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עמוד בית
Sat, 28.11.20

October 2008

Original Articles
G. Katz, R. Durst, E. Shufman, R. Bar-Hamburger and L. Grunhaus

Background: In recent years, mother to child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus in the west has decreased markedly due to the advent of antiretroviral drugs given during pregnancy, cessation of lactation and careful monitoring of viral load in the perinatal period.

To assess mother to child transmission of HIV[1] among Ethiopian immigrants and non-Ethiopians in the Jerusalem area.

We conducted a prospective analysis of all deliveries of HIV-positive women in the Jerusalem district over a 10 year period.

Between 1996 and 2006, 35 HIV+ women gave birth to 45 infants. Thirty-one (88%) of these women were of Ethiopian origin and gave birth to 39 infants. Of the 35 HIV+ women, 30 were aware of being HIV positive. They gave birth to 40 infants. Another 5 women (14%) were not aware of being HIV+ during delivery. They gave birth to five infants. Of the group of known HIV+ women, 26 (87%) were Ethiopian immigrants who delivered 34 infants and 4 were non-Ethiopians who delivered 6 infants. In the group of five women not aware of being HIV+, all were Ethiopians. Breast-feeding data were available for 32 of the 35 women. Only 2 women (6.2%) breast-fed their babies. Neither was aware of being HIV+. In the Ethiopian immigrant group (both known and unknown HIV status), 11 deliveries (28%) were vaginal, 18 (46%) were elective cesarean section and 10 (26%) were delivered by emergency cesarean section. Of the 26 known HIV+ Ethiopian women, 3 (12%) refused to take antiretroviral treatment despite repeated counseling. In the non-Ethiopian group, all deliveries were elective cesarean sections. Mother to child transmission of HIV occurred in 4 of the total 45 deliveries (8.8%). Of the 4 transmission cases, 2 occurred among 40 deliveries of known HIV+ women (5%), and 2 occurred among the 5 deliveries of women not aware of being HIV+ (40%, P = 0.05). In the group of Ethiopian women only, HIV transmission occurred in 4 of 39 deliveries (10%), of which 2 occurred among 34 deliveries (5.8%) of women know to be HIV+ and 2 among 5 deliveries (40%) of women not aware of being HIV+ (P = 0.08).

Pregnant Ethiopian immigrants whose HIV status was known during pregnancy were at relatively high risk of HIV transmission despite the availability of antiretroviral drugs and counseling. This is likely due to inadequate adherence to ART[2] preventive regimens and is not dissimilar to the poor adherence observed among other immigrant groups in western countries. The substantial proportion of women, all Ethiopians, unaware of being HIV+ at delivery, together with the significantly higher HIV transmission in that group compared to women who knew their HIV status, call for a revision of the current Ministry of Health opt-in policy for prenatal HIV screening.


[1] HIV = human immunodeficiency virus

[2] ART = antiretroviral therapy

G. Katz, R. Durst, E. Shufman, R. Bar-Hamburger and L. Grunhaus

Background: The co-morbidity rate of illicit substance abuse and major mental problems in Israel is far from clear.

Objectives: To investigate the extent of drug abuse in a sample of psychiatric patients hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital and in the psychiatric department of a general hospital in Israel, to compare demographic and other background factors in dual-diagnosis patients with those of abuse-free mental inpatients, and to examine the time correlation between drug abuse and the appearance of major mental problems.

Methods: Our data were derived from self-report and urine tests. The study population comprised 470 consecutively admitted patients – 250 patients in the mental health center and 220 patients in the psychiatric department of the general hospital.

Results: The lifetime prevalence of drug abuse was 24%; cannabis abuse was found in 19.7%, opiates in 5.7%, cocaine in 2.7%, amphetamines in 3.4% and methamphetamine in 1.1%. Active abuse of drugs (during the last month) was registered in 17.3%, cannabis in 11.5%, opiates in 4.9%, amphetamine in 3.8%, cocaine in 1.3% and methamphetamine in 1.1%. We also found that 28.2% of active abusers used two or more substances. In 41.6% the drug abuse appeared prior to symptoms of the mental disorder; in 37.1% the duration of the mental disorders and the drug abuse was relatively similar, and in 21.3% of cases the duration of mental problems was longer than the duration of drug abuse. Dual-diagnosis patients were younger than non-abusers, more often male, unmarried, and of western origin.

