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* Good luck to all still studing, I hope this help..
 #249131  
  aiissman - 12/05/07 10:54
 
  brainX Digital Learning System
Study Session of KnowledgeBase: Practice Exam 1

Record # 1

Question/Fact:

A 39-year-old Polish man comes to the clinic for painful calves after walking long distances and for discoloration of the fingers with changes in temperature. He says his symptoms started two months ago, and he gets no relief from the ibuprofen. He has previously been healthy. He currently smokes a pack a day and drinks socially. He has no history of drug abuse. On physical examination, his blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg, heart rate is 68/min, and he is afebrile. Examination of the hands reveals distal digital ischemia and trophic changes in the nails of both hands. Radial pulses are absent bilaterally, but all other pulses are present. His right calf shows evidence of a superficial thrombophlebitis. Laboratory studies show: white cell count 9,600/mm3, hematocrit 38.6%, MCV 89 μm3, ESR 40 mm/h, and C-ANCA as negative. The rheumatoid factor and ANA are negative. Which of the following should be done next for this patient?

(A) Heparin
(B) Prednisone
(C) Arterial bypass
(D) Cyclophosphamide
(E) Abstention from tobacco

Answer:

(E) Abstention from tobacco

Explanation:

This patient has thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger's disease), which is an inflammatory occlusive disorder involving small and medium-sized arteries and veins in the distal and upper extremities. The prevalence is highest in men of Eastern European descent under the age of 40. Although the cause is unknown, there is a definite relationship to cigarette smoking and an increased incidence of HLA-B5 and -A9 antigens in patients with this disorder. Clinical features of thromboangiitis obliterans often include a triad of claudication of the affected extremity, Raynaud's phenomenon, and migratory superficial thrombophlebitis. Claudication is confined to the lower calves and feet or forearms and hands because this disorder primarily affects the distal vessels. Hand examination can reveal severe digital ischemia, trophic nail changes, ulceration, and gangrene at the tips of the fingers. Brachial and popliteal pulses are usually present, but radial, ulnar, and/or tibial pulses may be absent. Smooth, tapering, segmental lesions in the distal vessels are present on angiography. The diagnosis can be confirmed by excisional biopsy of an involved vessel. There is no specific treatment, except abstention from tobacco. The prognosis is worse in those who continue to smoke, but results are relatively good in those who stop. C-ANCA antibodies are usually found in Wegener's granulomatosis. Arterial bypass may be indicated in disease confined to larger vessels. The hand abnormalities effectively exclude peripheral vascular disease. If these measures fail, amputation may be required. Cyclophosphamide and prednisone do not help. Again, the management is to stop smoking.
==============

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 2

Question/Fact:

A 25-year-old woman with Crohn's disease presents to your office with recurrent abdominal pain and diarrhea. She has been taking mesalamine 4 grams per day for the last year. Last fall, after developing diarrhea and pain, she was placed on prednisone 60 mg daily. She had a complete remission and, after a 3-month tapering of the prednisone, suffered a relapse. Prednisone was restarted 2 months ago at 60 mg daily, and now as the dose has decreased to 20 mg per day, the diarrhea has recurred. She is having 6 to 8 water stools per day, crampy pain, and some weight loss. What would be the best next step?

(A) Restart the prednisone and plan to maintain the dose at 40-60 mg indefinitely
(B) Restart the prednisone with 6-mercaptopurine and plan on prednisone taper in 2 months
(C) Stop the prednisone and add cyclosporine
(D) Admit to the hospital and give high-dose intravenous steroids to induce remission
(E) Stop the mesalamine and add methotrexate

Answer:

(B) Restart the prednisone with 6-mercaptopurine and plan on prednisone taper in 2 months

Explanation:

Prednisone is effective in treating active Crohn's disease for short durations (3-6 months). Long-term use for maintenance is not indicated. 6-Mercaptopurine and azathioprine are steroid-sparing medications used to limit the need for prednisone. Prednisone, like other corticosteroids, has numerous side effects and should only be used for treating active flares of disease, not maintenance of remission. Cyclosporine and methotrexate have limited roles in the management of Crohn's disease.


Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 3

Question/Fact:

A 65-year-old man presents to the emergency room with complaints of weakness, generalized swelling in his extremities, and right leg pain. At the time of presentation, he appears to be in moderate distress from the leg pain. The patient states that his symptoms started two days ago. The patient also has frequent urination and increased thirst. He states that he has felt weak for the past few months. Physical examination reveals a tender, erythematous, and swollen right calf. He also has 2+ pitting edema in all extremities. Blood pressure is 107/55 mm Hg, and temperature is 100.3 F. Venous ultrasound is positive for lower extremity deep vein thrombosis. Laboratory studies reveal:

White cell count 11,000/mm3; hematocrit 32.3%; platelets 105,000/mm3; K 4.0 mEq/L; BUN 24 mg/dL; creatinine 1.7 mg/dL. The PT/PTT are normal.

Total bilirubin 0.4 mg/dL, AST 28 U/L, albumin l.9 g/dL, cholesterol 326 mg/dL; triglycerides 425 mg/dL.

Urine dipstick shows protein 3+, hemoglobin 1+, white cells 1+; 24-hour urine shows 6.2 grams of protein.

What is the next step in the treatment of this patient?

(A) Renal biopsy
(B) Plasmapheresis
(C) Anticoagulation
(D) Cyclophosphamide
(E) Prednisone

Answer:

(C) Anticoagulation

Explanation:

This patient has nephrotic syndrome based on the presence of edema, hyperproteinuria, hypoproteinemia, and hyperlipidemia. Such patients are predisposed to developing a hypercoagulable state secondary to the renal losses of proteins C and S and antithrombin III, as well as increased platelet activation. Patients with evidence of venous thrombosis should be anticoagulated for at least 6 months. Recurrent thrombosis and renal vein thrombosis warrant lifelong anticoagulation.

Although he may need a renal biopsy, he needs to have his thrombus treated first as the "next" step. The same is true of using cyclophosphamide and prednisone. This patient most likely has membranous glomerulonephritis simply because he is an adult with nephrotic syndrome, and this is the most common cause in adults. Colonoscopy should also be done in a patient like this because there is a strong association of glomerulonephritis with solid tumors, such as colon and breast cancer.
Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 4

Question/Fact:

A 42-year-old man from Vietnam, who had been a bus driver in Thailand, presents to the emergency department after having shortness of breath while playing soccer with his son this morning. Over the last several months, he has been having several episodes of shortness of breath. Several of the episodes were associated with chest pain. He denies any significant medical history. He has a 25-pack-year use of tobacco, and he has a sedentary lifestyle. His father had a myocardial infarction at the age of 59. His heart rate is 72/min, blood pressure is 140/66 mm Hg, and respiratory rate is 14/min. His examination shows mild jugulovenous distention with a collapsing carotid arterial pulse. His cardiac examination reveals a point of maximal impulse that is displaced laterally and inferiorly and a mild diastolic blowing murmur at the base while he sits up. His sensory examination shows loss of vibration sense in all extremities, and an abnormal Romberg test. EKG shows normal sinus rhythm with left axis deviation and ST-segment depression and T-wave inversion in leads I, aVL, V5, and V6. The chest x-ray shows an enlarged heart with dilatation of the proximal aorta. The CBC, chemistries, and cardiac enzymes are negative. The echocardiogram shows an ejection fraction of 60%. What is the next best step in the management of this patient?
(A) Treat with digitalis
(B) Exercise stress test
(C) Cardiac catheterization
(D) VDRL and lumbar puncture, followed by penicillin therapy
(E) Aortic valve replacement

Answer:

(D) VDRL and lumbar puncture, followed by penicillin therapy

Explanation:

This patient has a murmur of aortic regurgitation (AR) and an abnormal neurological examination, suggesting syphilis. Therefore, this patient needs a VDRL and a lumbar puncture. Syphilis of the aorta involves the intima of the coronary arteries and may narrow the coronary ostia, leading to myocardial ischemia. There is also destruction of the medial muscle layers of the aorta, leading to aortic dilation. Myocardial ischemia in AR happens because oxygen requirements are elevated secondary to left ventricular (LV) dilatation and elevated LV systolic wall tension. Coronary blood flow is normally during diastole when the diastolic arterial pressure is subnormal. This leads to decreased coronary perfusion pressure.

Nifedipine or ACE inhibitors are only used once the patient develops severe AR. Digoxin is of very limited use at any time. An exercise stress test is not indicated because of the baseline EKG abnormalities. You normally detect the presence of ischemia on a stress test by looking for the development of ST-segment depression. This patient already has baseline ST-segment depression. A thallium or sestamibi scan would be required in a case like this. If you were investigating for ischemia, surgical treatment does not restore normal LV function. Patients with AR and normal LV function are followed until surgery is indicated. This is when the patient has LV dysfunction but before the development of symptomatic congestive failure. Valve replacement is also indicated in asymptomatic patients when the ejection fraction falls to <55% or LV end-diastolic volume is >55 mL/m2. Although catheterization may be useful before surgery, it would not be done before a specific diagnosis of syphilitic aortitis has been confirmed and treatment with penicillin has been given.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 5

Question/Fact:

A 40-year-old woman is brought to the emergency department by her daughter who states that she found her mother at home several hours ago, confused, lethargic, and unable to get up from her chair or speak. Her mother has a seizure disorder for which takes an antiseizure medication. She also has a history of alcohol abuse in the remote past. For the past several weeks, her mother has been complaining of difficulty sleeping and anxiety. The patient is stuporous and unresponsive to verbal stimuli. Her blood pressure is 100/60 mm Hg, heart rate is 50/min, and respiratory rate is 9/min. The pupils are pinpoint, and there is horizontal nystagmus. Asterixis is present.

Laboratory examinations reveal: white cell count 9,800/mm3, sodium 150 mEq/L, BUN 18 mg/dL, creatinine 0.9 mg/dL, glucose 50 mg/dL, calcium 5 mg/dL, ammonia 100 μg/dL, albumin 3.0 g/dL, AST 100 U/L, ALT 80 U/L. The urinalysis and lumbar puncture are normal. A CT scan of the brain shows cerebral edema. Arterial blood gas shows a pH of 7.20, a pCO2 of 46 mm Hg, and a pO2 of 79 mm Hg. Osmolar gap is zero. The toxicology screen is negative for benzodiazepines and opioids. What is the most likely substance that this patient overdosed on?

(A) Phenytoin
(B) Carbamazepine
(C) Valproic acid
(D) Ethanol
(E) Valium

Answer:

(C) Valproic acid

Explanation:

This patient most likely is intoxicated with valproic acid. This drug is widely used in the management of seizure and mood disorders. Valproic-acid intoxication produces a unique syndrome consisting of hypernatremia, metabolic acidosis, hypocalcemia, elevated serum ammonia, and mild liver aminotransferase elevation. Hypoglycemia may occur as a result of hepatic metabolic dysfunction. Coma with small pupils may be seen, and this can mimic opioid poisoning. Encephalopathy and cerebral edema can occur.

Phenytoin and carbamazepine are also commonly used antiseizure medications. Phenytoin intoxication can occur with only slightly increased doses. The overdose syndrome is usually mild. The most common manifestations are ataxia, nystagmus, and drowsiness. Hepatic encephalopathy would be unusual. Choreoathetoid movements are occasionally seen. Carbamazepine is a first-line agent for temporal lobe epilepsy, as well as trigeminal neuralgia. Intoxication causes drowsiness, stupor, coma, or seizures. However, dilated pupils and tachycardia are more common.

Signs of ethanol intoxication are similar to the signs of anticonvulsant medication. In addition, it causes a high osmolar gap. Valium is an unlikely cause of intoxication because this patient's blood benzodiazepine levels are negative.

Topic:

Poisoning

Record # 6

Question/Fact:

A 52-year-old woman presents to the emergency department with fever, weakness, and abdominal pain for the past three days. It has been associated with nausea and three episodes of vomiting. Her husband states that her temperatures have been as high as 103.5 F and that she has not been herself lately, appearing confused and lethargic. She has a history of hypothyroidism and migraine headaches. She appears lethargic, dehydrated, and is oriented only to person. Her blood pressure is 75/50 mm Hg, temperature is 102.9 F, and pulse is 108/min. She has dry oral mucosa and hyperpigmented areas of her skin spread diffusely over the posterior neck, hands, and knuckles. Rales are heard over the right lower lung field, and the chest x-ray shows a right lower lobe infiltrate. The EKG is normal. The patient is placed on intravenous hydration. Laboratory studies show a white cell count of 6,300/mm3, and the differential shows 82% neutrophils, 7% lymphocytes, and 9% eosinophils. The sodium level is 112 mEq/L, with a potassium of 5.9 mEq/L and a chloride of 92 mEq/L. Bicarbonate level is 20 mg/dL, and BUN is 32 mg/dL. The creatinine level is normal. The glucose level is 60 mg/dL, and the urinalysis is normal. What is the best initial test to diagnose this disorder?

(A) Immediate cortisol and assess ACTH level
(B) Metyrapone stimulation test
(C) Early morning cortisol
(D) A cosyntropin stimulation test
(E) 24-hour urine cortisol

Answer:

(A) Immediate cortisol and assess ACTH level

Explanation:

In the context of acute adrenal crisis, the most appropriate initial diagnostic test is to obtain a random cortisol level before initiating treatment with intravenous hydrocortisone. In a patient who is hypotensive and hemodynamically unstable, it is inappropriate to perform any diagnostic maneuvers that require several steps to obtain a diagnosis. (The metyrapone stimulation and the cosyntropin stimulation are such tests.) The early-morning cortisol is diagnostically useful if it is very low, which confirms adrenal insufficiency, or very high, which excludes adrenal insufficiency. A 24-hour urine for cortisol is a test used to confirm the diagnosis of the hypersecretion of cortisol, also known as Cushing's syndrome, which is the opposite of adrenal insufficiency.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 7

Question/Fact:

A 45-year-old woman presents to your office after developing a pruritic rash and a fever. She first noticed it on her wrists two weeks ago but states that it has now spread to her feet as well. Her past medical history is significant for a seizure disorder following the removal of a meningioma. She has been treated with Dilantin. Physical examination is significant for icteric sclera. There are polygonal, flat-topped, violaceous papules limited to her wrists and her ankles. A white, reticulated, lacy lesion is also evident on examination of her buccal mucosa. Her liver is enlarged and is nontender to palpation. Laboratory analysis reveals: PT 11 seconds, albumin 3.6 g/dL, alkaline phosphatase 160 U/L, AST 700 U/L, ALT 960 U/L, ANA 1:160. Anti-hepatitis C virus (second generation) is negative; anti-hepatitis-B surface antibody (HBs) is positive; and anti-hepatitis-B core antibody (Hbc)is negative. She has an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 20 mm/h and a cholesterol of 160 mg/dL. Anti-smooth muscle antibody test is negative, and an ultrasound of the abdomen is normal. What would you do next?

