 before EPO was introduced). The cost of therapy for anemia of prematurity was significantly smaller in the EPO group (128±168 US$ per infant vs. 151±189 US$ per infant before the introduction of EPO).
Conclusion: We conclude that EPO is an efficient and cost-effective alternative to blood transfusions in VLBW infants.
(1) VLBW = very low birthweight
(2) EPO = erythropoietin
Peretz Weiss MD, Meir Mouallem MD, Rafael Bruck MD, David Hassin MD, Amir Tanay MD, Chaim M. Brickman MD, Zvi Farfel MD and Simon Bar-Meir MD
Background: Nimesulide is a relatively new non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is gaining popularity in many countries because it is a selective cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitor. Occasionally, treatment is associated with mild elevation of liver enzymes, which return to normal upon discontinuation of the drug. Several cases of nimesulide-induced symptomatic hepatitis were also recently reported, but these patients all recovered.
Objectives: To report the characteristics of liver injury induced by nimesulide.
Patients and Methods: We report retrospectively six patients, five of them females with a median age of 59 years, whose aminotransferase levels rose after they took nimesulide for joint pains. In all patients nimesulide was discontinued, laboratory tests for viral and autoimmune causes of hepatitis were performed, and sufficient follow-up was available.
Results: One patient remained asymptomatic. Four patients presented with symptoms, including fatigue, nausea and vomiting, which had developed several weeks after they began taking nimesulide (median 10 weeks, range 2–13). Hepatocellular injury was observed with median peak serum alanine aminotransferase 15 times the upper limit of normal (range 4–35), reversing to normal 2–4 months after discontinuation of the drug. The remaining patient eveloped symptoms, but continued taking the drug for another 2 weeks. She subsequently developed acute hepatic failure with encephalopathy and hepatorenal syndrome and died 6 weeks after hospitalization. In none of the cases did serological tests for hepatitis A, B and C, Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus, as well as autoimmune hepatitis reveal findings.
Conclusions: Nimesulide may cause liver damage. The clinical presentation may vary from abnormal liver enzyme levels with no symptoms, to fatal hepatic failure. Therefore, monitoring liver enzymes after initiating therapy with nimesulide seems prudent.
Shmuel Kivity MD, Amir Onn MD, Yoel Greif MD, Elizabeth Fireman PhD, Shmuel Pomeranz MD and Marcel Topilsky MD
Background: Nedocromil sodium confers both acute and chronic protective effects in patients with bronchial asthma, the interactions of which are unknown.
Objective: To examine to what extent and for how long nedocromil sodium prevents exercise-induced asthma when given immediately before exertion compared to chronic administration.
Patients and Methods: Eighteen asthmatic patients were given 4 mg NS at 30 min or 3.5 hours before exertion. We compared the resultant effect with that of the same protocol measured after 2 and 4 weeks of continuous treatment with the drug.
Results: Nedocromil sodium decreased exercise-induced asthma similarly at both points when given acutely. Chronic treatment of up to 4 weeks did not improve this protective effect at either interval following the inhalation.
Conclusion: Nedocromil sodium most likely reaches its maximal effect on exercise-induced asthma upon the first administration, although treatment for longer than 4 weeks might be required to prove a chronic effect of the drug.
Arnon D. Cohen, MD, Eli Reichental, MD and Sima Halevy, MD
Background: Cutaneous drug reactions are attributed usually to one culprit drug, however, some CDRs1 may be associated with drug interactions.
Objectives: To present a case series of foyr patients with phenytion-induced severe CDRs, including toxic epidermal necrolysis (2 patients), exanthematous eruption (1 patient) and hypersensitivity syndrome (1 patient). In all patients the reactions appeared following the combined intake of phenytion, corticosteroids and H2 blockers.
Conclusions: Our case series may imply the role of drug interactions between phenytion, corticosteroids and H2 blockers in the induction of severe CDRs.