Conclusions: Substance abuse (especially cannabis) among hospitalized psychiatric patients in Israel is a growing problem.

A. Neville, R. Peleg, Y. Singer, M. Sherf and P. Shvartzman

Background: The prevalence of chronic pain in the general population ranges from 10% to over 40%, depending on the definition and the population studied. No large study has been conducted in Israel.

Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of patients with chronic pain, and characterize them in a large community random sample.

Methods: We conducted a survey of Clalit Health Services members, interviewing them by phone. A random sample of 4063 Clalit members, 25 years or older and Hebrew speakers, were screened for chronic pain, defined as: any pain or discomfort that in the last 6 months has persisted continuously or intermittently for more than 3 months.

Results: Eight percent (n=325) refused to participate. Of the 3738 included in the study, 1722 (46%) reported chronic pain in at least one site. Most of the patients were over 50 years old (62%) (mean age 56 ± 16, range 27–97 years). Women suffered significantly more than men, as did those who were older, less educated and born in Israel and Eastern Europe. Prevalent painful sites were the back (32%), limbs (17%) and head (13%). More than a third reported severe pain and impaired life activities. Only 4.8% of the patients suffering from chronic pain were referred to pain specialists and 11% used complementary medicine. A logistic regression model showed that women and patients with lower education level were the only significant variables predicting higher life impact index and higher pain severity.

Conclusions: We found a high prevalence of chronic pain in the study population. Chronic pain causes severe disturbance to quality of life. A low rate of referral to pain specialists and complementary medicine was observed.

J. Mergui, D. Raveh MD, J-L. Golmard, A. Fuer, C. Gropp and S. Jaworowski

Background: General hospital staff are often required to care for physically ill patients who arouse concern regarding risk of harm to themselves or others. Some of these patients will receive one-to-one "constant observation." This is the first Israeli study of general hospital patients with high risk behavior.

Objectives: To examine a population of general hospital patients whose behavioral management required the use of constant observation. Demographic and clinical parameters including physical diagnoses were examined, and risk factors for constant observation were identified. The findings of this study were compared to findings in previous studies.

Methods: This prospective observational study examined 714 inpatients referred for psychiatric consultation; 150 were found to require constant observation, and 156 who did not served as a control group.

Results: In this study younger age, suicidal concerns and alcohol/substance abuse were identified as risk factors for ordering constant observation. Ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the only physical diagnoses found to be significantly correlated with a longer duration of observation, regardless of admission duration. Constant observation was less frequently used in the management of organic brain syndrome patients in this study compared to other studies.  

Conclusions: Some of our results (predictive factors for constant observation) confirmed the findings of overseas studies. Our finding that a diagnosis of organic brain syndrome was not a predictive factor for constant observation was unexpected and requires further investigation. The correlation between a diagnosis of ischemic heart disease or COPD[1] and duration of observation has not been reported previously and warrants further studies.  

[1] COPD = chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

R. J. Heruti, A. Steinvil, T. Shochat, N. Saar, N. Mashav, Y. Arbel and D. Justo

Background: Erectile dysfunction is associated with treatable cardiovascular risk factors; therefore, screening for erectile dysfunction and its cardiovascular risk factors is of clinical importance.

Objectives: To detect erectile dysfunction cases and assess their severity among military personnel.

Methods: The Sexual Health Inventory for Men questionnaire was handed out to military personnel aged 25–55 years during routine examinations.

Results: A total of 19,131 men, with a mean age of 34.0 ± 7.1 years, participated in routine physical examinations during the years 2001–2005. More than half of them (n=9956, 52%) completed the SHIM[1] questionnaire. No significant differences were found between those who completed the SHIM questionnaire and those who did not, in terms of mean age, mean body mass index, and prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors. One out of every four men (25.2%) suffered from erectile dysfunction, which was mild in 18.9%, mild to moderate in 4.4%, moderate in 1.1% , and severe in 0.7%. Even though treatable cardiovascular risk factors were quite prevalent in the study group (45.2% of them suffered from dyslipidemia, 25.6% smoked, 4.2% suffered from essential hypertension, and 1.6% from diabetes mellitus), erectile dysfunction was significantly associated with age and diabetes mellitus alone (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: There is a high prevalence of erectile dysfunction and associated treatable cardiovascular risk factors in Israeli men aged 25–55, especially those with diabetes. 