(A) Start prednisone
-2b therapy(B) Initiate interferon-
(C) Administer N-acetylcysteine
(D) Stop Dilantin
(E) Start methotrexate

Answer:

(D) Stop Dilantin

Explanation:

The patient has Dilantin-induced hepatitis. Drug-induced hepatitis may resemble autoimmune hepatitis, including the presence of hypergammaglobulinemia and positive antinuclear antibodies (ANAs). This can result in a false-positive anti-HCV ELISA test. The liver biopsy confirms the picture of drug-induced cholestatic hepatitis. Prednisone and/or azathioprine are the initial treatments of choice for autoimmune hepatitis. Although this patient had a positive ANA, additional tests, such as anti-smooth muscle antibody and anti-LKM (liver, kidney, microsomes), are needed to confirm the diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 8

Question/Fact:

A 28-year-old female comes to the emergency department with a headache and fever. She has not had any recent infections, nor has she been exposed to any drugs. Her medical history is unremarkable. On examination, the patient appears lethargic. Her temperature is 100.5 F, pulse is 100/minute, blood pressure is 130/85 mm Hg, and respirations are 18/min. Her conjunctivae are yellowish, and scattered petechiae are noted on the lower extremities. The liver and spleen are not enlarged.

Laboratory studies show the following results: WBC 12,000/mm3; hematocrit 27%; platelets 14,000/mm3; bilirubin 4.5 mg/dL; direct bilirubin 0.5 mg/dL; BUN 40 mg/dL; creatinine 3.5 mg/dL. PT, fibrinogen, and PTT are all normal. Her peripheral blood smear shows fragmented red blood cells.

What is the most effective treatment for this patient?

(A) Splenectomy
(B) Glucocorticoids
(C) Plasmapheresis
(D) Intravenous immunoglobulins
(E) Platelet transfusion

Answer:

(C) Plasmapheresis

Explanation:

This woman has a combination of hemolytic anemia with fragmented RBCs on peripheral smear; thrombocytopenia; fever; neurologic symptoms; and renal dysfunction -- a classic pentad of symptoms that characterizes thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). Approximately 90% of patients will respond to plasmapheresis. Patient should be emergently treated with large-volume plasmapheresis. Sixty to 80 mL/kg of plasma should be removed and replaced with fresh-frozen plasma. Treatment should be continued daily until the patient is in complete remission. Platelet transfusions in patients with TTP are contraindicated and can be associated with acute clinical deterioration. Antiplatelet agents, splenectomy, intravenous immunoglobulin, and immunosuppressive agents have not been of reliable benefit to patients with TTP. Each is less effective than plasmapheresis. Glucocorticoids are useful in patients if plasmapheresis does not work.

Topic:

Hemotology-Oncology

Record # 9

Question/Fact:

A 58-year-old woman comes to your office. She is currently in atrial fibrillation and is asymptomatic. Her rate is 70/min. She denies hypertension, diabetes, and congestive failure. There is no other past medical history. What is the most appropriate management of this patient?

(A) Warfarin and clopidogrel
(B) Heparin followed by warfarin
(C) Low-molecular-weight heparin
(D) Aspirin (325 mg) daily
(E) Warfarin to maintain an INR of 2 to 3

Answer:

(D) Aspirin (325 mg) daily

Explanation:

This is a young patient who has an episode of atrial fibrillation in the absence of other preexisting conditions. The American College of Chest Physicians has established guidelines for anticoagulation in nonrheumatic atrial fibrillation. Patients with risk factors for the formation of thrombi such as a previous stroke, transient ischemic attack, systemic thromboembolism, left ventricular dysfunction, recent congestive heart failure, systemic hypertension, or diabetes should be placed on warfarin to an INR of 2 to 3. Patients with no risk factors who are younger than 65 years are considered to be low risk and should take one aspirin daily. Aspirin is also suitable for patients with a contraindication to warfarin therapy. The efficacy of other antiplatelet agents has not been proven in patients with atrial fibrillation.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 10

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old man presents to your clinic complaining of four days of dysuria, frequency, and urgency. He feels slightly feverish and has had dull, lower-back pain for the past few months. He has had several episodes of the dysuria over the last several months. Each time he was given antibiotics for one week, and the symptoms resolved. Currently his temperature is 100.4 F. The genital examination is unremarkable, and the digital rectal examination reveals a nontender prostate, which is normal in size and consistency, with no palpable masses. After gentle massage of the prostate, a small amount of purulent discharge is extruded from the urethral meatus. The urine culture grows 100,000 colonies/mL of E. coli. Urine cultures from his prior symptomatic episodes also grew E. coli but only 10,000 colonies/mL. Which of the following is most appropriate?

(A) Cystoscopy
(B) Ciprofloxacin and azithromycin orally once now
(C) Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole for one week
(D) Renal ultrasound
(E) Ciprofloxacin for 4 to 6 weeks

Answer:

(E) Ciprofloxacin for 4 to 6 weeks

Explanation:

This patient has chronic bacterial prostatitis. Chronic prostatitis can present with lower abdominal pain, perineal pain, or low back pain. There is usually no dysuria unless there is accompanying cystitis. On physical examination, the prostate usually feels normal and is nontender. As in this patient, chronic prostatitis may manifest as a recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI). The key to the diagnosis is culture of urine or urethral discharge. Pathogens for chronic prostatitis in older men are the same as for a UTI, with E. coli being the most common organism identified. One may extrude purulent discharge by massaging the prostate, which will grow the offending organism. One can also culture the urine post massage of the prostate, which should grow ten times more colonies than premassage urine. This patient cultured 10,000 colonies of E. coli in prior cultures, and currently he grew 100,000 colonies postprostatic massage. Ciprofloxacin for 7 days would be appropriate treatment if this were just a UTI. Therapy for one week is not long enough to clear chronic bacterial prostatitis. Most antibiotics don't have good penetration into the prostate, and it takes at least four weeks of therapy with ciprofloxacin to clear the infection. Ciprofloxacin and azithromycin for a single dose would be the treatment for urethritis. This patient does have a urethral discharge, which may be confused with urethritis. However, since the discharge is extruded only on palpation of the prostate, this strongly suggests that the prostate is the source of infection. Cystoscopy would be useful in a patient with recurrent UTIs in whom you suspected a structural malformation of the genitourinary tract. This patient's UTIs are originating from his chronically infected prostate. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole for 12 weeks is an acceptable alternative for treating chronic prostatitis.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 11

Question/Fact:

A 29-year old man comes to your office for a routine visit. His only complaint is leg pain after walking a three-block distance. He states that six months ago he was able to walk a longer distance without having to stop. His father died of a heart attack at the age of 44. His mother had diabetes mellitus, and she too died of a heart attack at the age of 47. His older brother, who is now 35 years old, had a stroke and underwent a carotid endarterectomy last year.

The patient presents as a thin individual with a blood pressure of 135/70 mm Hg and a heart rate of 78/min. Physical examination findings are remarkable for the presence of multiple xanthelasmas on the face, chest, and upper back. There is bilateral, irregular, firm, and nodular thickening in the Achilles tendons and extensor tendons of the hands. This patient's medications include atorvastatin, gemfibrozil at maximum doses, and niacin, which was added to the regimen six months ago. He is maintaining a fat-free diet and exercises regularly. Laboratory test results show: total cholesterol 815 mg/dL, triglycerides 515 mg/dL, and HDL 55 mg/dL. The level of total cholesterol has increased by 15% since the last visit.

What would you recommend to this patient?

(A) Nutritionist consult
(B) Stress test for detection of silent ischemia
(C) Plasmapheresis
(D) Liver transplantation
(E) Increase the dose of statins as long as transaminases are within the normal range

Answer:

(C) Plasmapheresis

Explanation:

This patient presents with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which is a common autosomal dominant disorder due to absent or defective LDL receptors and resulting in a decreased capacity to remove plasma LDL. LDL cholesterol levels are markedly increased. It is associated with characteristic xanthomas in the Achilles, patellar, and extensor tendons of the hands and by the presence of xanthelasma. Corneal arcus is frequently seen. It is frequently associated with early coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular disease, and cerebral vascular disease. The plasma cholesterol level is generally in the range of 300 to 500 mg/dL, and in some patients homozygous for FH, it can exceed 800 to 1,000 mg/dL. Triglyceride levels are usually normal, but in 10% of patients, they may be mildly elevated.

Because of the risk of CAD, these patients need especially vigorous therapy. A low-fat and low-cholesterol diet should be initiated, although it gives only a moderate result and will not be enough to control the problem by itself. Effective therapy can be achieved with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) as first-line therapy. They lower LDL by 20 to 45%. When they are combined with a bile acid-binding resin, levels of LDL may be decreased by 50 to 60%. In some patients, triple therapy with a statin, a bile acid-binding resin, and niacin may be necessary. Patients homozygous for FH may not be responsive to these measures. For them, measures such as plasmapheresis or LDL apheresis are indicated. Liver transplant is the last resort when all else fails as treatment.

This patient is already on maximum doses of statins and bile acid-binding agent. The addition of niacin did not help. There is very little chance that any additional medical therapy will solve this patient's problem; that is why plasmapheresis is indicated.



Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 12

Question/Fact:

A 37-year-old, HIV-positive man comes for evaluation of generalized weakness, diffuse muscle pain, and frequent headaches that began eight weeks after the start of new HIV medications. He has never had any symptoms from his HIV infection, and he has a CD4 of 255/μL and an HIV RNA viral load of 25,000 (by PCR). He was recently started on zidovudine, lamivudine, and ritonavir/lopinavir. His past medical history is significant for hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. His medications include simvastatin and metoprolol. His physical examination is significant for diffuse muscle tenderness of the extremities. The range of motion is decreased because of pain with movement. His potassium level is 5.4 mEq/L, serum bicarbonate is 16 mEq/L, BUN is 35 mg/dL, creatinine is 1.6 mg/dL, and his viral load is RNA 40,000. The genotyping test result is pending. What will you do while waiting for this result?

(A) Switch zidovudine and lamivudine to didanosine and stavudine, and continue ritonavir
(B) Switch zidovudine, lamivudine, and ritonavir/lopinavir to didanosine, stavudine, and indinavir, and stop simvastatin
(C) Continue all medications but stop simvastatin
(D) Continue zidovudine and lamivudine, and switch ritonavir/lopinavir to efavirenz
(E) Switch to didanosine, stavudine, and efavirenz, and stop simvastatin

Answer:

(E) Switch to didanosine, stavudine, and efavirenz, and stop simvastatin

Explanation:

This patient presents with a drug interaction between the protease inhibitors and the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. In this case, it is with ritonavir and simvastatin. This can produce significant toxicity from the statin. Ritonavir can increase the serum concentration of simvastatin, causing severe myalgias, rhabdomyolysis, and potential renal insufficiency. The next necessary step is to stop simvastatin or change the protease inhibitor to a non-nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor, such as efavirenz. However, in this case, the patient also presents with failure to achieve a reduction in HIV viral load of 1 log after eight weeks of therapy. In the event of inadequate treatment of HIV infection, the best choice would be to start two new nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and use efavirenz instead of ritonavir, in addition to discontinuing the simvastatin. It is not enough to change ritonavir to indinavir because high-level cross-resistance is very likely. Genotyping guides the therapeutic choice of all treatment failures. The best thing to do when treatment is insufficient is to use as least two, and preferably three, new drugs.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 13

Question/Fact:

A 55-year-old man presents with abdominal pain and diarrhea for the past 3 months. He has also noticed a weight loss of 10 lb during this period. He denies nausea, vomiting, melena, or hematochezia. He consumes five to six beers each weekend, smokes half a pack of cigarettes a day, but has never used intravenous drugs. The past medical history is significant for osteoarthritis, newly diagnosed diabetes on a trial diet for 2 months, and recurrent duodenal ulcers found on four separate upper endoscopies. He takes diclofenac/misoprostol and famotidine 40 mg bid. Three years ago, he had taken triple antibiotics to treat H. pylori. He also tells you that tumors run in his family. His vital signs are normal. Physical examination is significant for mild epigastric tenderness to deep palpation without radiation. Routine labs ordered show: WBC 8,500/mm3, hemoglobin 13.4 g/dL, hematocrit 40.1%, platelets 256,000/mm3, amylase 155 U/L, sodium 141 mEq/L, potassium 4.2 mEq/L, chloride 106 mEq/L, CO2 23 mm Hg, BUN 15 mg/dL, creatinine 1.0 mg/dL, glucose 188 mg/dL, and calcium 11.2 mg/dL (elevated). What test would you order next?

(A) Serum lipase
(B) Upper endoscopy with biopsy
(C) Abdominal ultrasound
(D) Fasting serum gastrin level
(E) Liver enzyme studies

Answer:

(D) Fasting serum gastrin level

Explanation:

This patient's history of "tumors in the family" is consistent with MEN-1 (hyperparathyroidism, gastrinomas, and pituitary tumors). He presents with symptoms of gastrinoma, such as recurrent ulcer refractory to multiple treatments (H. pylori regimen and high-dose H2 blockers) and diarrhea. He also has an incidental hypercalcemia most likely secondary to his underlying diagnosis of MEN-1. The diagnosis of gastrinoma requires the demonstration of fasting hypergastrinemia and an increased basal gastric output.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 14

Question/Fact:

A slim, healthy 30-year-old woman is scheduled for a dental prosthodontic procedure and was sent for medical evaluation of a known history of mitral valve prolapse (MVP). The patient is a highly active individual and denies palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath. She admits to having a family history of heart disease, notably her father, who had died of a heart attack in his forties, and her mother, who had mitral valve prolapse. On physical examination, the patient is comfortable and has normal vital signs. Auscultation of the heart reveals a normal S1 and S2 and a prominent midsystolic click, which is accentuated in the standing position. No systolic murmur is appreciated. What is your overall assessment and plan for this patient?

(A) Get an echocardiogram to evaluate mitral valve motion and blood flow prior to clearing her for the procedure
(B) Prescribe empiric antibiotics for endocarditis prophylaxis and clear her for the procedure
(C) Get a cardiology consultation prior to medical clearance because the patient has a significant family history of heart disease
(D) Clear her for the procedure without endocarditis prophylaxis
(E) Clear her for the procedure with endocarditis prophylaxis

Answer:

(D) Clear her for the procedure without endocarditis prophylaxis

Explanation:

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a commonly diagnosed valvular disorder affecting women more often than men in a 3:1 ratio. MVP is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40. Most people have no presenting symptoms. There is myxomatous degeneration of the valve leaflets, resulting in a stretching of the leaflets and chordae tendinae. Because of the disproportionate size of the left ventricle and mitral valve, there is uneven closure of the valve during each heartbeat and subsequent prolapse of the leaflets into the left atrium. The prolapse is similar to the opening of a parachute. The prolapse causes the classic mid-to-late systolic click. If there is regurgitation of blood back into the atrium, an apical systolic murmur can often be appreciated upon auscultation.

