Menachem Rottem MD and Adham Egbarya BSc
Background: The efficacy of subcutaneous immunotherapy for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma and stinging insect hypersensitivity has been demonstrated in several studies.
Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness and side effects of immunotherapy in Israel and the relationship between local and systemic side effects.
Methods: This retrospective study was based on patient records and a computerized database for drug dispensing over a 5 year period. Success was rated as partial or complete. Side effects were classified as local or systemic. Systemic side effects were further classified according to severity, as mild (cutaneous), moderate (respiratory symptoms), or severe (cardiovascular).
Results: Of the 135 patients on aero-allergen immunotherapy who reached maintenance, 120 (88.9%) exhibited complete or partial improvement and 15 (11.1%) did not improve. All of the 44 patients on hymenoptera immunotherapy reached effective maintenance doses. The mean percent side effects calculated per treatment (injection) were 2.49 for local and 1.58 for a systemic reaction during the build-up phase, and 1.13 and 1.12 during the maintenance phase, respectively. Rates of systemic reactions were 1.3% for cutaneous, 1.14% for respiratory and 0.97% for cardiovascular reactions during the build-up phase, and 1.11%, 0.53%, and 0.51% during the maintenance phase, respectively. The odds of systemic reactions were significantly higher in patients with local reactions both in the build-up phase (P = 0.03) and in the maintenance phase (P = 0.0003). The number of annual medications dispensed per patient decreased from 31.5 to 26.0 during the first year after reaching maintenance, and to 22.5 in the second year. Pharmaceutical costs were 67% lower 1 year after the start of the maintenance phase, compared to the year before the start of immunotherapy, and 63% lower in the second year (P = NS).
Conclusions: Immunotherapy was effective and safe. Recognizing the benefits and safety of immunotherapy is necessary for physicians and health authorities in order to provide better care for allergic patients.
Ernesto de Meis MD PhD, Biatriz C. Brandão MD, Fernanda C. Capella MD , José A.P. Garcia MD and Simone C. Gregory MD
Thrombosis is a common phenomenon in patients with malignancies. It is believed that thrombosis is multifactorial and that in addition to mechanisms directly associated with cancer and its treatment, it may also be related to the interaction between the immune system and clotting. The present work describes four cancer patients (three adults and one child) whose clinical course was characteristic of catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (CAPS) in intensive care units of the National Cancer Institute of Rio de Janeiro. The presence of findings similar to those in CAPS can be attributed to an unbalanced interaction between the immune system and coagulation.
Ohad Hilly MD, Sagit Stern-Shavit MD, Shimon Ilan MD and Raphael Feinmesser MD
Background: Treatment guidelines for well-differentiated papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) are based on retrospective studies and vary among different professional thyroid associations.
Objectives: To evaluate physician adherence to guidelines, overall and by specialty.
Methods: Questionnaires on the approach to low risk PTC were distributed among 51 surgeons and endocrinologists treating patients with PTC in tertiary medical centers.
Results: A wide range of answers was recorded among physicians regarding the danger posed by low risk PTC to the patient’s life, urgency with which treatment should be administered, type of treatment, and risks associated with this treatment. There was a significant between-group difference in treatment preference: endocrinologists chose total thyroidectomy with radioactive iodine, while surgeons favored hemithyroidectomy alone.
Conclusions: There is a wide difference in treatment recommendations between treating physicians and different specialties with regard to low risk PTC. The wide variation within and between specialties may be explained by biases.
Liora Ore MD MPH, Hanna J. Garzozi MD, Naama Schwartz MA and Michal Cohen-Dar MD MPH
Background: The detection and correction of refractive errors is one of the priorities of the World Health Organization Initiative Vision 2020.
Objectives: To determine the factors related to a child having an ocular abnormality (poor vision, refractive error or other abnormality) among schoolchildren in northern Israel.
Methods: A cross-sectional population-based study was conducted among 2113 students aged 6-7 and 13-14 years old in 70 schools in northern Israel. Medical examination included vision history, clinical eye examination and vision testing. If a parent’s informed consent was available, eye drops (cycloplegia) were delivered for fundus and retinoscopy testing. An ophthalmologist was asked to determine the need for the child’s referral for further diagnostic procedures, treatment and/or follow-up. Multivariate analysis was limited to 1708 children, using data pertaining to the ophthalmologist’s decision regarding referral, as well as vision and retinoscopy results.
Results: Vision and/or ocular abnormality was prevalent in 21.5% (95% confidence interval 17.4–26.6%), predominantly among 13-14 year olds and Jewish children. Abnormal clinical findings were found in 5.7% of the students. Retinoscopy showed a higher prevalence of hypermetropia among 6-7 year olds and a higher prevalence of myopia and astigmatism among the 13-14 year olds. The multivariate analysis suggests an independent effect of retinoscopy abnormality (odds ratio = 3.85), vision abnormality (OR = 2.42), Jewish ethnicity (OR = 1.62) and 13-14 year old age group (OR = 1.26) on the ophthalmologist’s referral decision.
Conclusions: Vision and/or ocular abnormality is an important health problem among schoolchildren in northern Israel. The independent effect of ethnicity and age on the ophthalmologist’s referral decision should be further explored.
Arieh Riskin MD MHA, Ron Gonen MD, Amir Kugelman MD, Elias Maroun MD, Gregory Ekhilevitch MD and David Bader MD MHA
Background: Previous studies led to the recommendation to schedule planned elective cesarean deliveries at or after 39 weeks of gestation, and not before 38 weeks. The question is whether this practice is appropriate in face of possible risks to the newborn should the pregnancy have to be ended by cesarean section before the scheduled date.
