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PACS for the Developing World

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 2:00pm

Digital imaging is now firmly ensconced in the developed world. Its widespread adoption has enabled instant access to images, remote viewing, remote consultation, and the end of lost or misplaced film. Unfortunately, the current paradigm of Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), with advanced technology inseparable from high complexity, high purchase costs, and high maintenance costs, is not suited for the low-income developing world. Like the simple, easy to repair, 1950’s American cars still running on the streets of Havana, the developing world requires a PACS (DW-PACS) that can perform basic functions and survive in a limited-resource environment. The purpose of this article is to more fully describe this concept and to present a blueprint for PACS tailored to the needs and resources of the developing world. This framework should assist both users looking for a vendor-supplied or open-source solutions and developers seeking to address the needs of this emerging market.

Using Village Health Teams for Effective Ultrasound Education in Rural Uganda

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 2:00pm

Maternal and child health conditions, many of which can be detected by ultrasound, represent the highest burden of disease in Uganda. Imaging the World (ITW) is a not-for-profit organization which integrates high quality, affordable ultrasound services into rural health facilities. Of all the challenges faced with implementation of ITW programs in Uganda, lack of sensitization to ultrasound represented the greatest barrier. The Village Health Team (VHT) is an existing public health “train the trainer” model sponsored by the Uganda Ministry of Health which provides public health training to community volunteers. Trained VHT members were recruited to help with ultrasound community outreach and education. These VHT members were successful in achieving dramatic community acceptance and increased utilization of ultrasound services in rural communities. This has led to significant contributions in improving population health in low-resource settings.

A Systematic Review of Oral Health Interventions to Reduce Disparities in Adults with Intellectual Disability: Results of a Novel Approach

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:21pm

Research consistently shows that people with I/DD experience poorer oral hygiene, higher prevalence and severity of periodontal disease, and higher incidence of untreated caries when compared to the general population. In a systematic review funded by the Centers for Disease Control (NCBDD), researchers rigorously evaluated evidence for a wide range of interventions that offer the potential to reduce those disparities. More than 4,000 titles/abstracts were identified from a literature search that included peer reviewed as well as gray literature. After criteria were applied to identify the I/DD population and intervention-studies only, the number of full text reviews was reduced to 125, and intervention categories were identified as follows: 1) sedation, appropriate use in the population; 2) education and behavioral interventions for treatment and prevention directed at individuals, caregivers and providers; 3) prevention strategies such as fluoride and chlorhexidine; and 4) access issues related to financing and funding. Researchers completed data extraction using a structured on-line tool, the Systematic Review Data Repository. The broad range of topic areas required researchers to include clinical experts in the structured review providing valuable input into the interpretation of findings, providing a measure of external validity for each reported study. A research methodologist accomplished a separate review of the studies’ internal validity, including design and statistical analyses. Results of the complimentary examinations of validity were included in the overall measure of the quality of each study and used in assigning a level of evidence to each study that was included for each topic.

Interventions to Improve Access and Health Behaviors in Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disability: A National Resource for Oral Health

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:20pm

The presentation will describe the process by which the systematic review, designed to uncover interventions to reduce oral health disparities in individuals with intellectual and developmental disability, was conducted, along with the search strategy, interventions and outcomes measured. The presentation will convey the evidence base and promising practices for access, behavior, and prevention to generate discussion among researchers, clinicians and policy makers, about future study topics.

Post-mortem genetic testing in a family with long-QT syndrome and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

Pediatric sudden unexplained deaths are rare and tragic events that should be evaluated with all the tools available to the medical community. The current state of genetic testing is an excellent resource that improves our ability to diagnose cardiovascular disorders that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Post-mortem genetic testing is not typically a covered benefit of health insurance and may not be offered to families in the setting of a negative autopsy. This unusual case includes two separate cardiovascular disorders that highlight the use of genetic testing and its role in diagnosis, screening, and risk stratification. The insurance company's decision to cover post-mortem testing demonstrated both compassion as well as an understanding of the long-term cost effectiveness.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: analysis of ALS cases in a predominantly admixed population of Ecuador

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

Recent studies suggest amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) prevalence, incidence, and age of onset are heterogeneous across populations. These include studies from South America (SA) where lower prevalence, earlier onset, and reduced survival time of ALS are reported. However, the scarcity of epidemiological and clinical data confounds effective comparison. To investigate ALS incidence in the predominantly admixed population of Ecuador, we analyzed patient data. We analyzed case data from two major hospitals. To confirm diagnosis, we evaluated clinical and EMG examinations in a cohort of patients. For 2000-2012, we found 116 patients with ALS diagnosis in the two hospitals. Crude incidence was 0.2-0.6 per 100,000. Median age of onset was 54.3 (+ 15.06 SD). Clinical re-evaluation found misdiagnosis in three cases in the cohort. In conclusion, ALS incidence in the Ecuadorian hospital population is in accord with rates reported in recent studies for other admixed populations, and lower than that in the United States and Europe. Our study found that appropriate EMG administration and interpretation for the purposes of supporting a diagnosis of ALS with current consensus guidelines prevent adequate use of this test as an essential tool in the evaluation and diagnosis of ALS. Training for required standardization in Ecuador is recommended.