This patient is generally healthy and has a known history of MVP. On examination, she is found to have the midsystolic click but no systolic murmur. The lack of a murmur indicates that blood is not being regurgitated into the atrium. In this setting, the patient does not require antibiotics for endocarditis prophylaxis prior to the dental procedure. Prophylaxis for patients with MVP is recommended if a murmur is present or if evidence of nontrivial mitral regurgitation is found on the echocardiogram. Because the patient has a known history of MVP, she would not require a cardiology consultation or echocardiogram to reconfirm the diagnosis. In fact, an echocardiogram is not a required study to diagnose MVP because dynamic auscultation can be more reliable. Furthermore, the fact that she has remained symptom- and complaint-free would indicate that her condition is stable, and so no study should be warranted at this time. Besides all this, dental prosthodontic procedures do not need antibiotic prophylaxis.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 15

Question/Fact:

A 40-year-old man comes to the office because of pain in his right knee for the past three days. The patient denies fever, vomiting, or dysuria. He has no history of trauma but admits to prior episodes of pain, especially after binge drinking. It usually occurs in the knee, ankle, or big toe and is relieved somewhat by ibuprofen. He takes no medications and has no allergies. He has a 25-pack-year smoking history and drinks about half a case of beer when hanging out with friends. His mother developed the same symptoms at the age of 50. On examination, the right knee appears swollen, red, and tender to palpation and has a limited range of motion. You decide to aspirate the knee joint. Which of the following is most consistent with his diagnosis?

(A) Positively birefringent, rhomboid-shaped crystals and 200 white cells/μL
(B) Bipyramidal crystals and 2,000 white cells/mL
(C) Negatively birefringent, rhomboid-shaped crystals and 20,000 white cells/μL
(D) Cloudy and watery fluid with weakly positive birefringent crystals and 20,000 white cells/μL
(E) Watery fluid with strongly negative birefringent crystals and 20,000 white cells/μL

Answer:

(E) Watery fluid with strongly negative birefringent crystals and 20,000 white cells/μL

Explanation:

Gout is a metabolic disease that most often occurs in men at middle age or older. It rarely occurs in women until they are postmenopausal. The acute gouty episode typically happens at night and is brought on by excessive alcohol use, trauma, surgery, dietary excess, or glucocorticoid withdrawal. The joint fluid aspirate appears cloudy because of the numerous white cells. They typically range in number from 5,000 to 50,000/μL. The cell count in this range can be found in any kind of inflammatory arthritis, such as gout, pseudogout, or rheumatoid arthritis. Crystal analysis is required to distinguish them. Gout will have negatively birefringent, needle-shaped crystals, whereas pseudogout will have weakly positive, rhomboid-shaped crystals. Rheumatoid arthritis should have no crystals. Septic arthritis from infection usually gives >50,000/μL white cells in the synovial fluid. The inflammatory process causes breakdown of hyaluronate in the joint fluid and makes it become watery.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 16

Question/Fact:

A 35-year-old man comes to the hospital after an episode of syncope. There were no preceding symptoms, and the patient recovered rapidly and completely with no residual effects. The patient did not have seizure activity during the episode. There is no history of heart disease and no previous episodes of syncope. The patient lives in rural Connecticut. His only previous medical problem was bilateral facial palsy several months ago. Currently, the physical examination is normal, except for a heart rate of 52/min. His blood pressure is normal. An EKG shows a sinus rhythm with Mobitz II second-degree heart block with a PR interval of 0.34 seconds. Echocardiogram is normal. He has a positive VDRL and a negative FTA. What is the most appropriate management of this patient?

(A) Doxycycline in addition to electrophysiological studies
(B) Ceftriaxone in addition to pacemaker
(C) Ceftriaxone in addition to prednisone
(D) Ceftriaxone
(E) Doxycycline in addition to permanent pacemaker

Answer:

(B) Ceftriaxone in addition to pacemaker

Explanation:

This patient seems to have second-degree heart block secondary to Lyme disease. He lives in Connecticut, which is an endemic area. (The city of Lyme is in Connecticut.) Facial palsy is the most common neurological manifestation of Lyme disease. The false positive VDRL is characteristic as well. Besides, the patient is very young and has no other reason to have heart block, such as ischemic heart disease. In Lyme disease, high-grade AV block with a PR interval of >0.3 seconds is an indication for intravenous therapy with either ceftriaxone or penicillin. A pacemaker should be placed at least temporarily in those with a Mobitz II heart block because of the risk of progressing on to third-degree block. This patient is also severely symptomatic from his heart block and has had syncope. Prednisone was used in the past but is inferior to an antibiotic alone. Steroids would only be used in those for whom the heart block does not improve with antibiotics. More minor forms of Lyme disease can treated with oral doxycycline. Doxycycline can be used with those who have just the rash, joint symptoms, facial palsy, or first-degree heart block.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 17

Question/Fact:

A 21-year-old man with no significant past medical history presents to office with complaints of blood in his urine and mucosal bleeding while brushing his teeth. The patient complains of intermittent "ringing in the ears." He denies any drug or alcohol use. He has no family history of bleeding disorders. Petechiae are noted in the oral cavity, as is dried blood in the nostrils.

Laboratory studies show the following:

Hematocrit 32%; white blood cell count 8,000/mm3 with 60% neutrophils; platelet count 13,000; PT 13 seconds; PTT 28 seconds; LDH 1,200 U/L; elevated indirect bilirubin.

Coombs' test is positive; abdominal examination is normal; and the peripheral smear shows spherocytes.

What is the most likely diagnosis?

(A) Alport's syndrome
(B) Bernard-Soulier syndrome
(C) Felty's syndrome
(D) Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
(E) Evans' syndrome
(F) Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)

Answer:

(E) Evans' syndrome

Explanation:

Evans' syndrome is the association of autoimmune hemolysis with autoimmune thrombocytopenia. It is treated initially with steroids and may occasionally need splenectomy to control the disease.

Alport's syndrome is the congenital association of glomerulonephritis with sensorineural hearing loss and ocular problems.

Bernard-Soulier syndrome is a functional platelet disorder presenting with platelet-related bleeding with a normal platelet count.

Felty's syndrome is the association of rheumatoid arthritis with neutropenia and splenomegaly. It is occasionally associated with thrombocytopenia. This patient has no history of rheumatoid arthritis, and the spleen and neutrophil count are normal.

ITP would not give the evidence of hemolysis that is present here, such as an increased bilirubin, positive Coombs' test, high LDH, or anemia. This patient does not have the renal failure or fever associated with TTP. In addition, TTP should give fragmented red cells on peripheral smear.

Topic:

Hemotology-Oncology

Record # 18

Question/Fact:

A 31-year-old woman presents to the emergency department with three hours of shortness of breath. She had been walking her dog this afternoon and had not been outside for more than a few minutes before she began to feel chest tightness, wheezing, and a cough. She has not had any relief from her bronchodilators or steroid inhalers that she uses daily. She states that her daily activities have become affected by frequent episodes of shortness of breath that recur a few times during each week. These attacks can last days at a time, and she is afraid that her current medications are no longer of assistance to her. On physical examination, she has a temperature of 98.8 F, a pulse of 98/min, a blood pressure of 136/90 mm Hg, and a respiratory rate of 23/min. There is some evidence of hyperemia and secretions in the nasal passages bilaterally. She is using her accessory muscles to breathe, and wheezing is audible. Pulmonary function testing reveals an FEV1 of 68% of predicted, with a reduced FEV1/FVC ratio. This increases by 14% after high-dose bronchodilators are administered. Her peak expiratory flow was 158 L/min before bronchodilators were given. Arterial blood gases on room air are: pH 7.36, pCO2 48 mm Hg, and pO2 60 mm Hg. Chest x-ray shows evidence of hyperinflated lungs. The severity of this patient's clinical condition corresponds with which of the following classifications of asthma?

(A) Moderate intermittent
(B) Severe intermittent
(C) Mild persistent
(D) Moderate persistent
(E) Severe persistent

Answer:

(D) Moderate persistent

Explanation:

This patient presents with an acute attack of asthma, likely precipitated by allergens from the environment. Her symptoms are suggestive of moderate persistent asthma, as she requires the daily use of an inhaled short-acting β2-agonist, the exacerbations are affecting her daily activities, and they recur at a frequency of more than twice per week, lasting days at a time. Other parameters consistent with moderate persistent asthma are the occurrence of nocturnal symptoms more than once per week. Her FEV1 value of 68% is consistent with the criteria for the FEV1 to fall between 60 and 80% of predicted, a reduced ratio of FEV1/FVC to <75%, and the reversibility of airflow obstruction with bronchodilators of greater than 12%. A peak expiratory flow of less than 200 L/min indicates severe airflow obstruction. During a mild asthma exacerbation, arterial blood gases may be normal or reveal a respiratory alkalosis with an increased A-a gradient. The combination of an increased PaCO2 and respiratory acidosis may indicate respiratory failure, and the need for mechanical ventilation should be considered.

There are four classifications of asthma:
1. Mild intermittent -- symptoms less than 2×/week and FEV1 >80%
2. Mild persistent -- symptoms greater than 2×/week but less than l×/day with FEV1 >80%
3. Moderate persistent -- daily symptoms greater than 2×/week with FEV1 >60 and <80%
4. Severe persistent -- continual symptoms with limited physical activity and FEV1 <60%

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 19

Question/Fact:

What is the appropriate mode of colorectal cancer screening for the following case?

A 44-year-old man whose father died of colon cancer at age 77 and who is asymptomatic.

(A) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(B) Flexible sigmoidoscopy now and every 5 years
(C) Colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years
(D) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(E) Stool occult cards every year; colonoscopy if positive
(F) Colonoscopy at age 40 and every 5 years
(G) Colonoscopy in 3 years
(H) Colonoscopy in 1 year
(I) Colonoscopy every 1 to 2 years

Answer:

(F) Colonoscopy at age 40 and every 5 years

Explanation:

Colonoscopy is the preferred method of screening for colon cancer. Average-risk persons should undergo colonoscopy at age 50, and if normal, every 10 years. If a polyp is found, the colonoscopy should be repeated after 3 years. When there is a family history of colon cancer, screening should begin at age 40 or ten years prior to the age of the family member. The earlier date is respected. Follow-up examinations for persons with family histories of colon cancer should occur at 5-year intervals. When there are multiple family members, screening colonoscopy should be performed at age 25 and every 1 to 2 years (characteristic of persons with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome). Colonoscopy is recommended 1 year after a hemicolectomy for colon cancer to verify the absence of recurrence and the presence of new lesions.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 20

Question/Fact:

A 69-year-old woman with a history of severe asthma is brought to the emergency department by her daughter because of severe lightheadedness. The patient also complains of worsening shortness of breath and progressive fatigue over the last year. For the last three months, the patient is able to walk only 2 to 3 blocks before developing a profound shortness of breath. She recently started using three pillows for sleep during the night. She denies chest pain and diaphoresis. The patient's daughter states that three weeks ago, her mother had a syncopal episode that lasted for two minutes on her way to the supermarket. At that time, she did not seek medical attention. The patient's current medications include lisinopril, digoxin, and furosemide.

In the emergency room, her heart rate is 102/min, blood pressure is 115/70 mm Hg, and respiratory rate is 22/min. Physical examination reveals jugulovenous distension and bibasilar crackles. Heart auscultation demonstrates a diminished S1, a loud P2, and an S3 gallop. There is a 1+ pitting edema of both extremities. EKG shows normal sinus rhythm with several multifocal premature contractions (PVCs) and a four-beat run of ventricular tachycardia (VT) at a rate of 128/min. The echocardiogram reveals an ejection fraction below 25% and no evidence of aortic stenosis. The patient is admitted to the telemetry unit, and recordings show PVCs and 12 runs of nonsustained VT of 4 to 18 beats in duration during the first day.

Which of the following is the most appropriate management at this time?

(A) Increase the dose of digoxin
(B) Start metoprolol
(C) Start amiodarone
(D) Cardiac catheterization
(E) Perform electrophysiologic study

Answer:

(C) Start amiodarone

Explanation:

This 69-year-old woman with nonischemic cardiomyopathy has presyncopal and syncopal episodes most likely caused by nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. She is at a high risk for death from a cardiac arrhythmia and should be placed on amiodarone, which is effective in reducing this risk. Beta-blockers also can be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiac arrhythmias; however, this patient has a history of severe asthma. Therapy with beta-blockers would not be the best choice. Although intravenous loading with amiodarone is not necessary at this time, oral loading is appropriate. Cardiogenic syncope can occur on a mechanical or arrhythmic basis. Mechanical problems that can cause syncope include aortic stenosis, pulmonary stenosis, and hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. Episodes are commonly exertional or postexertional. Neurological causes of syncope are far less common and less dangerous than are cardiac causes. Increasing the dose of digoxin will not change the risk of developing a ventricular dysthymia. Electrophysiolocal studies should be performed in patients in whom the syncope seems to be of a cardiac etiology and a definite cause cannot be found. This patient already has VT documented on the EKG. Electrophysiological studies are also done to see if the patient needs an implantable defibrillator, but this would not be the most appropriate next best step.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 21

Question/Fact:

A 65-year-old man presents to the emergency department complaining of palpitations that started 20 minutes ago. He states he had a "heart attack" one year ago. He smoked for twenty years and has had diabetes for ten years. He watches his diet and takes aspirin and atorvastatin. On physical examination, you find a heart rate of 145/min, a blood pressure of 148/85 mm Hg, and a respiratory rate of 22/min. He has intermittent waves in his jugular veins consistent with canon "a" waves, and his lungs are clear. The S1 varies in intensity. The EKG shows that the QRS complex is approximately 0.16 seconds in duration, with dissociation of the p waves from the QRS complexes. All the QRS complexes are positively deflected in all leads. How would you treat this gentleman?

(A) Verapamil
(B) Cardioversion
(C) Adenosine
(D) Insert a pacing catheter
(E) Procainamide

Answer:

(E) Procainamide

Explanation:

This patient has ventricular tachycardia based on the presence of a wide complex tachycardia and cannon "a" waves in the jugular veins. Cannon "a" waves are due to the unsynchronized contraction of the ventricles and the atria. This results in a retrograde flow of blood back to the jugular veins with atrial systole. The variation of the intensity of S1 is caused by the ventricle contracting at times when the AV valves are open and at other times when they are closed. Procainamide, amiodarone, and lidocaine are the most effective treatments for a hemodynamically stable patient.