[1] SHIM = Sexual Health Inventory for Men

P. Rozen, Z. Levi, R. Hazazi, I. Barnes-Kedar, Z. Samuel, A. Vilkin and Y. Niv

Background: Dedicated, organ-specific screening clinics have been shown to significantly reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.

Objectives: To establish a dedicated clinic for Clalit Health Service patients at high risk for hereditary gastrointestinal cancer and to provide them with clinical and genetic counseling, diagnostic screening and follow–up.

Results: During the 3 years of the clinic's activity, 634 high risk families, including 3804 at-risk relatives, were evaluated. The most common conditions were hereditary colorectal syndromes, Lynch syndrome (n=259), undefined young-onset or familial colorectal cancer (n=214), familial adenomatous polyposis (n=55), and others (n=106). They entered follow-up protocols and 52 underwent surgical procedures.

Conclusions: Consistent public and professional education is needed to increase awareness of hereditary colorectal cancer and the possibility of family screening, early diagnosis and therapy. The public health services – i.e., the four health management organizations – should provide genetic testing for these patients who, at present, are required to pay for almost all of these available but costly tests. Dedicated colorectal surgical units are needed to provide the specialized therapeutic procedures needed by patients with familial colorectal cancer. Our future plans include adding psychosocial support for these at-risk patients and their families as well as preventive lifestyle and dietary intervention. 

A. Kesler, L. Berkner, M. Sadeh, R. Levite and D. Varssano

Background: Ocular hypotony is a common unexplained feature of myotonic dystrophy type 1. Spuriously low applanation tonometric readings can be caused by thin corneas, flat corneal curvature and corneal edema.

Objectives: To determine whether structure abnormalities of the cornea cause spuriously low readings in applanation tonometry.

Methods: We utilized a TMS-2N corneal topographer, a NonconRobo SP-6000 Specular microscope and a Corneo-Gage Plus 1A Pachymeter to examine seven patients with DM1[1] and eight healthy controls. Intraocular pressure, central corneal thickness, and endothelial cell density were measured, and simulated keratometry readings were made. Cornea guttata and irregularity of corneal topography patterns were also sought.

Results: The mean intraocular pressure was 9.86 ± 1.29 mmHg for all patients (intraocular operated and non‑operated eyes) and 12.88 ± 1.89 mmHg for the controls (P = 0.000021, two-tailed t-test). Central corneal thickness was 530.57 ± 35.30 micron for all patients and 535.00 ± 39.62 micron for the controls (P = 0.75, two-tailed t-test). Endothelial cell density was 3164 ± 761 cells/mm2 for all patients and 3148 ± 395 cells/mm2 for the controls (P = 0.94, two-tailed t-test). Simulated keratometry readings were similar in both groups when the operated eyes were excluded. Cornea guttata and irregularity of corneal topography patterns were also noted in the study group.

Conclusions: Corneal thickness, corneal curvature and corneal hydration were within normal limits and thus were not the cause for the low applanation tonometry reading in DM1. The presence of cornea guttata and irregularity of corneal topography patterns in DM1 warrants further investigation. 

[1] DM1 = myotonic dystrophy type 1

A. Roguin, S. Abadi, E. Ghersin, A. Engel, R. Beyar and S. Rispler

Background: Multi-detector computed tomography has advanced enormously and now enables non-invasive evaluation of coronary arteries as well as cardiac anatomy, function and perfusion. However, the role of cardiac MDCT[1] is not yet determined in the medical community and, consequently, many clinically unnecessary scans are performed solely on a self-referral basis.

Objectives: To prospectively evaluate the role of a cardiologist consultation and recommendation prior to the scan, and the influence on the diagnostic yield of cardiac MDCT.

Methods: In our center, a CT service was initiated, but with the prerequisite approval of a cardiologist before performance of the CT. Each individual who wanted and was willing to pay for a cardiac CT was interviewed by an experienced cardiologist who determined whether cardiac MDCT was the most appropriate next test in the cardiovascular evaluation. Subjects were classified into three groups: a) those with a normal or no prior stress test, no typical symptoms and no significant risk factors of coronary artery disease were recommended to perform a stress test or to remain under close clinical follow-up without MDCT; b) those with an equivocal stress test, atypical symptoms and/or significant risk factors were allowed to have cardiac MDCT; and c) those with positive stress test or clinically highly suspected CAD[2] were advised to go directly to invasive coronary angiography. CT findings were categorized as normal CAD (normal calcium score and no narrowings), < 50% and > 50% CAD.

