Review Articles

Jan 012012
 
ACP advises against universal DVT/PE prophylaxis! "Quality" quagmire thickens (Guideline/Review, Ann Intern Med)

Daunted by the seeming impossibility of measuring and comparing hospitals on real outcomes (given our primitive state of data collection and heterogeneity in patient populations, among many other challenges), well-meaning bureaucrats and non-profiteering safety advocates like the Institute for Healthcare Improvement have created directives based on surrogate measures in an attempt to standardize and improve [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

This nice (and brief) review article on interpreting elevated troponin levels can be summed up by its quote from cardiologist Robert Jesse: “When troponin was a lousy assay it was a great test, but now that it’s becoming a great assay, it’s getting to be a lousy test.” Troponin abnormality is set at the 99th [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

Air Travel for Patients with Lung Disease (BTS Recommendations) Some interesting facts, figures, and recommendations on air travel for those with chronic lung disease, thanks to Ahmedzai et al who produced this 32 page document for the British Thoracic Society: At 8,000 feet in a commercial aircraft, you’re breathing 15% O2, and normal people’s SpO2 [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

After receiving hundreds of postmarketing adverse event reports of suicidal thoughts or behaviors (and 32 completed suicides) associated with smoking cessation drug varenicline (Chantix), the FDA slapped a black box warning on the med in 2009 and commissioned two large retrospective observational studies totaling more than 40,000 patients starting either varenicline (Chantix) or nicotine replacement. [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

Severe sepsis makes the heart irritable, probably due to all the evil humors and increased cardiac demand. Between 6-20% of patients with severe sepsis develop atrial fibrillation for the first time; that’s old news. What’s been unclear is what new-onset atrial fibrillation in severe sepsis means: is it an expected, yeah-so-what marker of critical illness, [… read more]

Jan 012012
 

Ultrasound is the future. It’s even better than that: it’s the present. So say proponents Seth Koenig, Mangala Narasimhan and pioneer & innovator Paul Mayo in this month’s CHEST review. They endorse a “paradigm shift” meaning, in effect, you get professionally trained on this highly versatile, effective, and immediate-results-providing modality and integrate it into your routine [… read more]

Dec 262011
 

Walkey et al combined 8 randomized trials including 1,641 people with MRSA pneumonia, and found no significant differences between those treated with linezolid or vancomycin in survival, resolution of clinical pneumonia, eradication from sputum of MRSA, or adverse events. Authors dispute linezolid’s supposedly higher lung penetration, pointing out that that dogma evolved from studies of healthy people; [… read more]

Dec 262011
 

Chong J et al review the 23 placebo-randomized trials of just-FDA-approved roflumilast and its sister cilomilast, the oral phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors. The overall mean improvements in quality of life (1 point on the SGRQ scale) and lung function (46 mL of FEV1) were tiny. The drugs did significantly reduce exacerbations with an odds ratio of 0.78 — as [… read more]

Dec 262011
 

Moores LK et al. Current Approach to the Diagnosis of Acute Nonmassive Pulmonary Embolism. CHEST 2011;140:509-518.  Review. Where is the best area under the curve, or the “overdiagnosis sweet spot?” It seems no approach gets us off the hook as we seek to avoid anticoagulating people without PEs (without missing any, of course): CT-angiography  is more sensitive [… read more]

Dec 102011
 

Severe sepsis has had a 35-45% mortality rate in clinical trials. Gagan Kumar et al use national observational data to suggest that while population rates of severe sepsis are increasing, survival has likely improved, with mortality falling from 39% to 27%, 2000-2007. However, most of the new survivors are not going home, but rather to [… read more]

Nov 162011
 

Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension is a “new” condition (in terms of our recognition and understanding of it), whose true prevalence, natural history, and response to therapies continue to be elucidated. Meanwhile, specialized surgical centers continually make thromboendarterectomy safer, providing definitive cures that are nothing short of miraculous for those affected by this otherwise usually fatal [… read more]

Nov 122011
 

Intracranial hemorrhage is a subject neuro-intensivists spend years learning about and refining their knowledge and skills on. A few key points: Myocardial “stunning” with depressed ejection fraction and pulmonary edema should be expected, due to a form of tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy, most commonly in subarachnoid hemorrhage. It’s not due to ischemia and gets better over weeks. [… read more]

Nov 112011
 

Obesity may impose extra burdens on critical care staff (think turning, transport, intubation and central line placement), but reviews suggest people with “ordinary” obesity (BMI 30-39) with have the same mortality from critical illness as overweight or healthy-weight people. In fact, obese people may have a survival advantage, despite possible longer durations of mechanical ventilation and ICU stays. But what about extreme obesity (BMI > [… read more]