Verapamil and adenosine can be dangerous in a patient like this. Verapamil is useful in supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), not ventricular tachycardia. Verapamil can decrease blood pressure. Adenosine is useful only for SVT. Inserting a pacing catheter into the apex of the right ventricle and trying to terminate the tachycardia by override pacing is indicated in a stable patient who does not respond to medication. Cardioversion is used for hemodynamically unstable patients. Beta-blockers post-myocardial infarction decrease the occurrence of arrhythmias, such as those seen in this patient.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 22

Question/Fact:

A 36-year-old woman comes to your office claiming that she has been feeling generalized weakness, along with stiff hands, wrists, and knees upon awakening, which lasts about 2 hours. She has also had a 4-pound weight loss over the last 2 1/2 weeks and an itchy rash on her chest. She claims the symptoms began only 2 to 3 weeks ago, and they have been debilitating. The stiffness and pain are bilateral and symmetrical. The symptoms have caused her to be late to work and have interfered with her duties. She appears tired. Her vital signs are normal. There is a maculopapular, fine rash on her anterior chest wall, which is not restricted to the skin fold areas. There are no nodules. The lungs, heart, and abdomen are normal. Her extremities are not edematous, but there is tenderness upon palpation of wrists and knees but no effusions or joint deformity. There is no tenderness over the tendon sheaths. Laboratory studies show: white cell count 8,600/mm3, hematocrit 39.4%, platelets 215,000/mm3, BUN 8 mg/dL, creatinine 0.9 mg/dL, glucose 125 mg/dL, and calcium 8.6 mEq/L. The rheumatoid factor and ANA are negative. X-rays of the joints are normal. Which of the following is the most appropriate action?

(A) Anti-double-stranded DNA
(B) Ceftriaxone and doxycycline
(C) Methotrexate
(D) Intravenous immunoglobulin G (IgG)
(E) Serum Parvovirus B19 IgM

Answer:

(E) Serum Parvovirus B19 IgM

Explanation:

This woman most likely had an acute infection with Parvovirus B19, which can cause a syndrome that mimics rheumatoid arthritis. Arthralgias from Parvovirus B19 most commonly occur in woman in their thirties, whereas rheumatoid arthritis occurs more commonly in older individuals. Parvovirus B19 gives a polyarthritis that affects the proximal interphalangeal joints of the hands, wrists, and knees. Arthralgias are common. The diagnosis is mostly clinical when one gets a lacy, maculopapular, truncal rash, along with malaise and a headache with little fever. There is a laboratory test for serum IgM and IgG for Parvovirus B19. Treatment is symptomatic, and most of these symptoms will resolve on their own.

Methotrexate is an incorrect choice because the patient's symptoms are too new to be considered rheumatoid arthritis, which is usually at least 6 weeks in duration and would be associated with a positive test for a rheumatoid factor in 75% of patients. The ANA is also weakly and nonspecifically positive in rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis involves NSAIDs accompanied with disease-modifying drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine or sulfasalazine. There may be a need for using three agents in very severe disease. Some of the other drugs that could be used are methotrexate, cyclosporine, and steroids.

Intravenous immunoglobulins are used to treat aplastic crisis from parvovirus. This patient's hematocrit is normal. The arthralgias of parvovirus should resolve without specific therapy, and NSAIDs are only used for symptomatic relief. Ceftriaxone and doxycycline would be used for gonococcal or chlamydial arthritis. In that case, one would expect fever, migratory arthritis, a petechial rash, and tenosynovitis. Testing for anti-double stranded DNA would be appropriate for evaluating a patient for lupus.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 23

Question/Fact:

A 55-year-old woman comes to the clinic after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus during a routine screening performed at work. She is currently asymptomatic and denies any history of frequent urination. On physical examination, you note a normal blood pressure. Her heart, lungs, and the remainder of the physical examination are within normal limits. When you ask the nurse to weigh your patient, you note her body mass index (BMI) to be 34. What is the next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Begin intense insulin therapy
(B) Begin glipizide
(C) Begin pioglitazone
(D) Begin acarbose
(E) Begin metformin

Answer:

(E) Begin metformin

Explanation:

In the obese patient with new-onset, type-2 diabetes mellitus, the initial therapy of choice is metformin. Of all the oral hypoglycemics, metformin is the only medication that results in weight loss and a more favorable lipid profile. Metformin works primarily by suppression of hepatic gluconeogenesis. As a result, this oral medication will never cause hypoglycemia as a side effect.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 24

Question/Fact:

A 56-year-old man presents to the emergency department with complaints of dyspnea on exertion for the last three days. The patient is normally able to walk about eight blocks without any problems, but now can only walk one. He doesn't take any medications and denies alcohol and tobacco use. Vital signs are: temperature 98.7 F, pulse 126/min, blood pressure 124/68 mm Hg, and respirations 18/min. The jugulovenous pressure is elevated, and there is a soft diastolic rumble at the apex with an opening snap. Rales are present at both bases. EKG shows atrial fibrillation at a rate of 126/min. What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Furosemide
(B) Diltiazem
(C) Transesophageal echocardiogram
(D) Start coumadin
(E) Mitral valvotomy
(F) Electrical cardioversion

Answer:

(B) Diltiazem

Explanation:

This patient has a diastolic murmur and an opening snap consistent with mitral stenosis. All the therapies described may be useful in the management of mitral stenosis. As is often the case on board tests, all the answers are partially correct. The initial step is to relieve this patient's symptoms by controlling the heart rate. Ventricular filling is impaired by mitral stenosis. The ventricle fills during diastole. The rapid rate of atrial fibrillation shortens diastolic filling time and causes the symptoms. The only therapy listed in the answer choices that controls heart rate is diltiazem. Although furosemide will decompress the lungs, it will not slow the heart rate. And although he may eventually need balloon valvotomy, this would not be done before the heart rate has been controlled. Coumadin will eventually be needed; worrying about a clot that might form in a year is not as important as controlling the symptoms of dyspnea now. It is unlikely that anything found on an echocardiogram will make you not control the rate. The echocardiogram is needed but will not change the initial management. Electrical cardioversion is not indicated for several reasons. First, he is not acutely unstable. The dyspnea is on exertion, not right now. Second, with mitral stenosis and what is surely an accompanying left atrial dilation, he will probably revert back to atrial fibrillation. The more abnormal the atrium is anatomically, the harder it is to successfully cardiovert. Finally, you would not want to cardiovert atrial fibrillation in a patient with three days of symptoms without either a transesophageal echo to exclude a clot or without having given three weeks of anticoagulation prior to the cardioversion.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 25

Question/Fact:

A 51-year-old man is admitted to the hospital with the acute onset of hypotension, generalized weakness, and confusion. He has experienced progressive shortness of breath over the past two years, which occurs now even on minimal exertion. He has a history of multiple transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), a pulmonary embolus last year, and a chronic deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Evaluation for a hypercoagulable state was unrevealing. He has been on coumadin over the last year. His temperature is 100.2 F, blood pressure is 80/20 mm Hg, and pulse is 104/min. His skin is hyperpigmented. There is jugular venous distention and small testicles. He has a systolic murmur heard over the third to fourth intercostal space, along the left sternal border. On lung auscultation, there are crackles bilaterally, and the liver edge is palpable 3 cm below the right costal margin. There is bilateral leg edema, and the stool is guaiac-positive. His white cell count is 16,800/mm3. Other laboratory tests show: sodium 122 mEq/L, potassium 5.5 mEq/L, glucose 48 mg/dL, calcium 11.3 mg/dL, BUN 88 mg/dL, and creatinine 2.2 mg/dL. His prothrombin time is 34 seconds, INR is 4.5, and partial thromboplastin time is 64 seconds. The albumin level is 1.2 g/dL, and hematocrit is 28%. What would be most important initial step in the management of this patient?

(A) Order blood transfusion and start normal saline
(B) The cosyntropin stimulation test
(C) Send blood for cortisol and treat with hydrocortisone and normal saline
(D) Send blood and sputum cultures and start broad-spectrum antibiotics
(E) Vitamin K and fresh frozen plasma

Answer:

(C) Send blood for cortisol and treat with hydrocortisone and normal saline

Explanation:

Acute adrenal insufficiency must be distinguished from other causes of shock, such as sepsis, the heart, or hemorrhage. Patients with acute adrenal insufficiency may present with headache, nausea, vomiting, mental status changes, hypoglycemia, hyperkalemia, hyponatremia, and hypercalcemia. The blood pressure is usually low. Fever may be as high as 40 C (104 F) or higher. Body fluid cultures may be positive if a bacterial infection is the precipitating cause. Adrenal crisis may occur following stress, trauma, infection, fasting, bilateral adrenalectomy, injury to adrenal glands by trauma, hemorrhage, thrombosis, anticoagulant therapy, or metastatic carcinoma. The diagnosis is made by a simplified cosyntropin-stimulation test. But if the diagnosis is suspected on a clinical basis, you should immediately draw a sample of blood for a cortisol level and start hydrocortisone and saline intravenously without waiting for results. Thereafter, continue hydrocortisone for at least several days. Rapid treatment is lifesaving.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 26

Question/Fact:

A 28-year-old woman presents to your office complaining of fatigue, weakness, anorexia, arthralgias, and some oral ulcers that interfere with eating. She also has been seen by a dermatologist for treatment of an erythematous rash that gets worse with sun exposure. All of these symptoms have been developing slowly over the past several months. Her past medical history is significant a positive PPD, for which she has been taking isoniazid. She also had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which is being treated with procainamide. She has had two brief episodes of confusion over the past few months that had resolved spontaneously. There is maculopapular rash on the areas exposed to the sun. Her ANA is positive. The hematocrit is 33.1%, platelets are 112,000/mm3, BUN is 32 mg/dL, and creatinine is 2.2 mg/dL. Her urinalysis shows 2+ protein and some red cell casts. What is the next best step?

(A) Antibody to single-stranded DNA
(B) LE cell preparation
(C) Antihistone antibodies
(D) Renal biopsy
(E) Antimitochondrial antibody

Answer:

(D) Renal biopsy

Explanation:

Although the patient is on procainamide and isoniazid, which can both give a positive ANA and lupus, her clinical presentation is not consistent with drug-induced lupus. She has very clear renal involvement with proteinuria and red cell casts in the urine, as well as an elevated BUN and creatinine. She also experienced some episodes of confusion, which might be lupus cerebritis. Neither central nervous system nor renal involvement is found with drug-induced lupus. She also has hematological disease, which is rare with drug-induced lupus. The best way to confirm the diagnosis is with a renal biopsy. Antihistone antibodies, LE cells, and single-stranded DNA antibodies can be found in both spontaneous lupus and drug-induced lupus. In addition, the renal biopsy will greatly help in the choice of therapy because it tells us who needs cyclophosphamide or azathioprine in addition to steroids for the management of diffuse proliferative renal disease. Antimitochondrial antibodies are seen with primary biliary cirrhosis, not lupus.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 27

Question/Fact:

A 22-year-old man with a known family history of hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) presents to the emergency department with an episode of syncope while climbing the stairs to get to his third-floor apartment. He was started on a beta-blocker twelve months ago but continued to have symptoms of dyspnea and lightheadedness. Verapamil was added six months ago, but he still has had persistent symptoms. What would be the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Cardiac transplantation
(B) ACE inhibitors
(C) Electrophysiology studies
(D) Surgical myomectomy
(E) Injection of absolute alcohol into the myocardium

Answer:

(E) Injection of absolute alcohol into the myocardium

Explanation:

When beta-blockers or negatively inotropic calcium blockers such as verapamil are not effective, the patient will most likely need an anatomic repair of his heart. ACE inhibitors are not only useless but can actually be dangerous by increasing left ventricular emptying and increasing the outflow tract obstruction. Cardiac transplantation should never be tried before a simple attempt at reducing the mass of the ventricular septum is made. Although surgical myomectomy is the traditional procedure, the septum can be reduced in size by using a catheter to inject absolute alcohol into the septal perforator branch of the left anterior descending artery to cause small therapeutic infarctions that will reduce the size of the septum. Although electrophysiological studies may indicate the need for the placement of a dual chamber pacemaker, the patient will still require a mechanical reduction of the myocardium to relieve what seems to be severe outflow tract obstruction.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 28

Question/Fact:

A 25-year-old white woman comes to your office today to meet you for the first time. Her only complaint is of headaches. Her blood pressure is 160/105 mm Hg in both arms. She is obese and otherwise has a normal physical examination with no bruits in her abdomen. Two weeks and three weeks later, her blood pressure remains elevated at 155/107 and 157/105 mm Hg, respectively. She smokes but does not drink alcohol. Laboratory studies show:

Sodium 138 mEq/L, potassium 4.7 mEq/dL, BUN 14 mg/dL, creatinine 0.8 mg/dL. Urinalysis reveals +1 protein, with no red or white cells.

What is the next step to confirm a diagnosis?

(A) Doppler (duplex) ultrasound of the kidneys
(B) Start lisinopril
(C) Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen
(D) Captopril renography
(E) Angiography

Answer:

(D) Captopril renography

Explanation:

This case illustrates a patient with possible bilateral or unilateral renal artery stenosis (RAS). Clues pointing to this patient as having a cause of secondary hypertension are an onset below the age of 30 and the fact that RAS is the most common cause of secondary hypertension. In the absence of specific findings of one of the other causes of hypertension on history or physical, RAS should be the first diagnosis to pursue. Although she does not have an abdominal bruit, this may be because she is obese and you cannot adequately auscultate the abdomen. Starting lisinopril is potentially problematic. If the patient has bilateral RAS, ACE inhibitors can cause a precipitous decline in renal function. The BUN and creatinine can be normal in a patient with unilateral RAS because a single normal kidney will keep these tests normal.

The Doppler (duplex ultrasound) is both minimally invasive and inexpensive. Because of her obesity, however, it will lack accuracy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is not the correct answer; magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is the study that will show the stenosis. Captopril nuclear renogram will have >85 to 90% sensitivity and would be more accurate than the Doppler in an obese patient. Angiography is the gold standard but would not be done until one of the other noninvasive tests just mentioned had been done or was inconclusive.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 29

Question/Fact:

A 72-year-old white man is seen in the clinic with complaints of increasing dyspnea on exertion and orthopnea. The patient recently moved to the city and has records of a recent hospitalization four months ago for dyspnea upon minimal activity, increasing fatigue, and orthopnea. The patient has a long-standing history of asthma and diabetes. Medications at this time include inhaled steroids, inhaled beta-agonists, and glyburide. ACE inhibitors and furosemide were started two months ago.

Vital signs are: pulse 100/min, respirations 24/min, and blood pressure 154/94 mm Hg. Cardiovascular examination reveals a regular rate and rhythm, and an S4 is present. Bibasilar crackles are evident in the chest. There is no wheezing. There is a trace bilateral pedal edema in the extremities, and routine labs are normal, except for a BUN of 42 mg/dL and a creatinine of 1.9 mg/dL. An EKG shows a sinus rhythm with left ventricular hypertrophy. Chest x-ray shows cardiomegaly and increased vascular congestion. Labs four months ago showed a BUN of 27 mg/dL and a creatinine of 1.2 mg/dL. Echocardiogram shows left ventricular hypertrophy and an ejection fraction of 57%.

What is the next step in management in the management of this patient?