Results: A total of 254 people were interviewed, and in only 39 cases did the cardiologist approve the CT. However, 61 of the 215, despite our recommendation not to undergo CT, decided to have the scan. Assessment of the 100 cases that underwent MDCT showed a statistically significant better discrimination of significant CAD, according to the cardiologist’s recommendation: MDCT not recommended in 3/54 (6%) vs. MDCT recommended in 12/39 (31%) vs. recommended invasive coronary angiography in 4/7 (57%) (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Detection of coronary calcification, as well as MDCT angiography can provide clinically useful information if applied to suitable patient groups. It is foreseeable that MDCT angiography will become part of the routine workup in some subsets of patients with suspected CAD. Selection of patients undergoing MDCT scans by a cardiologist improves the ability of the test to stratify patients, preventing unnecessary scans in both high and low risk patients

[1] MDCT = multi-detector computed tomography

[2] CAD = coronary artery disease

A. Blachar, G. Levi, M. Graif and J.acob Sosna

Background: Computed tomographic colonography, also known as virtual colonoscopy, is a rapid, non-invasive imaging technique for the detection of colorectal masses and polyps that is becoming increasingly popular.

Objectives: To evaluate the availability, technique, standards of performance and indications for CT colonography in Israel.

Methods: A questionnaire on CT colonography was sent to all radiology departments and private institutions that perform CTC[1] in Israel. We evaluated multiple technical parameters regarding the performance and interpretation of CTC as well as radiologists' training and experience.

Results: Fourteen institutions – 7 hospitals and 7 private clinics – participated in the study. Most of the small radiology departments and nearly all of the more peripheral radiology departments do not perform CTC studies. Since 2000 and until March 2007, a total of 15,165 CTC studies were performed but only 14% (2123 examinations) were performed at public hospitals and 86% (13,042 exams) at private clinics. CTC was performed after an incomplete colonoscopy or for various contraindications to endoscopic colonoscopy in up to a third of cases. In the various institutions patients were self-referred in 20–60% of cases, more commonly in private clinics. All CTC examinations were performed on 16–64 slice CT scanners and only a small minority was performed on 4-slice scanners in 2001. All but one center used low radiation protocols. Nearly all facilities used a 2 day bowel-cleansing protocol. All except one facility did not use stool tagging or computer-aided diagnosis. All facilities inflated the colon with room air manually. All institutions used state-of-the-art workstations, 3D and endoluminal navigation, and coronal multi-planar reconstructions routinely. There are 18 radiologists in the country who perform and interpret CTC studies; half of them trained abroad. Ten of the radiologists (56%) have read more than 500 CTC studies.

Conclusions: In Israel, CTC examinations are performed by well-trained and highly experienced radiologists using the latest CT scanners and workstations and adhering to acceptable CTC guidelines.  

[1] CTC = computed tomographic colonography

D. Hershkovitz and E. Sprecher

For centuries skin pigmentation has played a major societal role. Genetic disorders of skin pigmentation have therefore always evoked the curiosity of both laypersons and physicians. Normal skin pigmentation is a complex process that begins with the synthesis of melanin within the melanocytes, followed by its transfer to neighboring keratinocytes where it is translocated to the upper pole of the nucleus and degraded as the keratinocyte undergoes terminal differentiation. Mutations in various genes involved in melanocyte migration during embryogenesis, melanin synthesis and melanosomal function and transfer have been shown to cause pigmentation disorders. In the present review, we discuss normal skin pigmentation and the genetic underpinning of selected disorders of hypo- and hyperpigmentation.

L. Keinan-Boker, L. Lerner-Geva, B. Kaufman and D. Meirow

The frequency of pregnancy-associated breast cancer, a rare but serious occurrence, may increase in light of the secular trends for lower parity in general and for an older age at first full-term delivery in particular. Data on PABC[1] in individuals who are at high risk for breast cancer are limited. A computerized search of PUBMED showed that the reported incidence of PABC is 1:3000 pregnancies; it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and its prognosis is inferior compared to non-PABC. Carriers of mutations in the genes BRCA1/2 may present a specific high risk group for PABC especially at younger ages. Women treated with fertility treatment drugs may be at a higher risk for PABC as well.  

[1] PABC = pregnancy-associated breast cancer

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