Tag: 20/7/21

CT Scans Improve Outcomes for Concussion Patients

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A study found that CT scans for concussion patients provide crucial information on their risk for long-term impairment and their potential to make a complete recovery, and points to the need for more follow-up.

In the UC San Francisco-led study, researchers examined CT scans of 1935 patients, aged 17 and over, whose neurological exams met criteria for concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). Outcomes for moderate and severe TBI have been linked to CT imaging features, but this may be the first time this link has been identified in patients with concussion. This contradicts previous research which had found no prognostic significance of specific types of CT abnormalities.

“Radiologists who routinely read trauma scans know intuitively that patterns of intracranial injury on CT are not random,” said first author Esther Yuh, MD, PhD, of the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. “We showed there are patterns of injury, that some of these are associated with worse outcome than others, and that they provide a window into mechanisms of injury that is reproducible across large studies.”

The study was published online in JAMA Neurology.

“Although concussions are referred to as mild traumatic brain injuries, there is nothing mild about some concussions,” explained senior author Geoffrey Manley, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair of neurological surgery at UCSF and chief of neurosurgery at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. “Patients with concussion may suffer from prolonged headache, poor sleep and impaired concentration, and they are at higher risk of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Concussion can also contribute to depression and anxiety, and increase the risk for suicide. We need to view concussion not as an event but as a disease requiring physician follow-up after a patient is discharged from the hospital.”

The participants were enrolled by the brain injury research initiative TRACK-TBI, of which Manley is the principal investigator. To enrich the number of so-called complicated concussions, the researchers drew exclusively from patients who had been seen at hospitals with level 1 trauma centres. This meant 37 percent of study participants had a positive CT, significantly more than the 9 percent of positive CTs from patients in US emergency departments.

The most common patterns of injury, affecting more than half of CT-positive patients, were combinations of subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), subdural haematoma (SDH), and/or contusion, which may be caused by injuries such as falls from standing. About 7 percent had intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH) or petechial haemorrhage, caused by head rotation as in some sporting, scooter and automobile accidents; and 5 percent had epidural haematoma (EDH), often seen in sports injuries such as being hit with a baseball.

Average age of the patients was 41 and 66 percent were male. They were followed-up at two weeks, and at three-, six- and 12 months following injury. Patients in the SAH/SDH/contusion group failed to make a complete recovery at 12 months post-injury and had a range of outcome impairments, from mild to more severe.

Patients in the IVH/petechial haemorrhage group tended toward more severe impairments, in the lower-moderate disability range, a level potentially affecting multiple areas of function, such as employment, social and leisure activities, up to 12 months post-injury. Patients with EDH fared significantly better and demonstrated complete recovery by their six-month assessment.

Results from CENTER-TBI, a parallel brain injury research group that had enrolled 2594 participants at European trauma centres. validated the findings. “The confirmation of the findings in an independent cohort confirms the fidelity of our results,” said Manley, adding that patients with EDH were one exception, with incomplete recovery lingering for months longer than those patients followed by TRACK-TBI. However, more severe outcomes were not seen at any point in either study.

The researchers noted that even among concussion patients with positive CT scans, only 39 percent get follow-up care, which should be routine. They also cautioned that their findings are not a call for increased CT use, which has radiation dose concerns and is restricted to known or suspected concussions.

Indeed, a recently approved rapid hand-held blood test may reduce the amount of CT scans. Manley found this test was more sensitive than CT in detecting concussion. The blood test measures biomarkers associated with TBI, which were nearly 52 times higher in MRI-identified concussion patients than in healthy participants.

In addition to challenging the belief that CT features in concussion are not relevant, the researchers are also challenging the idea that concussion is “what the patient brings to the injury,” said Manley, who is also affiliated with the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “In moderate and severe TBI, it is anecdotally taught that outcome is determined by ‘what the injury brings to the patient,’ while concussion is determined by baseline characteristics like age, sex and years of education. While the study confirms the importance of these characteristics, we show that in some concussion cases, poor outcomes are also attributed to ‘what the injury brings to the patient.'”

Source: University of California, San Francisco

Journal information: Yuh EL et al., Pathological computed tomography features associated with adverse outcomes after mild traumatic brain injury, JAMA Neurology, July 19, 2021.

Internal Body Sensing Ability Varies with Age

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A Chinese study has found that the ability to sense nervous signals such as heartbeat varies with age, peaking in young adulthood, but does not seem to be associated with autism.