(A) Increase the dose of furosemide
(B) Restrict salt and fluids and reschedule a return appointment in four weeks
(C) Increase the dose of ACE inhibitors
(D) Add digoxin
(E) Start the patient on carvedilol

Answer:

(E) Start the patient on carvedilol

Explanation:

This patient has congestive heart failure (CHF) due to diastolic dysfunction secondary to chronic hypertension, with no mention of left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction. Diastolic dysfunction is more common in elderly, hypertensive patients. Signs of pulmonary or venous congestion in patients with a LV chamber of normal size indicate diastolic dysfunction. The hypertrophic, stiff left ventricle needs more time to fill during diastole, so treatment with beta-blockers helps in slowing the heart rate and increasing cardiac output. Even though he has asthma, his is not wheezing now, and so it would be best to decrease his mortality with beta-blockers. Diuretics and nitrates should be used with caution because the decrease in preload may decrease cardiac output and cause hypotension. The use of increased diuretics is helpful in volume-overloaded patients for relief of severe edema, which is not present in this case. Reassurance, dietary modification alone, and rescheduling a return appointment is not an option in this symptomatic patient. ACE inhibitors are more helpful in patients with LV systolic dysfunction and for lowering the systolic blood pressure. This patient already has prerenal azotemia, and so it would be best to not simply deplete the intravascular volume even further with more diuretics. Positive inotropic agents like digoxin are effective in patients with CHF secondary to systolic dysfunction. Although they do not reduce mortality, these agents are effective in reducing rates of hospitalization and in improving symptoms. They are also useful when worsening heart failure is from atrial fibrillation with poor rate control.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 30

Question/Fact:

A 44-year-old man undergoes an upper endoscopy for chronic heartburn. He has had no nausea, vomiting, dysphagia, fever, chills, or weight loss. The heartburn occurs three to four times per week. He has a long history of tobacco but no alcohol use. An upper endoscopy shows erosive esophagitis and 4 cm of Barrett's-appearing mucosa. Biopsies are taken. Which of the following statements concerning this patient is false?

(A) H2 blockers at standard doses are minimally effective in treating GERD
(B) The risk of developing esophageal cancer is related to the histology on biopsy
(C) The risk of developing esophageal cancer is approximately 0.5% per year
(D) There is clear evidence that an endoscopy every year for surveillance will decrease morbidity and mortality
(E) A proton-pump inhibitor daily should be prescribed

Answer:

(D) There is clear evidence that an endoscopy every year for surveillance will decrease morbidity and mortality

Explanation:

Barrett's esophagus is defined by the metaplastic change of the squamous esophageal mucosa to columnar mucosa. The risk of developing cancer is dependent upon the length of the mucosa, the age of the patient, and the histology. The finding of intestinal metaplasia and/or dysplasia increases the risk of developing cancer. However, the risk of the average patient with Barrett's esophagus is approximately 0.5% per year. Patients without dysplasia (the typical patient) should be treated with a proton-pump inhibitor. A repeat, surveillance endoscopy at 1- to 3-year intervals should be performed; however, there are no data to demonstrate a decrease in morbidity or mortality by such a practice.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 31

Question/Fact:

A 64-year-old woman presents to the emergency department with complaints of slurred speech, blurry vision, and numbness of the left upper extremity that lasted about ten to fifteen minutes this morning. The patient had similar symptoms two days earlier. Her past medical history is significant for recently diagnosed cirrhosis, for which she is taking spironolactone. Vital sign are: temperature 98.7 F, pulse 72/min, blood pressure 142/78 mm Hg, and respiratory rate 14/min. Laboratory studies reveal: White cell count 7,600/mm3, hematocrit 38.9%, prothrombin time (PT) 11.4 seconds, INR 1.0, partial thromboplastin time (PTT) 37.8 seconds. An EKG shows atrial fibrillation at a rate of 78/min. What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Echocardiogram
(B) Diltiazem
(C) Electrical cardioversion
(D) Heparin 5,000 U bolus, then start heparin drip
(E) ASA 325 mg daily
(F) Coumadin

Answer:

(D) Heparin 5,000 U bolus, then start heparin drip

Explanation:

The patient presents with atrial fibrillation leading to a stroke. The most urgent step is to start anticoagulation to prevent a recurrent episode. An echocardiogram certainly does need to be done, but given the history of the atrial arrhythmia and stroke, the patient will need anticoagulation no matter what it shows. The rate is <100/min, so diltiazem will not help. This patient is hemodynamically stable, so electrical cardioversion is not necessary. In fact, cardioversion without anticoagulation is contraindicated because it might allow another embolus to develop. If the patient did not have the atrial arrhythmia, then aspirin alone would be useful. Coumadin should be started in addition to the heparin. As a single agent, the effect of coumadin would not be rapid enough.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 32

Question/Fact:

A 40-year-old woman presents with severe epigastric pain, nausea, and vomiting. The pain began suddenly and radiates to the back. Physical examination shows normal vital signs. However, she is icteric. The abdomen is tender, especially in the epigastrium. Laboratory studies show the following: amylase 3,990 U/L, ALT 220 U/L, AST 180 U/L, total bilirubin 0.5 mg/dL, and albumin 3.5 g/dL. An abdominal ultrasound shows numerous gallstones in the gallbladder. Which of the following statements concerning this patient is false?

(A) At admission, a Ranson score of 1 rules out the possibility of severe disease
(B) Intravenous fluids should be given at a rate of greater than 250 mL per hour for several liters
(C) A nasogastric tube is not necessary
(D) A CT scan is not required to confirm the diagnosis
(E) A cholecystectomy should be performed prior to discharge

Answer:

(A) At admission, a Ranson score of 1 rules out the possibility of severe disease

Explanation:

The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis is made in the appropriate clinical scenario (epigastric pain, nausea, and vomiting) in a patient with an amylase greater than three times the upper limit of normal. A CT scan is not required to confirm the diagnosis in such patients. Severity cannot be defined within the first 48 hours. A Ranson's severity score greater than 3 defines severe disease. However, at admission, the score is not accurate because it takes 48 hours to complete. Nasogastric tubes should be reserved for patients with refractory nausea and vomiting. The finding of gallstones in the gallbladder and the elevated AST and ALT demonstrate gallstones as the etiology of the acute pancreatitis. A cholecystectomy is recommended in patients with gallstone pancreatitis. Thirty percent of patients with gallstone pancreatitis will have a relapse within 3 months if the gallbladder is not removed.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 33

Question/Fact:

A 41-year-old woman comes to clinic with hair loss for the past month and energetically asks you to refer her to a "hair specialist." She denies cough, fever, or weight change but mentions that she has constantly felt tired and has had difficulty concentrating lately. She also has frequent headaches and muscle cramps. Her menstrual cycle is usually regular, but now she has been having amenorrhea for the past L, and the viraltwo months. She is HIV positive, her CD4 count is 78/ load is undetectable. She also has a history of atrial fibrillation, which has required defibrillation several times. Sotalol, procainamide, and quinidine have been ineffective in maintaining her sinus rhythm in the past. She is on zidovudine, lamivudine, nelfinavir, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, and amiodarone. She smokes half a pack of cigarettes a day. On physical examination, she is slightly overweight and has a temperature of 98.9 F, a respiratory rate of 16/min, and a blood pressure of 100/50 mm Hg. Her skin is pale and dry. Her hair is dry, but no obvious thinning is noticeable. The thyroid-gland lobes and isthmus are palpable, and nodular changes are not detected. Her ALT is 20 U/L, and the AST is 22 U/L. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is 22 mU/L (normal 0.4-5 mU/L), free T4 is 0.4 ng/dL (normal 0.9-2.4 ng/dL), and T3 is 110 ng/dL (normal 70-130 ng/dL). The serum beta HCG is undetectable. Her EKG shows sinus rhythm. What would you advise for this patient?

(A) Switch the trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole to aerosolized pentamidine
(B) Discontinue everything
(C) Add azithromycin and levothyroxine
(D) Stop the amiodarone
(E) Change antiretroviral medications
(F) Start levothyroxine

Answer:

(F) Start levothyroxine

Explanation:

This patient displays signs of hypothyroidism due to drug toxicity, which, in this case, is from amiodarone. Other agents associated with this effect are lithium, iodide, propylthiouracil, amiodarone, and interferon-alpha. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may be variable. They may include slow speech, absence of sweating, constipation, peripheral edema, pallor, decreased sense of taste and smell, and weight changes. Some women experience amenorrhea. Galactorrhea may be present. Physical findings include goiter, face puffiness, thickening of the tongue, thinning of the outer halves of the eyebrows, hard pitting edema, and effusions into pleural, peritoneal, and pericardial cavities. Hypothermia may be present. The free T4 level is normal or low, and the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level is usually elevated above 20 mU/L. In this case, the patient doesn't display any other adverse effects of sulfonamide therapy, such as a rash, neutropenia, or thrombocytopenia. It seems reasonable to continue trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole for Pneumocystis prophylaxis because the CD4 cell count is <L. Azithromycin should not be started for200/ Mycobacterium avium intracellulare prophylaxis because the CD4 cell count is >L. Anytime someone needs amiodarone and develops50/ hypothyroidism, the answer is to treat the hypothyroidism and continue amiodarone. Several other medications and elective cardioversion did not help her in the past. She needs the amiodarone to stay in sinus rhythm.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 34

Question/Fact:

A 75-year-old man is brought to the hospital after he was found lying on the floor of his apartment. On admission the patient talks and tells his story to the physician in the emergency room. He says that he is very sad because he lost his sister two days ago. The family denies this happening. The patient looks confused, weak, and dehydrated. His temperature is 100.5 F, with a pulse of 100/min and a blood pressure of 100/60 mm Hg. He has crackles over the right lung fields and bruises on the outer aspect of the right thigh. There is no fracture palpated, and the skin is intact. His sodium is 150 mEq/L, BUN is 45 mg/dL, and creatinine is 2 mg/dL. The urinalysis is positive for myoglobin, and there is an increased specific gravity. The dipstick is positive for blood, but on microscopic examination there are no red cells. The head CT scan shows old, lacunar infarctions. The patient is transferred to the floor for observation and treatment. During the night, the patient becomes more disoriented and agitated, and the nurse asks the intern for a restraint order, but the intern decides to give the patient intramuscular haloperidol. Which of the following is the most urgent step?

(A) Keep the room dark and quiet
(B) Electrocardiogram
(C) Switch the haloperidol chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
(D) Increase the dose of the haloperidol
(E) Add lorazepam

Answer:

(B) Electrocardiogram

Explanation:

The EKG is the correct next step because of concerns about rhabdomyolysis. The features that suggest severe rhabdomyolysis are the bruises of the legs, the history of lying on the floor for a prolonged period of time, and the myoglobin in the urine. A potassium level should be checked as well. Doing the EKG first is to exclude the most life-threatening manifestation of rhabdomyolysis, which is an arrhythmia from hyperkalemia. This patient has delirium secondary to trauma, combined with dehydration and possibly infection. Delirium may be hyperactive, hypoactive, or mixed. Environmental interventions, such as reinforced orientation, the explanation of all proceedings, and a quiet and calm room are measures that can be employed in the treatment of delirium. A room with low lighting is favorable in the management of delirium, but a dark room is contraindicated. Haloperidol, which is a high-potency, antipsychotic medication, can be used to control the agitation. The side effects of haloperidol include extrapyramidal symptoms, a reduced seizure threshold, and prolongation of the QT interval, which can lead to torsades de pointes. Prolongation of the QT interval of greater than 450 milliseconds warrants telemetry monitoring.

Chlorpromazine is another antipsychotic medication that can be used for the treatment of the symptoms of delirium. The administration of this drug may be associated with sedation, anticholinergic effects, and alpha-adrenergic blocking effects, which may cause hypotension. Each of these side effects may complicate delirium. In the elderly, haloperidol may be started as a dose of 0.25 to 0.5 mg every 4 hours. There is no evidence supporting that the addition of lorazepam would be beneficial. Lorazepam was shown to have equal efficacy when compared with haloperidol or chlorpromazine.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 35

Question/Fact:

A 21-year-old white man comes to the emergency department because of muscular weakness. He has had episodes of weakness for the past year. After coming home from the gym, he feels the inability to reach the cabinets in the kitchen. Sometimes he is unable to rise from a seated position. The attacks occur approximately 3 times per week, last 3 hours, and subside spontaneously. The attacks also occur after heavy meals. On physical examination, you note 2/5 motor strength in the bicep muscles bilaterally, with 3/5 strength of the handgrip, and 2/5 motor strength of the quadriceps bilaterally, with 4/5 strength on dorsiflexion of the feet. He has no prior medical history. Laboratory studies reveal:

Sodium 140 mEq/L; potassium 2.0 mEq/L; chloride 112 mEq/L; bicarbonate 15 mEq/L; BUN 10 mg/dL, creatinine 0.8 mg/dL.

What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Repeat potassium level
(B) Potassium chloride orally
(C) Acetazolamide
(D) Potassium chloride intravenously
(E) Spironolactone

Answer:

(D) Potassium chloride intravenously

Explanation:

This patient has an acute attack of hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HPP). This is a disorder in a group of periodic paralyses that are due mainly to defects in the sodium and calcium channels in the muscles. Mutations in the calcium channels are present in this disorder. They are also thought to be related to an abnormal effect of insulin on the uptake of potassium at the muscle membrane. The onset is rare before age 25. The symptoms of HPP most often occur after resting after exercise, stress, or a high-carbohydrate meal. Thyrotoxicosis may also cause the syndrome. The symptoms typically last for 2 to 12 hours. The weakness is usually in proximal limb muscles, although the extraocular and respiratory muscles can occasionally be involved. Attacks of paralysis can occur after high-carbohydrate meals. Hypoactive reflexes and cardiac arrhythmias can also be seen.

The diagnosis of HPP is confirmed by the history of repeated episodes of weakness with hypokalemia. In this case, the patient came into the emergency department with mostly proximal muscle paralysis and hypokalemia confirming the diagnosis. A muscle biopsy may be done that will show single or multiple centrally placed vacuoles. When the patient does not present with dramatic paralysis, a provocative test using glucose and insulin may be used, but this needs to be done only in a carefully monitored setting.

The usual treatment is to give potassium orally for the acute episode every 15 to 30 minutes with careful monitoring of the EKG, the potassium level, and muscle strength. Intravenous potassium is reserved for patients such as this who have profoundly severe muscular weakness. When giving intravenous potassium, it should be mixed with mannitol rather than dextrose because the insulin that is generated by the dextrose will cause more intracellular shift of potassium and can worsen the paralysis. Acetazolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, has been used to prevent attacks presumably by causing a metabolic acidosis. It may paradoxically cause a drop in the potassium level, and potassium supplements may need to be given as well. Beta-blockers may also decrease the frequency of attacks. Avoidance of high-carbohydrate meals and eating a low-salt diet should also be helpful. In this patient, overcoming the acute attack is the most important step, and the best treatment for this patient is to give potassium intravenously because he is so profoundly weak.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 36

Question/Fact:

Mr. Njuki, a 25-year-old man recently emigrated from Nigeria, comes to your clinic complaining of worsening exertional shortness of breath. His symptoms have worsened over the last several months and include three-pillow orthopnea, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, and nocturia. Mr. Njuki denies any resting or exertional chest pain at this time. Vital signs are: temperature 98.6 F, blood pressure 120/80 mm Hg, heart rate 75/min and irregular, and respirations 16/min. Physical examination is significant for jugular venous distention (JVD) worsening on inspiration, an S3 gallop with 3/6 systolic murmur radiating to the axilla, bibasilar crackles, and 1+ lower extremity edema bilaterally. EKG shows atrial fibrillation at rate of 72 per minute. Pulmonary congestion and an enlarged heart size are seen on chest x-ray. Echocardiogram is significant for reduced left ventricular systolic function, an ejection fraction of 22%, and decreased myocardial wall thickness. Which of the following will result in the greatest decrease in mortality?