The systolic blood pressure difference between arms and cardiovascular disease in the Framingham Heart Study

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

BACKGROUND: An increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference is an easily determined physical examination finding. The relationship between interarm systolic blood pressure difference and risk of future cardiovascular disease is uncertain. We described the prevalence and risk factor correlates of interarm systolic blood pressure difference in the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) original and offspring cohorts and examined the association between interarm systolic blood pressure difference and incident cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.

METHODS: An increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference was defined as >/= 10 mm Hg using the average of initial and repeat blood pressure measurements obtained in both arms. Participants were followed through 2010 for incident cardiovascular disease events. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were performed to investigate the effect of interarm systolic blood pressure difference on incident cardiovascular disease.

RESULTS: We examined 3390 (56.3% female) participants aged 40 years and older, free of cardiovascular disease at baseline, mean age of 61.1 years, who attended a FHS examination between 1991 and 1994 (original cohort) and from 1995 to 1998 (offspring cohort). The mean absolute interarm systolic blood pressure difference was 4.6 mm Hg (range 0-78). Increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference was present in 317 (9.4%) participants. The median follow-up time was 13.3 years, during which time 598 participants (17.6%) experienced a first cardiovascular event, including 83 (26.2%) participants with interarm systolic blood pressure difference > /= 10 mm Hg. Compared with those with normal interarm systolic blood pressure difference, participants with an elevated interarm systolic blood pressure difference were older (63.0 years vs 60.9 years), had a greater prevalence of diabetes mellitus (13.3% vs 7.5%,), higher systolic blood pressure (136.3 mm Hg vs 129.3 mm Hg), and a higher total cholesterol level (212.1 mg/dL vs 206.5 mg/dL). Interarm systolic blood pressure difference was associated with a significantly increased hazard of incident cardiovascular events in the multivariable adjusted model (hazard ratio 1.38; 95% CI, 1.09-1.75). For each 1-SD-unit increase in absolute interarm systolic blood pressure difference, the hazard ratio for incident cardiovascular events was 1.07 (95% CI, 1.00-1.14) in the fully adjusted model. There was no such association with mortality (hazard ratio 1.02; 95% CI 0.76-1.38).

CONCLUSIONS: In this community-based cohort, an interarm systolic blood pressure difference is common and associated with a significant increased risk for future cardiovascular events, even when the absolute difference in arm systolic blood pressure is modest. These findings support research to expand clinical use of this simple measurement.

Rankings versus reality in pancreatic cancer surgery: a real-world comparison

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

BACKGROUND: Patients are increasingly confronted with systems for rating hospitals. However, the correlations between publicized ratings and actual outcomes after pancreatectomy are unknown.

METHODS: The Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy Hospital Inpatient Discharge Database was queried to identify pancreatic cancer resections carried out during 2005-2009. Hospitals performing fewer than 10 pancreatic resections in the 5-year period were excluded. Primary outcomes included mortality, complications, median length of stay (LoS) and a composite outcomes score (COS) combining primary outcomes. Ranks were determined and compared for: (i) volume, and (ii) ratings identified from consumer-directed hospital ratings including the US News and World Report (USN), Consumer Reports, Healthgrades and Hospital Compare. An inter-rater reliability analysis was performed and correlation coefficients (r) between outcomes and ratings, and between rating systems were calculated.

RESULTS: Eleven hospitals in which a total of 804 pancreatectomies were conducted were identified. Surgical volume correlated with overall outcome, but was not the strongest indicator. The highest correlation referred to that between USN rank and overall outcome. Mortality was most strongly correlated with Healthgrades ratings (r = 0.50); however, Healthgrades ratings demonstrated poorer correlations with all other outcomes. Consumer Reports ratings showed inverse correlations.

CONCLUSIONS: The plethora of publicly available hospital ratings systems demonstrates heterogeneity. Volume remains a good but imperfect indicator of surgical outcomes. Further systematic investigation into which measures predict quality outcomes in pancreatic cancer surgery will benefit both patients and providers.