Interoception is the ability to process and integrate internal signals originating from one’s body, such as heartbeats and breathing patterns. This ability is important for maintaining homeostasis. Recent findings have suggested that autism spectrum disorders are associated with a wide range of sensory integration impairments including interoceptive accuracy.

However, it is still not clear whether individuals with subclinical features of autism, which only moderately impact daily life, also exhibit similar impairments in interoceptive accuracy. It is also not clear how interoceptive ability and its association with autistic traits varies with age.

In order to address this issue, Dr Raymond Chan’s team from the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has developed an innovative paradigm involving eye-tracking measures to examine the multidimensional interoception and autistic traits in different age groups.

In so doing, they recruited 114 healthy university students aged 19–22 and explored the correlations among autistic traits and interoceptive accuracy using an “Eye-tracking Interoceptive Accuracy Task” (EIAT), which presents two bouncing shapes and requires participants to look at the one whiches bounces in time with their heartbeat.

Since this task requires no verbal report or button-pressing, it enables the exploration of interoceptive accuracy in preschool children and individuals with psychiatric disorders or speech impairments.

However, while autistic traits correlated significantly with the ability to describe and express emotion (alexithymia) but not with the different dimensions of interoception such as interoceptive accuracy (performance of interoceptive ability on behavioural tests), interoceptive sensibility (subjective sensitivity to internal sensations on self-report questionnaires) and interoceptive awareness (personal insight into interoceptive aptitude).

They then recruited 52 preschool children aged four to six, 50 adolescents aged 12–16 and 50 adults aged 23–54 to specifically examine the relationship of autistic traits and interoceptive accuracy across these three age groups. The researchers found that interoceptive accuracy evolves from childhood to early adulthood, and then declines with age. The highest average accuracy was seen in 12-16 year olds. The dataset showed that the developmental trajectory of interoceptive accuracy has a reverted U-shape trend peaking around early adulthood.

The findings suggest that interoceptive accuracy significantly differs between typically-developing preschool children, adolescents and adults. The study also highlights the need for future study into preschool children with suspected autism spectrum disorders.

Source: Medical Xpress

A Report of Two Sequential Cases of Facial Palsy after COVID Vaccines

The case of a patient who experienced two facial palsies, both immediately after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, strongly suggests that they are linked to the vaccine, wrote in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

The case report of two separate unilateral facial nerve palsies, where muscles on one side of the face become weak or paralysed, occurring shortly after each dose of a COVID vaccine, is the first in medical literature.

“The occurrence of the episodes immediately after each vaccine dose strongly suggests that the Bell’s palsy was attributed to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, although a causal relationship cannot be established,” the authors said.

Single episodes of unilateral facial nerve palsies were reported in the initial clinical trials of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford/Astra Zeneca and there have been subsequent case reports.

In phase 3 trials, four cases of facial palsy of unknown cause (Bell’s palsy) were reported in volunteers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine and none in the placebo group, and three cases were reported in volunteers who received the Moderna mRNA vaccine compared with one in the placebo group. Three cases of facial nerve palsy were also reported in volunteers who received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and there were three cases in the placebo group.

This case report describes a 61-year-old Caucasian male with no previous history of facial nerve palsy who experienced an episode of Bell’s palsy on the right side of his face five hours after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and a more severe episode of Bell’s palsy on the left side of his face two days after receiving the second dose. The patient had a high BMI, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia and type 2 diabetes.

After the first episode, the patient went to the emergency department, with incomplete eye closure and no forehead movement and was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. Blood tests and a CT head scan revealed no pathologies and he was discharged with a course of steroids, and the right-sided facial nerve palsy completely resolved.

Two days after his second shot, he developed a more severe left-sided facial nerve palsy. The symptoms included dribbling, difficulty swallowing and again, incomplete left eye closure. He went to the emergency department, where he was again prescribed a course of steroids. He was also referred to an emergency Ear Nose and Throat clinic, which continued the steroids and referred him to ophthalmology.

The authors reported that the patient is almost back to normal. “The patient has been advised to discuss future mRNA vaccines with the GP on a case-by-case basis, taking into account risk versus benefit of having each vaccine,” they said.

Bell’s palsy is believed to be related to facial nerve inflammation and oedema from viral infection. In 2004 the inactivated intranasal influenza vaccine was shown to significantly increase the risk of Bell’s palsy and was discontinued. Increased incidence of Bell’s palsy has also been seen following administration of other influenza and meningococcal vaccines. The annual incidence is 15 to 20 per 100 000 and the lifetime risk is 1 in 60, with an 8% to 12% recurrence rate.