(A) Furosemide
(B) Amiodarone
(C) Beta-blocker
(D) Digoxin
(E) Spironolactone

Answer:

(C) Beta-blocker

Explanation:

The patient has congestive heart failure. Because this patient is young (25 years of age), ischemia is extremely unlikely as the etiology. Although a murmur of mitral regurgitation is present in this patient and valvular disease is certainly a cause of congestive failure, the valve disease in this patient is more likely the result, not the cause, of the congestive failure. This patient seems to have a dilated cardiomyopathy without a clearly identified etiology. There is no history of alcohol abuse, Chagas' disease, use of Adriamycin, or radiation exposure to explain the disease.

Connective tissue disorders such as lupus, polyarteritis nodosa, and rheumatoid arthritis also cause dilated cardiomyopathy, but it is extremely difficult to attach the cause to these diseases without any other systemic manifestations. Idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy is most often related to previous viral myocarditis that may not have been specifically diagnosed at the time of the initial infection.

All of the drugs listed in the answers are useful in this patient, but the beta-blockers will result in the greatest decease in mortality. Digoxin and diuretics have no direct evidence of decreasing mortality. Amiodarone is the best antiarrhythmic for a patient with atrial fibrillation, dilated cardiomyopathy, and diminished left ventricular function, but there is inconclusive evidence of an effect upon mortality. Although ACE inhibitors will lower mortality, beta-blockers will lower it even more. The greatest effect on mortality with beta-blockers is in patients with the worst ventricular function. This patient's profoundly low ejection fraction under 25% actually indicates an even greater benefit from the beta-blockers, with a nearly 40% reduction rate in mortality.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 37

Question/Fact:

A 65-year-old man presents to your clinic for a second follow-up visit. Two months ago, he was hospitalized for an acute myocardial infarction. He currently denies chest discomfort, palpitations, shortness of breath, fever, or cough. His past medical history is significant for hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. He quit smoking three weeks ago after a 30-pack-year smoking history.

Physical examination reveals a II/VI systolic murmur at the apex with a diffuse and displaced apical impulse. No jugulovenous distension, rubs, or peripheral edema is noted. The lungs are clear bilaterally. Blood pressure is 157/98 mm Hg, respirations are 16/min, pulse is 70/min, and temperature is 98.7 F. EKG shows a sinus rhythm at 68 bpm. Q waves are noted in leads V1-V3, along with 1 mm of ST-segment elevation in the anterior leads, unchanged from his last office visit three weeks ago. Laboratory studies show: sodium 141 mEq/L, potassium 4.1 mEq/L, chloride 109 mEq/L, CO2 25 mEq/L, BUN 11 mg/dL, creatinine 0.8 mg/dL, ESR 26 mm/h, WBC 8,200/mm3, hemoglobin 14 mg/dL, hematocrit 41%, and platelets 229,000/mm3. What is the most likely diagnosis?

(A) Anterior wall myocardial infarction
(B) Ventricular aneurysm
(C) Dressler's syndrome
(D) Right heart failure
(E) Pericarditis

Answer:

(B) Ventricular aneurysm

Explanation:

The patient most likely has developed a ventricular aneurysm. His history of a myocardial infarction several weeks to months ago combined with the absence of symptoms are consistent with this disorder. He has no symptoms today, making a new infarction unlikely. Dressler's syndrome would either give pleuritic chest pain altering with body position and respiration and a rub, or it would give diffuse ST-segment elevation in virtually all the leads. Right heart failure would give hypotension, dyspnea, and the jugular venous distension and peripheral edema consistent with the backflow of blood into the venous system. Also, right heart failure usually acutely develops in association with inferior wall infarctions, not anteroseptal infarctions, such as this patient seems to have had. An echocardiogram is needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 38

Question/Fact:

A 34-year-old woman with severe heartburn presents for treatment. She reports heartburn 3 to 4 times per week but no dysphagia, nausea, or vomiting. She has a busy lifestyle and works 80 hours per week. She consumes one meal per day in the evening. However, she has been gaining weight over the past year. Although she smokes one pack of cigarettes per day, she is physically active. There has been no hospitalizations or surgeries. What would be the most appropriate course of treatment?

(A) Proton-pump inhibitors daily for 3 months
(B) Lifestyle modification
(C) An upper endoscopy
(D) Upper gastrointestinal series
(E) 24-hour pH

Answer:

(B) Lifestyle modification

Explanation:

Lifestyle modification for this patient would be eating three meals per day (as opposed to one large meal), the discontinuance of tobacco use, and avoidance of weight gain. These are the most important aspects of treatment of mild gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 39

Question/Fact:

A 30-year old woman comes to your office for evaluation of deep venous thrombi. Last year she developed a lower extremity venous clot. She was on oral contraceptives but has subsequently stopped. She was successfully treated with coumadin for six months. Three weeks ago she developed a femoral venous thrombosis, and now she is again treated with coumadin. Her mother died of a pulmonary embolus, and her aunt on her mother's side had a history of venous thrombosis.

All routine laboratory studies are normal, including the complete blood count, prothrombin time, activated thromboplastin time, and liver function tests. She has a test that is positive for the factor V leiden mutation by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

What will you recommend to the patient?

(A) Coumadin for another three months
(B) Low-molecular-weight heparin for six months
(C) Intravenous heparin, then coumadin for six months
(D) Lifelong coumadin
(E) Inferior vena cava filter placement

Answer:

(D) Lifelong coumadin

Explanation:

Hereditary resistance to activated protein C is caused by a gene defect in coagulation factor V. Two highly sensitive and specific diagnostic tests are available: a plasma assay using factor V-deficient plasma as a substrate (APC resistance ratio) and a DNA test (using PCR). This disorder is a relatively mild hypercoagulable state. If risk factors are added (i.e., surgery, estrogens or trauma), thrombosis is more likely. Thirty-two percent of women with thrombosis while taking birth control pills and 59% with deep-venous thrombosis during pregnancy have the factor V mutation. Long-term anticoagulation is indicated in patients with hereditary resistance to activated protein C and with a history of recurrent thromboses or after a single major, unprovoked thrombosis. Many affected homozygotes also require lifelong therapy. This patient is a homozygote, and in addition, she has both a recurrent deep-venous thrombosis, as well as an unprovoked thrombosis. There is no reason to place a venous interruption filter, unless she develops recurrent thrombi while on coumadin.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 40

Question/Fact:

A 36-year-old man comes to the HIV clinic for a regular follow-up visit. He has been known to be HIV positive for three years. Antiretroviral treatment was started six months ago. His present regimen includes zidovudine, lamivudine, nelfinavir, azithromycin, and Bactrim (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole). He tolerates his medications well and claims to be compliant. After three months of therapy, there was a one-log reduction in his viral load, and the CD4 count increased from 45 to 285/μL. At the present time, his blood tests show a rise in viral load back to the initial level. There is moderate truncal obesity and facial thinning. Laboratory studies show: ALT 112 U/L, AST 98 U/L, cholesterol 240 mg/dL, and triglycerides 260 mg/dL. What is the next step in treatment of this patient?

(A) Continue the same medications
(B) Repeat HIV viral load in three months
(C) Genotypic analysis of a viral isolate
(D) Assess serum drug concentrations
(E) Change medications to stavudine, didanosine, and ritonavir

Answer:

(C) Genotypic analysis of a viral isolate

Explanation:

This patient demonstrates a failure to maintain the reduction in HIV viral load after an initial response. The patient's viral load should fall below the level of assay detection within 4 to 6 months of the initiation of therapy. Patients should achieve a 1-log reduction in viral load within 1 to 2 months of beginning therapy. Patients should also have a rise in the CD4 lymphocyte count. The expected magnitude of the rise of the CD4 count is less well defined. If the patient fails to develop a reduced viral load, he should be evaluated regarding his adherence to the regimen, as well as how he takes the drugs in relation to food. This patient demonstrates abnormalities in liver function tests, which is most likely another adverse effect of the protease inhibitors. Assessing the concentration of medications is not routinely available as a commercial test. Continuation of the same medications, as well as follow-up of the HIV viral load in 3 months, would be too dangerous for the patient. He does not have a well-controlled virus. Changing his regimen to two new nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors and a new protease inhibitor is not suggested without knowledge of the viral genotype. There is a possibility that the virus would be resistant to new medications as well. Besides this, changing from nelfinavir to ritonavir is not suggested in light of the lipid abnormalities already present. The abnormalities would likely only worsen on ritonavir.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 41

Question/Fact:

A 29-year-old woman with a history of systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) for the last 4 years comes for evaluation of malaise, nausea, vomiting, and depression. She currently denies joint pain. Three years ago, the patient was given steroids but stopped them on her own when she became pregnant. Upon examination, the patient has a heart rate of 84/minute and a blood pressure of 162/98 mm Hg. Laboratory studies show a hematocrit of 27.4%, with a serum creatinine of 3.7mg/dL and potassium of 4.9 mEq/L. Her urinalysis has 2+ protein and 25-50 red blood cells/hpf. Regarding renal biopsy, which one of the following is the best answer?

(A) It is not indicated in this patient
(B) It is mandatory in a patient with positive lupus serology to rule out lupus nephritis
(C) Biopsy is used to determine the need for cyclophosphamide
(D) It is indicated only in relapse patients
(E) It is indicated in drug-induced lupus

Answer:

(C) Biopsy is used to determine the need for cyclophosphamide

Explanation:

Clinical lupus nephritis is seen in 50% of SLE patients and is characterized by either urinary abnormalities or a rising creatinine. Establishing a specific diagnosis of renal lupus is important, as each class may need a different form of therapy. Mesangial lupus nephritis requires a short course of prednisone, whereas diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis requires a higher dose of prednisone, along with an immunosuppressant, like azathioprine or cyclophosphamide. Even if proteinuria is mild, renal biopsy is still indicated. You cannot adequately predict the nature of the renal disease or the need for cyclophosphamide from the degree of proteinuria. A repeat biopsy is also indicated for late progression of the disease to distinguish between active lupus, which is treated with immunosuppressants, from scarring due to previous inflammatory injury, which is treated with ACE inhibitors. Patients with a slow rise in creatinine may or may not need therapy. The biopsy will help to distinguish between kidneys that are simply fibrotic or sclerotic from those with diffuse proliferative nephritis. Sclerosis will not respond to immunosuppressive therapy, whereas proliferative lesions will. Most relapses of SLE do not involve the kidney. A fall in complement levels is a more valuable predictor of subsequent relapse. Nephritis in drug-induced lupus is relatively uncommon and occurs in less than 5% of cases.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 42

Question/Fact:

A 38-year-old stockbroker presents to the emergency room with complaints of several episodes of headaches for the past few days, which have worsened over the past two hours. He had an initial relief of pain with indomethacin, but the pain has now significantly worsened. The patient attributes the headache to stress and excessive alcohol intake over the past few days. He describes the pain as unilateral, mainly in the orbital region, with watering of the eyes, swelling of the eyelids, and nasal congestion. The patient had infrequent headaches of a similar kind in the past, which were relieved with acetaminophen. He was symptom-free for the past six months. He denies taking any other medications. On examination, vital signs are in the normal range. Detailed physical and neurological examinations are normal. The patient is initially given 100% oxygen via a facemask. What is the next step in the management of this patient to relieve his pain?

(A) High doses of acetaminophen
(B) Sumatriptan 6 mg subcutaneously stat
(C) Lithium
(D) Verapamil 80 mg stat and every 8 hours
(E) Prednisone 60 mg stat

Answer:

(B) Sumatriptan 6 mg subcutaneously stat

Explanation:

This patient has classic clinical features of a cluster headache. Cluster headaches are much more common in men than women. They are associated with multiple attacks with ipsilateral autonomic symptoms, like conjunctival injection, lacrimation, rhinorhea, forehead and facial sweating, miosis, and eyelid edema. Cluster headaches are usually not preceded by an aura and may be triggered by alcohol intake. Usually, patients with cluster headaches do not have a family history of headache. Acute pain therapy of a cluster headache is oxygen inhalation, which was given in this patient, and sumatriptan. Sumatriptan is the correct answer in this question. Sumatriptan has the best efficacy as abortive therapy. It is given subcutaneously -- not intravenously, as it may cause coronary vasospasm. Dihydroergotamine (DHE) can also be used for the management of acute attacks of cluster headaches, but it is most effective 1 to 2 hours before the peak of symptoms. It is an ergotamine and can be given intravenously, subcutaneously, intramuscularly, or by nasal spray but can cause nausea. Sumatriptan and DHE should not be combined within 24 hours because of an increased risk of vasoconstriction.

Verapamil and prednisone are not useful in acute attacks but are used effectively for prophylaxis. Because the efficacy of verapamil is delayed by 1 to 2 weeks, it is often used in conjunction with prednisone. Lithium is used as prophylactic therapy. Percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomy is the preferred surgical treatment in long-term therapy for those not controlled by medical therapy.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 43

Question/Fact:

A 51-year-old man comes to the clinic complaining of the inability to perform his daily activities because of weakness and fatigability in his extremities, especially his legs, for the past three weeks. He also has a cough productive of blood-tinged sputum for the last two months. His other past medical history is unremarkable. He has smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for over thirty years. He has lost about 20 pounds over the last month.

Physical examination reveals: temperature 98.7 F, blood pressure 140/80 mm Hg, heart rate 88/min, and respiratory rate 16/min. Lungs are clear to auscultation. On neurologic exam, the cranial nerves are intact. Muscle strength in the extraocular muscles is intact. Muscular strength in the extremities is decreased to 4/5, and the weakness is more pronounced in the proximal muscle groups. His strength increases after several minutes of repetitive exercise.

A chest x-ray reveals a 2-cm lesion in the left upper lobe with hilar and mediastinal lymph-node enlargement. The initial complete blood count and chemistry panel are unremarkable. Tensilon (edrophonium) test is of questionable effect. An EMG is ordered, and the anti-acetylcholine receptor antibody level is pending.

What will be the most effective treatment of this patient's neurologic condition?