Distinct cellular origin and genetic requirement of Hedgehog-Gli in postnatal rhabdomyosarcoma genesis

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

Dysregulation of the Hedgehog (Hh)-Gli signaling pathway is implicated in a variety of human cancers, including basal cell carcinoma (BCC), medulloblastoma (MB) and embryonal rhabdhomyosarcoma (eRMS), three principle tumors associated with human Gorlin syndrome. However, the cells of origin of these tumors, including eRMS, remain poorly understood. In this study, we explore the cell populations that give rise to Hh-related tumors by specifically activating Smoothened (Smo) in both Hh-producing and -responsive cell lineages in postnatal mice. Interestingly, we find that unlike BCC and MB, eRMS originates from the stem/progenitor populations that do not normally receive active Hh signaling. Furthermore, we find that the myogenic lineage in postnatal mice is largely Hh quiescent and that Pax7-expressing muscle satellite cells are not able to give rise to eRMS upon Smo or Gli1/2 overactivation in vivo, suggesting that Hh-induced skeletal muscle eRMS arises from Hh/Gli quiescent non-myogenic cells. In addition, using the Gli1 null allele and a Gli3 repressor allele, we reveal a specific genetic requirement for Gli proteins in Hh-induced eRMS formation and provide molecular evidence for the involvement of Sox4/11 in eRMS cell survival and differentiation.

Antitussives and substance abuse

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

Abuse of antitussive preparations is a continuing problem in the United States and throughout the world. Illicit, exploratory, or recreational use of dextromethorphan and codeine/promethazine cough syrups is widely described. This review describes the pharmacology, clinical effects, and management of toxicity from commonly abused antitussive formulations.

Fever in the pediatric patient

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

Fever is the most common reason that children and infants are brought to emergency departments. Emergency physicians face the challenge of quickly distinguishing benign from life-threatening conditions. The management of fever in children is guided by the patient's age, immunization status, and immune status as well as the results of a careful physical examination and appropriate laboratory tests and radiographic views. In this article, the evaluation and treatment of children with fevers of known and unknown origin are described. Causes of common and dangerous conditions that include fever in their manifestation are also discussed.

DNA immunization

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 1:41pm

DNA immunization was discovered in early 1990s, and its use has been expanded from vaccine studies to a broader range of biomedical research areas, such as the generation of high-quality polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies as research reagents. In this unit, three common DNA immunization methods are described: needle injection, electroporation, and gene gun. In addition, several common considerations related to DNA immunization are discussed.

UMCCTS Newsletter, November 2015

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:06am

This is the November 2015 issue of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science Newsletter containing news and events of interest.

Care that Matters: Quality Measurement and Health Care

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 9:04am

Barry Saver and colleagues caution against the use of process and performance metrics as health care quality measures in the United States.

Perceiving one's heart condition to be cured following hospitalization for acute coronary syndromes: Implications for patient-provider communication

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 2:26pm

OBJECTIVE: We examined the proportion of patients perceiving their heart condition to be cured following hospitalization for ACS and identified characteristics associated with these perceptions.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study of adults hospitalized with ACS (N=396). Patient interviews during hospitalization and one week post-discharge provided demographic and psychosocial characteristics. Medical records provided clinical characteristics. At one week, patients who rated "My heart condition is cured" as "definitely true" or "mostly true" were considered to perceive their heart condition cured.

RESULTS: Participants were aged 60.7 (SD:11.0) years, 26.5% female, and 89.0% non-Hispanic white; 16.7% had unstable angina, 59.6% NSTEMI, and 23.7% STEMI. One week post-discharge, 30.3% perceived their heart condition to be cured. Characteristics associated with cure perceptions were older age (OR=2.2; 95% CI: 1.2-4.0 for > /=65 years vs < 55 years), male sex (OR=2.4; 95%CI: 1.3-4.2), history of hypertension (OR=1.8; 95%CI: 1.1-3.1), history of stroke (OR=4.2; 95%CI: 1.1-16.7), no history of CHD (OR=2.8; 95%CI: 1.6-4.9), and receipt of CABG during hospitalization (OR=4.8, 95%CI: 1.9-12.0 vs medical management).

CONCLUSION: One week post-discharge, 3 in 10 patients perceived their heart condition to be cured.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Conversations with patients should frame ACS as a chronic disease and dispel cure perceptions.

A Gene Expression Signature That Correlates with CD8+ T Cell Expansion in Acute EBV Infection

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 2:26pm

Virus-specific CD8(+) T cells expand dramatically during acute EBV infection, and their persistence is important for lifelong control of EBV-related disease. To better define the generation and maintenance of these effective CD8(+) T cell responses, we used microarrays to characterize gene expression in total and EBV-specific CD8(+) T cells isolated from the peripheral blood of 10 individuals followed from acute infectious mononucleosis (AIM) into convalescence (CONV). In total CD8(+) T cells, differential expression of genes in AIM and CONV was most pronounced among those encoding proteins important in T cell activation/differentiation, cell division/metabolism, chemokines/cytokines and receptors, signaling and transcription factors (TF), immune effector functions, and negative regulators. Within these categories, we identified 28 genes that correlated with CD8(+) T cell expansion in response to an acute EBV infection. In EBV-specific CD8(+) T cells, we identified 33 genes that were differentially expressed in AIM and CONV. Two important TF, T-bet and eomesodermin, were upregulated and maintained at similar levels in both AIM and CONV; in contrast, protein expression declined from AIM to CONV. Expression of these TF varied among cells with different epitope specificities. Collectively, gene and protein expression patterns suggest that a large proportion, if not a majority of CD8(+) T cells in AIM are virus specific, activated, dividing, and primed to exert effector activities. High expression of T-bet and eomesodermin may help to maintain effector mechanisms in activated cells and to enable proliferation and transition to earlier differentiation states in CONV.