While most cases of Bell’s palsy recover on their own over time, the symptoms can cause significant temporary disability, affecting facial expression and eating and drinking. Risk factors for the condition include diabetes, obesity, hypertension, pregnancy, pre-eclampsia and upper respiratory disease.

Source: EurekAlert!

Tshwane Hospital, Left Unscathed by Unrest, Continues the COVID Fight

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Amidst the unrest which badly disrupted the provision of healthcare in many areas, Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital was one of the lucky Gauteng metros left unscathed.

The hospital’s Acting CEO Dr Keneilwe Letebele said that protests did not extend as far as Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, which left the healthcare facility untouched by the violence and looting.

“Up until now, our hospital has not been adversely affected, possibly because there were not much protest marches happening in our vicinity,” said Dr Letebele.

Being out of the thick of the protests let the hospital remain focussed on dealing with COVID cases. Lessons they had learnt from the first two waves had helped them mitigate the high number of fatalities in the third waves.

“The situation is quite challenging but we have learnt some valuable lessons from the first and second wave experiences regardless of some differences.

“These lessons have helped us to adapt to the situation. What is important is that when the first wave engulfed us, it was a first experience for everyone but now we know what to expect and how to address some challenges,” she said.

Dr Letebele noted that they have 60 additional beds at their newly-built Alternative Building Technology (ABT) unit, which adds to the existing 280 beds dedicated to COVID.

However, the high number of healthcare workers testing positive for COVID had left them short of staff.

“Capacity is reduced due to staff being COVID positive. However, the department has increased the number of staff to manage the surge (in cases),” she said.

Meanwhile, Vuyo Mhaga, the spokesperson for Gauteng Premier David Makhura, said scientists have warned that although COVID numbers were beginning to fall in the province, it was not enough – and it might even reverse given current events.

“The province is concerned that there might be a change in the downward trajectory of new infections due to recent protest action.

“Daily new infections remain very high. Some of those infected do require hospital care. These protests might cause the province to take longer to flatten the curve,” said Mhaga.

Meanwhile, health bodies including the South African African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) have issued a joint statement warning against using looted medications.

“We would like to urge the public not to utilise any medicines that are not accessed through authorised health care institutions. You may report such illegal activity to SAHPRA or to law enforcement agencies,” the medical bodies said.

They also said that looting and violence from the unrest only worsened the COVID pandemic and set back the provision of equitable healthcare.

“We appeal to citizens looting and destroying the healthcare infrastructure and disrupting the provision of health care to consider the long-term consequences of their actions on the health of communities.

“Without health care services, the requisite medicines and vaccines, we will have unnecessary deaths and cause further pandemonium, including severe damage to the economy,” the bodies said.

Source: IOL

Child Mask Study Which Reported High CO2 Levels Retracted

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A study which generated controversy by suggesting that masks may harm children through exposure to high carbon dioxide levels was retracted on Friday.

The research letter released in JAMA Pediatrics on June 30 had reported finding in a lab environment unacceptably high levels of CO2 by German standards in air inside masks worn by children.

The journal editors cited “numerous scientific issues” in the retraction notice, which also included questions over the applicability of the CO2 measurement device and the validity of the study’s conclusions.

“In their invited responses to these and other concerns, the authors did not provide sufficiently convincing evidence to resolve these issues, as determined by editorial evaluation and additional scientific review,” the notice read. “Given fundamental concerns about the study methodology, uncertainty regarding the validity of the findings and conclusions, and the potential public health implications, the editors have retracted this Research Letter.”

The study drew prompt criticism following its publication. Joseph Allen, MPH, DSc, who studies the impact of carbon dioxide on human health at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, described the study as “terribly flawed”, predicting its retraction on Twitter. He pointed out that the study made no account of the flood of air taken in when children inhale, his key complaint.

The US Centers for Disease Control do not list any known risk wearing facing masks poses to children, and in fact, recently recommended that unvaccinated children wear masks when school reopen later this year. A previous study with adult volunteers had shown short-term but acceptable rises in CO2 when wearing masks,

While many areas of the US have dropped mask mandates, Los Angeles is reinstating its indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status as COVID cases and hospitalisations rise, presumably due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Source: MedPage Today