(A) Pyridostigmine
(B) Thymectomy
(C) Prednisone
(D) Plasmapheresis
(E) Chemotherapy and radiation

Answer:

(E) Chemotherapy and radiation

Explanation:

This patient presents with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome, which is one of the paraneoplastic syndromes. About two thirds of patients with this syndrome will either have or develop lung cancer. It is usually associated with small-cell carcinoma of the lung. In this disorder, antibodies directed against tumor antigens cross-react with voltage-gated calcium channels involved in acetylcholine release, leading to interruption of neuromuscular transmission. Most patients will harbor P/Q-type, voltage-gated, calcium-channel antibodies in their serum, which can be used as an excellent diagnostic test.

Patients often complain of weakness and fatigability and sometimes pain in the proximal muscles, especially the thighs. There is also dryness of mouth, constipation, and impotence. Cranial nerves and respiratory muscles are usually spared. Strength increases with sustained and repetitive contraction. The diagnosis can be made by EMG in which nerve stimulation over 10 per second causes an increase in the muscle-action potential. This would be the opposite of what is found in myasthenia gravis. The treatment is based on treatment of the neoplasm. This patient has stage IIIb disease, with hilar and mediastinal adenopathy making the cancer most often unresectable. Therefore, the treatment is chemotherapy and radiation.

Corticosteroids and plasmapheresis may relieve the symptoms but will provide only a temporary effect. Pyridostigmine and other anticholinesterase drugs used for treatment of myasthenia gravis provide a variable and inconsistent response. Thymectomy is not used in Lambert-Eaton syndrome, but it may be performed in myasthenia gravis.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 44

Question/Fact:

A patient comes to the hospital with 1 to 2 hours of crushing substernal chest pain and ST-segment depression in V2-V4. He has a history of peptic ulcer disease and diabetes. He currently has melena. Which of the following will result in the greatest decrease in mortality?

(A) Angioplasty
(B) Metoprolol
(C) Captopril
(D) Nitrates
(E) Emergency bypass
(F) Tirofiban
(G) Heparin
(H) Aspirin

Answer:

(A) Angioplasty

Explanation:

The patient is presenting with unstable angina and a major contraindication to the use of anticoagulants. Angioplasty is the better way to open the artery and prevent further clot formation. Aspirin, heparin, thrombolytics, and the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, such as tirofiban or eptifibatide, cannot be used in patients with serious gastrointestinal bleeding. Beta-blockers will improve mortality but not as much as opening up the blood vessel with angioplasty. Emergency bypass is only performed in the rare case in which anticoagulants and angioplasty either don't work or are contraindicated and the patient is having worsening chest pain and signs of progression to congestive failure.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 45

Question/Fact:

What is the appropriate mode of colorectal cancer screening for the following case?

A 77-year-old man who had a hemicolectomy last month for colon cancer and who has no family history of colon cancer.

(A) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(B) Flexible sigmoidoscopy now and every 5 years
(C) Colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years
(D) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(E) Stool occult cards every year; colonoscopy if positive
(F) Colonoscopy at age 40 and every 5 years
(G) Colonoscopy in 3 years
(H) Colonoscopy in 1 year
(I) Colonoscopy every 1 to 2 years

Answer:

(H) Colonoscopy in 1 year

Explanation:

Colonoscopy is the preferred method of screening for colon cancer. Average-risk persons should undergo colonoscopy at age 50, and if normal, every 10 years. If a polyp is found, the colonoscopy should be repeated after 3 years. When there is a family history of colon cancer, screening should begin at age 40 or ten years prior to the age of the family member. The earlier date is respected. Follow-up examinations for persons with family histories of colon cancer should occur at 5-year intervals. When there are multiple family members, screening colonoscopy should be performed at age 25 and every 1 to 2 years (characteristic of persons with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome). Colonoscopy is recommended 1 year after a hemicolectomy for colon cancer to verify the absence of recurrence and the presence of new lesions.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 46

Question/Fact:

A 27-year-old man gets a PPD skin test as he starts his medical residency. He is originally from India and has never been tested before. He has 12 mm of induration and a normal chest x-ray. He had BCG vaccination as a child and a booster at the age of 24. What should be your next step?

(A) You apologize for doing the test and say, "Oops! People with previous BCG vaccination should not be PPD tested!"
(B) Check three sputum acid-fast stains
(C) Repeat the PPD the following year
(D) Give him isoniazid and vitamin B6 for nine months

Answer:

(D) Give him isoniazid and vitamin B6 for nine months

Explanation:

BCG has no impact on the recommendations for PPD testing or treatment for latent tuberculosis infection. He is considered to have a positive PPD skin test because he is a healthcare worker, and the test is considered positive when it is reactive at >10 mm of induration. BCG will generally only give 3 or 4 mm of induration and should not go above 10 mm. When you see BCG in a PPD question, just pretend it isn't there. It should not influence the recommendations. You only need to check sputum for acid-fast bacilli if the chest x-ray is abnormal. Once a PPD test is positive, there is no point in repeating it in the future.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 47

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old man presents to the emergency department with palpitations and lightheadedness for the past 5 days. He was previously healthy. He denies a previous stroke or diabetes. He has had hypertension for the last 10 years, which has been controlled on medication. On examination, he is found to have an irregularly irregular pulse of 120/min and a blood pressure of 98/70 mm Hg. The rest of the examination is normal. His laboratory tests are significant only for a creatinine level of 2.3 mg/dL.

An EKG shows a rate of 132/minute with an irregularly irregular rhythm. The QRS is 90 milliseconds in duration. The ST segments and T waves are normal.

Which of the following is the most appropriate initial therapeutic option?

(A) Electrical cardioversion
(B) Ibutilide
(C) Metoprolol
(D) Amiodarone
(E) Low-molecular-weight heparin

Answer:

(C) Metoprolol

Explanation:

The patient presents with a narrow complex tachycardia and a rapid ventricular rate. The QRS is <100 milliseconds in duration, which is normal. The irregularly irregular rhythm suggests atrial fibrillation. Because the patient is hemodynamically stable, the most important initial step is to lower the heart rate to less than 100/min. Electrical cardioversion is indicated when there is evidence of hemodynamic instability, such as hypotension, congestive heart failure, an altered mental status, or chest pain. Elective cardioversion could be undertaken after the rate is controlled but only after there has been anticoagulation for several weeks beforehand or a transesophageal echocardiogram has been performed. Urgent rate control can be accomplished with a beta-blocker, calcium-channel blockers, or digoxin. Digoxin is relatively contraindicated because of the renal insufficiency. In addition, rate control with digoxin takes much more time than using metoprolol. Even intravenously, digoxin can take 6 to 12 hours to be fully effective. Although anticoagulation is likely indicated because the patient has had the symptoms for 5 days, this is not as important as rate control. Ibutilide and dofetilide are indicated to convert atrial dysrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), to sinus rhythm after the rate has been controlled. Amiodarone also has some effect in converting AFib to sinus rhythm, but its effect on rate control is minimal. Amiodarone is the answer when a patient has been converted to sinus rhythm and you want to use a drug to maintain the patient's sinus rhythm. Amiodarone is best used in patients with ventricular dysfunction.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 48

Question/Fact:

A 23-year-old healthy woman presents to your office for an annual physical examination. She has a history of a seizure disorder, which is well controlled on valproic acid. She feels well today. Two years ago, she delivered a child with meningocele during her first pregnancy. She is concerned about the recurrence of this event in a future pregnancy. Her physical examination is normal, and the urine pregnancy test is negative. What should you tell her?

(A) The risk of recurrence in a future pregnancy is not increased compared with the general population
(B) The risk is higher compared with the general population, but nothing can decrease it
(C) She should take folic acid 0.4 mg daily in the second trimester of pregnancy, and this will significantly decrease the risk of having her next child born with a neural-tube defect
(D) She should take folic acid 4 mg daily prior to conception and in the first several months of pregnancy
(E) All seizure medications should be ceased prior to the pregnancy

Answer:

(D) She should take folic acid 4 mg daily prior to conception and in the first several months of pregnancy

Explanation:

This patient has a child with a neural tube defect, and she is at increased risk of having another child with a similar abnormality compared with the general population. Her risk can be reduced by taking folic acid in high doses at 4 mg a day prior to the conception and in the beginning of pregnancy. There is evidence that periconceptual folic-acid supplements can decrease the risk of neural-tube defects in the fetus. The U.S. Public Health Service recommends supplementing all women with 0.4 milligrams a day of folic acid, even without a prior history of having a child with a neural-tube defect. This is also recommended for women with epilepsy. You should not stop the seizure medications because having a seizure during the pregnancy will be harmful to both the fetus and the mother.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 49

Question/Fact:

A 48-year-old man with AIDS comes to clinic for a regular follow-up. He was recently started on zidovudine (AZT or ZDV), lamivudine, and nelfinavir. He was previously seen by a different doctor in the clinic. The patient states that his viral load is now undetectable. His white count is 1,200/mm3 with 75% neutrophils. Six months ago, his viral load was 65,000, and his white cell count was 7,500/mm3 with 65% neutrophils. What is the most appropriate action at this time?

(A) Switch lamivudine to didanosine
(B) Switch nelfinavir to efavirenz
(C) Start colony-stimulating factor
(D) Bone-marrow biopsy
(E) Switch the zidovudine (AZT) to stavudine

Answer:

(E) Switch the zidovudine (AZT) to stavudine

Explanation:

The patient has done well with this new regimen in terms of the viral load; however, he is now neutropenic and susceptible to infection. The most likely medication to cause bone-marrow suppression and neutropenia in this case is zidovudine (AZT). The best choice would be to switch the patient from zidovudine to stavudine without altering the other two medications. When you are switching medications for treatment failure of the HIV, it is important to change at least two medications. This patient's medications are being changed because of drug toxicity. There is no point in starting a colony-stimulating factor because there are many alternatives to the use of zidovudine. Bone-marrow biopsy might be useful only if the zidovudine were stopped and the white cell count were to remain low in order to treat a primary marrow production problem. Lamivudine has virtually no adverse effects, so it is appropriate to continue it. Protease inhibitors cause hepatotoxicity, as well as hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia, and they do not suppress the bone marrow.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 50

Question/Fact:

A 43-year-old man presents to the clinic with complaints of fever, night sweats, anorexia, cough, and chest pain. The chest x-ray reveals infiltrates in both the lower and upper lobes, with possible cavitations in the apices. A presumptive diagnosis of tuberculosis is made on the basis of finding acid-fast bacilli (AFB) on microscopic examination of sputum. The patient is started initially on isoniazid, rifampin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol. What is the best way to monitor this patient?

(A) Sputum acid-fast stains every month for 6 months
(B) Sputum cultures every month until cultures become negative
(C) Serial chest x-rays
(D) Blood testing for drug toxicity
(E) Observe for clinical deterioration

Answer:

(B) Sputum cultures every month until cultures become negative

Explanation:

Patients who have pulmonary tuberculosis should have sputum cultured every month until cultures become negative. Eighty percent of patients usually have negative sputum cultures by the end of the second month of treatment. If cultures remain positive after three months, the isolate should be retested for susceptibility, and possible changes should be made in the drug regimen. If the organism is fully susceptible to all the medications the patient is on, then you should suspect noncompliance with medications. Directly observed therapy should be used for these patients. Response to treatment can also be monitored by acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear examination. This is not as accurate as sputum cultures because even patients who are being effectively treated can still shed nonviable (i.e., dead) AFB for several months after the start of effective therapy. Monitoring by smear is only done when culture monitoring is not possible. Positive smears after five months are indicative of treatment failure.

Serial chest x-rays are not recommended for monitoring responses for follow-up because x-ray changes lag behind, and they are not a sensitive method of detecting treatment failure. You don't want to wait for patients to get sicker in order to tell who has failed therapy. Cultures and smears can detect treatment failure with far greater sensitivity than clinical deterioration. Although blood testing for aminotransferases is recommended at baseline for all patients, these tests do not have to be done routinely during therapy. Repeated testing for elevated transaminases should be performed if there is clinical evidence of illness, the patient is pregnant or an alcoholic, or if the baseline tests are elevated.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 51

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old man presents with complaints of progressive weakness and fatigue for the past three months. He also has had fever up to 101.1 F, shortness of breath, and a cough with yellowish sputum for the past five days. Yesterday he developed painful lesions of the upper lip. The physical examination reveals that he is thin with pale skin and multiple ecchymoses on the upper and lower extremities. The upper lip is significantly swollen and erythematous, with several vesicular lesions. The throat is erythematous. Lung auscultation reveals rales at the left base, with some dullness on percussion over the left lung base. The spleen is palpable at the level of 3 cm below the left costal margin. Chest x-ray reveals a left lower lobe infiltrate.

A complete blood count shows: white blood cells 1,000/mm3, neutrophils 42%, lymphocytes 45%, monocytes 1%, eosinophils 12%, hemoglobin 8.0 g/dL, hematocrit 25.2%, mean corpuscular volume (MCV) 80 µm3, and platelets 45,000/mm3. The bone marrow aspirate was unsuccessful for three attempts, but eventually a biopsy was obtained. The pathology report shows a mildly increased cellular content but no blasts with a moderate degree of fibrosis.

What test would be most helpful in establishment of this patient's diagnosis?

(A) Peripheral smear
(B) Prussian blue staining
(C) Leukocyte alkaline phosphatase
(D) Staining with tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase
(E) Chromosomal analysis

Answer:

(D) Staining with tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase

Explanation:

Hairy-cell leukemia usually presents in middle-aged men. Most patients present with fatigue, but some seek medical attention because of infection due to the neutropenia. On physical examination, splenomegaly is almost always present. This disorder is usually indolent, and the course is dominated by pancytopenia and recurrent infections. Anemia is universal. Monocytopenia is so characteristic that it is virtually pathognomonic for hairy-cell leukemia. The bone marrow biopsy often results in a "dry tap" because of an increased bone marrow reticulin fiber content. Hairy cells dominate the peripheral blood and have a characteristic appearance with cytoplasmic projections, but electron microscopy, not the standard peripheral smear, is usually necessary to see them. They have a specific histochemical staining pattern with tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP). The pathologic examination of the spleen shows infiltration of the red pulp with hairy cells, in contrast to the white pulp involvement in lymphomas.

The differential diagnosis includes other lymphoproliferative diseases, such as Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (monoclonal IgM spike on serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Prussian blue staining is used to identify the ringed sideroblasts of myelodysplastic syndrome. Chromosomal analysis is most useful in myelodysplastic syndrome and acute leukemia. Both of these disorders should have had blasts visible in the bone marrow biopsy, and there should have been no problem with the aspirate. The leukocyte alkaline phosphatase test is used to identify those patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). CML always gives an elevated white cell count.