Modeling Epidemics Spreading on Social Contact Networks

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 9:09am

Social contact networks and the way people interact with each other are the key factors that impact on epidemics spreading. However, it is challenging to model the behavior of epidemics based on social contact networks due to their high dynamics. Traditional models such as susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) model ignore the crowding or protection effect and thus has some unrealistic assumption. In this paper, we consider the crowding or protection effect and develop a novel model called improved SIR model. Then, we use both deterministic and stochastic models to characterize the dynamics of epidemics on social contact networks. The results from both simulations and real data set conclude that the epidemics are more likely to outbreak on social contact networks with higher average degree. We also present some potential immunization strategies, such as random set immunization, dominating set immunization, and high degree set immunization to further prove the conclusion.

Specialization and utilization after hepatectomy in academic medical centers

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 2:16pm

BACKGROUND: Specialized procedures such as hepatectomy are performed by a variety of specialties in surgery. We aimed to determine whether variation exists among utilization of resources, cost, and patient outcomes by specialty, surgeon case volume, and center case volume for hepatectomy.

METHODS: We queried centers (n = 50) in the University Health Consortium database from 2007-2010 for patients who underwent elective hepatectomy in which specialty was designated general surgeon (n = 2685; 30%) or specialist surgeon (n = 6277; 70%), surgeon volume was designated high volume ( > 38 cases annually) and center volume was designated high volume ( > 100 cases annually). We then stratified our cohort by primary diagnosis, defined as primary tumor (n = 2241; 25%), secondary tumor (n = 5466; 61%), and benign (n = 1255; 14%).

RESULTS: Specialist surgeons performed more cases for primary malignancy (primary 26% versus 15%) while general surgeons operated more for secondary malignancies (67% versus 61%) and benign disease (18% versus 13%). Specialists were associated with a shorter total length of stay (LOS) (5 d versus 6 d; P < 0.01) and lower in-hospital morbidity (7% versus 11%; P < 0.01). Patients treated by high volume surgeons or at high volume centers were less likely to die than those treated by low volume surgeons or at low volume centers, (OR 0.55; 95% CI 0.33-0.89) and (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.13-0.56).

CONCLUSIONS: Surgical specialization, surgeon volume and center volume may be important metrics for quality and utilization in complex procedures like hepatectomy. Further studies are necessary to link direct factors related to hospital performance in the changing healthcare environment.

Epidemiology and outcomes of community-acquired Clostridium difficile infections in Medicare beneficiaries

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 2:16pm

BACKGROUND: The incidence of community-acquired Clostridium difficile (CACD) is increasing in the United States. Many CACD infections occur in the elderly, who are predisposed to poor outcomes. We aimed to describe the epidemiology and outcomes of CACD in a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries.

STUDY DESIGN: We queried a 5% random sample of Medicare beneficiaries (2009-2011 Part A inpatient and Part D prescription drug claims; n = 864,604) for any hospital admission with a primary ICD-9 diagnosis code for C difficile (008.45). We examined patient sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, preadmission exposure to oral antibiotics, earlier treatment with oral vancomycin or metronidazole, inpatient outcomes (eg, colectomy, ICU stay, length of stay, mortality), and subsequent admissions for C difficile.

RESULTS: A total of 1,566 (0.18%) patients were admitted with CACD. Of these, 889 (56.8%) received oral antibiotics within 90 days of admission. Few were being treated with oral metronidazole (n = 123 [7.8%]) or vancomycin (n = 13 [0.8%]) at the time of admission. Although 223 (14%) patients required ICU admission, few (n = 15 [1%]) underwent colectomy. Hospital mortality was 9%. Median length of stay among survivors was 5 days (interquartile range 3 to 8 days). One fifth of survivors were readmitted with C difficile, with a median follow-up time of 393 days (interquartile range 129 to 769 days).

CONCLUSIONS: Nearly half of the Medicare beneficiaries admitted with CACD have no recent antibiotic exposure. High mortality and readmission rates suggest that the burden of C difficile on patients and the health care system will increase as the US population ages. Additional efforts at primary prevention and eradication might be warranted.