Objectives: To compare the outcomes of newborn infants who were delivered on their scheduled day by elective cesarean section versus those who required delivery earlier.
Methods: This single-center retrospective study was based on medical records covering a period of 18 months. We compared the neonatal outcomes of 272 infants delivered by elective cesarean section as scheduled (at 38.8 ± 0.8 weeks gestation) and 44 infants who had to be delivered earlier than planned (at 37.9 ± 1.1 weeks).
Results: We found no morbidity directly related to delivery by cesarean section before the scheduled date. There were no significant differences in the need for resuscitation after delivery. Although more of the infants who were delivered early were admitted to intensive care and overall stayed longer in the hospital (5.8 ± 7.3 vs. 3.9 ± 0.8 days, P < 0.02), their more severe respiratory illness and subsequent longer hospitalization was the result of their younger gestational age. Transient tachypnea of the newborn was associated with younger gestational age at delivery in both groups.
Conclusions: We suggest continuing with the current recommendation to postpone elective cesarean singleton deliveries beyond 38–39 weeks of gestation whenever possible.
Taiba Zornitzki MD, Miron Froimovici MD, Rubi Amster MD and Samuel Lurie MD
Background: The prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in early pregnancy in Israel is not known.
Objectives: To assess the rate of abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) tests in low risk pregnant women attending a community clinic in Israel.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of the charts of low risk pregnant women (n=303) who had undergone a TSH screening during the first trimester of pregnancy at Clalit Health Services Women's Health Centers in Ashkelon and Tel Aviv. The TSH normal range during first trimester was considered to be 0.1–2.5 mIU/L.
Results: The TSH levels ranged from 0.04 to 13.3 mIU/L (median 1.73 mIU/L, mean 1.88 mIU/L). The rate of abnormal TSH was 25.6%, with low TSH 2.3% and high TSH 23.4%. The prevalence of abnormal TSH was not influenced by gravidity (primigravidas versus multigravidas) or place of residence (Ashkelon or Tel Aviv).
Conclusions: In view of the high prevalence of abnormal TSH (25.6%) in pregnant women in Israel during the first trimester, a universal country-wide screening should be considered.
Ilana Farbstein MD, Ivonne Mansbach-Kleinfeld MD, Judith G. Auerbach PhD, Alexander M. Ponizovsky MD PhD and Alan Apter MD
Background: The prevalence of ADHD is controversial, with many feeling that this disorder is over- or under-diagnosed.
Objectives: To study the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and its association with socio-demographic characteristics, comorbid mental disorders, medical services, and methylphenidate use in the Israeli adolescent population.
Methods: The Israel Survey of Mental Health among Adolescents was conducted in a representative national sample of 14–17 year olds and their mothers. The Development and Well-Being Assessment was administered to identify DSM-IV diagnoses of ADHD and comorbid mental and learning disorders, and the results were verified by senior child psychiatrists. Respondents were also asked about their use of medical services and psychotropic drug intake in the past 12 months.
Results: Three percent of the adolescents met the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD. ADHD was significantly associated with gender (higher prevalence in boys than girls), ethnicity (higher prevalence in Jews than Arabs/Druze), referral to a medical professional, and maternal help-seeking for the emotional or behavioral problems of the adolescent. Medication was prescribed to 2.9% of adolescents: 34.6% with a diagnosis of ADHD had not been prescribed methylphenidate in the past year, and 34.6% of the medicated subjects did not have a diagnosis of ADHD. None of the Arab/Druze adolescents was receiving stimulants compared to 3.7% of the Jewish adolescents.
Conclusions: Despite advances in public awareness of mental disorders in youth, a substantial proportion of older Israeli adolescents, especially from minority groups, are under-diagnosed or untreated. At the same time, many, especially from the Jewish majority, are over-diagnosed and potentially over-treated. Ethnic disparities in rates of mental health care highlight the urgent need to identify and overcome barriers to the recognition and treatment of these conditions.
Mahmoud Abu-Shakra MD, Amit Mayer MD, Michael Friger PhD and Marco Harari MD
Background: Low back pain (LBP) is chronic disease without a curative therapy. Alternative and complementary therapies are widely used in the management of this condition.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of home application of Dead Sea mud compresses to the back of patients with chronic low back pain (LBP).
Methods: Forty-six consecutive Patients suffering from chronic LBP were recruited. All patients were followed at the Soroka University Rheumatic Diseases Unit. The patients were randomized into two groups: group 1 was treated with mineral-rich mud compresses, and group 2 with mineral-depleted compresses. Mud compresses were applied five times a week for 3 consecutive weeks. The primary outcome was the patient’s assessment of the overall back pain severity. The score of the Ronald & Morris questionnaire served as a secondary outcome.
Results: Forty-four patients completed the therapy and the follow-up assessments: 32 were treated with real mudpacks and 12 used the mineral-depleted packs. A significant decrease in intensity of pain, as described by the patients, was observed only in the treatment group. In this group, clinical improvement was clearly seen at completion of therapy and was sustained a month later. Significant improvement in the scores of the Roland & Morris questionnaire was observed in both groups.
Conclusions: The data suggest that pain severity was reduced in patients treated with mineral-rich mud compresses compared with those treated with mineral-depleted compresses. Whether this modest effect is the result of a “true” mud effect or other causes cannot be determined in this study.