The treatment of choice for hairy cell leukemia is cladribine (2-chlorodeoxyadenosine; CdA). This drug produces improvement in 95% of cases and complete remission in about 80%. Interferon-alpha is now rarely used.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 52

Question/Fact:

A 68-year-old man presents to hospital with complaints of worsening fatigue for the past few weeks. Two months ago, his nephrologist started him on erythropoietin after dialysis. He has been on hemodialysis for the past 19 years because his type II diabetes was never controlled. He denies chest pain or dizziness but reports feeling "awfully winded after I walk for one block." He also denies melena, hematochezia, or other bleeding. His medications include insulin, phosphate binders, and amlodipine. On physical examination, he appears pale and tired. His temperature is 98.9 F, and respirations are 18/min. When seated, his blood pressure is 140/72 mm Hg, and his pulse is 96/min. When standing, his blood pressure becomes 148/80, and pulse becomes 98/min. Heart and lung sounds are normal, and his abdomen is benign. Rectal examination reveals a trace guaiac-positive stool. Laboratory studies show:

CBC: WBC 8,000/mm3; hemoglobin 9.5 mg/dL; hematocrit 31%; platelets 320,000/mm3.
MCV 72 FL (normal 82-98 FL); MCHC 30 g/dL (normal 32-36 g/dL); RDW 17% (normal 13-15 %)
Reticulocyte count (corrected) 1%
Serum iron: decreased
Ferritin 12 ng/mL (normal 15-200 ng/mL); TIBC elevated
Bilirubin 0.4 mg/dL; direct bilirubin 0.2 mg/dL
EKG: no new ST-T wave abnormalities, no Q waves
Chest x-ray: borderline cardiomegaly

What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Ferrous sulfate
(B) Blood transfusion
(C) Colonoscopy
(D) Increase the erythropoietin dose
(E) Bone marrow biopsy

Answer:

(C) Colonoscopy

Explanation:

This patient has an anemia of chronic disease from renal failure as well as iron deficiency. There is a deficiency of erythropoietin secretion because of renal failure, which usually causes a normocytic anemia with a decreased reticulocyte count. The other cell lines should be unaffected. Despite being on erythropoietin for two months, he is not symptomatically better, and his laboratory tests suggest an iron deficiency. His cells are microcytic, the ferritin is low, and the total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) is elevated. If this were just anemia form renal insufficiency, he would have a high ferritin level and a low TIBC. Increasing the erythropoietin alone will have no effect on the blood count.

The most common cause of iron deficiency is blood loss. In a man above the age of 50, gastrointestinal blood loss is certainly the most common cause. Beside the anemia, being older than 50 requires that he get a colonoscopy once every ten years to screen for colon cancer. He is hemodynamically stable with no orthostatic changes, no chest pain, and no EKG changes, and the hematocrit is above 30%; therefore, transfusion at this time is not indicated. Although we would be treating his iron deficiency with ferrous sulfate, the more important underlying cause would be ignored. Although a bone marrow biopsy is the most sensitive method of detecting an iron-deficiency anemia, it is not necessary in this case.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 53

Question/Fact:

A 52-year-old woman is brought to the emergency room by an ambulance after being found at home lying on the bedroom floor. The paramedic accompanying her hands you an empty medication bottle of nortriptyline. A neighbor who comes with her states that the patient has had a previous history of seizures, depression, and multiple suicide attempts. They were together just two hours prior to the incident. The patient is obtunded and only responds to painful stimuli. Examination reveals dilated and equally reactive pupils, flushed skin, and generalized muscle twitching. The abdominal examination reveals hypoactive bowel sounds. Her blood pressure is 72/48 mm Hg, the respiratory rate is 22/min, pulse is 68/min, and temperature is 102.5 F. The EKG shows a prolonged QT interval. What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Immediate emesis with ipecac
(B) Bicarbonate
(C) Ceftriaxone and vancomycin
(D) Activated charcoal
(E) Hemodialysis

Answer:

(B) Bicarbonate

Explanation:

The patient presents to the emergency room with a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) overdose. TCAs are among the most common drugs that are used in suicidal overdose attempts. Along with their anticholinergic effects, TCAs also have a cardiac depressant effect similar to that of quinidine (blocks sodium-channel conduction) when taken in large doses. For this reason, TCA overdose can also induce QT-interval prolongation, as shown in this patient's EKG. This results in ventricular arrhythmias and atrioventricular block. As with the majority of the TCA toxicities, the QT interval correlates more reliably than does the serum drug levels with the severity of intoxication. Other symptoms of TCA toxicity include tachycardia, hypotension, hyperthermia secondary to decreased perspiration, dry mouth, flushed skin, dilated pupils, decreased peristalsis, and muscle twitching. Bicarbonate is used to protect the heart from cardiac dysrhythmia. The alkaline environment blocks the quinidine-like effect upon the heart of the tricyclics.

Induction of emesis is contraindicated because of an associated increase in the risk of aspiration pneumonia in a patient with altered mental status. Activated charcoal, as with most other poisonings, is a mainstay of therapy and can be combined with gastric lavage. If gastric lavage is performed in a patient with altered mental status, the patient should undergo endotracheal intubation to protect the airway and prevent aspiration of the gastric contents. TCAs achieve high tissue concentrations within a few hours of ingestion and are therefore not effectively cleared from the serum by hemodialysis. Treating meningitis is not the correct answer, given the clear history of a tricyclic antidepressant overdose as both a cause of her fever and altered mental status.

Topic:

Poisoning

Record # 54

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old man presents to the emergency room with 13 hours of sharp, retrosternal chest pain radiating to the back. The patient states that he had a myocardial infarction two weeks ago. He did not have symptoms of shortness of breath at that time. He is currently experiencing increased chest pain on deep inspiration, which did not occur before. He first began to experience the pain while lying down. On physical examination, the patient has a low-grade temperature of 100.9 F, a pulse of 91/min, blood pressure of 110/74 mm Hg, and respirations of 23/min. The EKG displays Mobitz type I second-degree heart block, ST elevation in leads I, II, III, aVF, aVL, and V1-V6, and depressed PR intervals. His past medical history is significant for congestive failure and asthma with multiple hospitalizations requiring intubation. Laboratory studies reveal: WBC 16,000/mm3, hematocrit 38.8%, platelets 339,000/mm3, erythrocyte sedimentation rate 130 mm/h. What is the best initial treatment for this patient's condition?

(A) Intravenous metoprolol or propranolol
(B) Thrombolytics and admit to CCU for monitoring
(C) Pacemaker
(D) Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
(E) Prednisone

Answer:

(D) Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Explanation:

The patient described in this question presents with Dressler's syndrome, often referred to as post-cardiac injury syndrome. Dressler's syndrome can occur weeks to several months after myocardial infarction or open-heart surgery. It can be recurrent and is thought to represent an autoimmune syndrome or hypersensitivity reaction in which the antigen originates from injured myocardial tissue or pericardium. Circulating autoantibodies to myocardium frequently occur. Patients typically present with fever, pleuritic chest pain, leukocytosis, and an elevated sedimentation rate (ESR). The EKG shows diffuse ST-segment elevation and PR-segment depression typical of acute pericarditis. Large pericardial and pleural effusions may develop as well. Often, no treatment is necessary, aside from aspirin, indomethacin, or other NSAIDs. If these are ineffective, prednisone should be used. There is no role for the use of intravenous beta-blockers in this patient. They do not help the pericarditis and are dangerous because of the history of severe asthma requiring multiple intubations. Thrombolytics are not indicated, as this patient is not presenting with an acute infarction. Even if he were having an infarction, he has passed the 12-hour window in which thrombolytics decrease mortality. A pacemaker is not indicated for the treatment of Mobitz type I heart block.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 55

Question/Fact:

A 27-year-old woman is admitted to the hospital with complaints of lower abdominal pain, mucoid vaginal discharge, nausea, and vomiting for three days. She denies skin and mucosal lesions or dysuria. Her last menstrual period was two weeks ago. Her temperature is 101.4 F. She has tenderness in the right lower abdominal quadrant. The pelvic examination shows bilateral adnexal tenderness and pain with cervical motion. There is a cloudy mucoid discharge from the cervix. The pregnancy test is negative. Gram stain of the cervical discharge shows whites cells with no organisms, and the culture is pending. The patient is started on appropriate antibiotics. Which test would you do next to confirm the diagnosis?

(A) DNA probe test
(B) Vaginal ultrasonography
(C) Laparoscopy
(D) Ligase chain reaction (LCR) assay
(E) Direct immunofluorescence assay

Answer:

(D) Ligase chain reaction (LCR) assay

Explanation:

This patient presents with what is most likely chlamydial salpingitis and cervicitis. Mucopurulent cervicitis in 50% of patients is caused by C. trachomatis. The patient may complain of mucoid vaginal discharge. Unless concurrent bacterial vaginosis is present, the vaginal discharge lacks an odor. The diagnosis should initially be established clinically because C. trachomatis is difficult and expensive to culture. Cervical motion tenderness and a cervical discharge is enough to indicate a need for antibiotics. A patient with a negative Gram stain and the absence of Neisseria gonorrhoeae on culture is assumed to have a chlamydial infection. Direct immunofluorescence assay and the DNA probe test can be used for screening but are less sensitive than culture or ligase chain reaction (LCR). The LCR test has superior sensitivity (90-95%). It also has an excellent specificity, approaching 100%, and it can be performed on urine. Vaginal ultrasonography will not help to isolate the organism. It would assist in the assessment of the amount of anatomical damage, such as with an abscess or an ectopic pregnancy. Laparoscopy is the most invasive method that can be used to obtain specimens to direct evaluation and treatment. Laparoscopy is used when a patient has recurrent infection or when a patient does not respond to therapy, and the most exact of all methods of testing is necessary.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 56

Question/Fact:

You are asked to evaluate a 62-year-old man on the orthopedic surgery service for shortness of breath. The patient was initially admitted to the hospital 14 days ago for a right hip fracture and successfully underwent hip replacement surgery 12 days ago. He required treatment for congestive heart failure secondary to excessive postoperative fluid resuscitation. Three days ago, he once again developed shortness of breath and has been progressively worsening without a response to diuretics.

The patient is tachypneic but able to complete sentences. His blood pressure is 137/83 mm Hg, respiratory rate is 26/min, and his heart rate is 108/min. An arterial blood gas on a 50% facemask shows a pH of 7.38, a pCO2 of 30 mm Hg, a pO2 of 72 mm Hg, and a saturation of 90%. The chest x-ray shows mild right basilar atelectasis without signs of congestion. The EKG shows sinus tachycardia with left ventricular hypertrophy, although there is right axis deviation. An echocardiogram estimates the pulmonary artery systolic pressure at 45 mm Hg. The venous duplex reveals bilateral chronic and acute nonocclusive femoral and popliteal thrombi with freely mobile clots. Intravenous heparin is started. What is the most urgent step in the management of this patient?

(A) Spiral CT scan of the chest
(B) V/Q scan
(C) Intubate and place the patient on mechanical ventilation
(D) Inferior vena cava filter placement
(E) Initiate coumadin therapy
(F) Embolectomy

Answer:

(D) Inferior vena cava filter placement

Explanation:

The patient has developed pulmonary emboli from the proximal venous thrombi in the leg as suggested by tachypnea, tachycardia, and a wide A-a gradient on the blood gas. There is clear evidence of a source of the emboli on venous Doppler studies of the lower extremities. The next best step in the management of this patient is to prevent further embolization, therefore justifying the emergent placement of an intracaval filter. Although the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism with spiral CT or V-Q scanning would be helpful in validating the use of anticoagulation, they would not be useful for stabilizing the patient at this time. In addition, the weight of evidence for a pulmonary embolus is so overwhelming in this patient that even if the V/Q scan were low probability for an embolus, you would still continue to treat the patient anyway. These tests will not change your acute management. Coumadin, although indicated, would not be effective in the immediate treatment of this patient. Although the patient is tachypneic, there does not appear to be any signs of acute respiratory failure. For this reason, acute intubation and mechanical ventilation are not warranted at this time. The filter is the most urgent step here because of the high likelihood of respiratory failure and hemodynamic instability if another clot occurs. This patient has pulmonary hypertension already, and although he is oxygenating well now, another clot could be potentially fatal.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 57

Question/Fact:

A 76-year-old man who was a smoker for the past 30 years with a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) presents to the emergency department with a low-grade fever and increasing cough for the past three days. He also complains of shortness of breath for the past 48 hours. He worked as a nurse for 30 years and had a chronic hepatitis B infection for which he received interferon-2-alpha for 16 weeks and tolerated it well. During the physical examination, he has a large loose stool and appears acutely ill and confused. His temperature is 101 F, respirations are 24/min, pulse is 100/min, and blood pressure is 130/80 mm Hg. He has diffuse coarse expiratory rhonchi in both lungs. Laboratory studies show: hematocrit 33%, white cell count 16,000/mm3, platelets 150,000/mm3, sodium 128 mEq/L, bicarbonate 24 mEq/L, BUN 24 mg/dL, creatinine 1.2 mg/dL, and glucose 140 mg/dL. The chest x-ray shows hazy interstitial infiltrates. Sputum Gram stain shows only white cells. What should be the next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Transtracheal aspirates for Gram stain and culture
(B) Oral antibiotics
(C) Admit to hospital and start intravenous azithromycin and ceftriaxone
(D) Do blood cultures and start on intravenous cefuroxime
(E) Bronchoscopy

Answer:

(C) Admit to hospital and start intravenous azithromycin and ceftriaxone

Explanation:

The presentation with a history of diarrhea, hyponatremia, hazy interstitial infiltrates, and nondiagnostic Gram stain is consistent with Legionella pneumonia. Legionella should respond well to macrolides, particularly erythromycin, as well as fluoroquinolones or doxycycline. The sensitivity of a transtracheal aspirate is 90%, but the specificity is low. The major advantage of this method is that material obtained by transtracheal aspirate is not contaminated by upper respiratory organisms.

It is incorrect to treat this patient as an outpatient because patients who fall into risk class IV of the pneumonia severity index need hospitalization, perhaps even in the intensive care unit, and intravenous antibiotics. It is incorrect to treat community-acquired pneumonia with a penicillin or cephalosporin alone. Many of the causative organisms, such as Chlamydia, Legionella, and Mycoplasma do not respond to cefuroxime.



In this case, an age above 70 (70 points), the presence of liver disease (20), mental status changes (20), and sodium level below 130 (20) gives a total of 130 points. This patient should definitely be hospitalized.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 58

Question/Fact:

A previously healthy 18-year-old woman presents to the emergency department with complaints of fever, chills, and bilateral lower extremity swelling for approximately 1 week. She has visited the emergency department three times over the last month. She was originally found to have a temperature of 101 F and an abnormal chest x-ray, with a WBC of 18,000/mm3 with 90% neutrophils and normal serum chemistries. She was treated with multiple courses of antibiotics but never really seemed to get better. Now she describes a persistent cough, abdominal pain, severe fatigue, and myalgias. Her dentist had treated her twice for "tooth infections" over the last two months. She remembers taking amoxicillin and clindamycin, respectively.

Her physical examination today shows a temperature of 103 F, a pulse of 110/min, and a respiratory rate of 26/min. Her oxygen saturation is 96% on room air. She has left facial swelling and decreased breath sounds bilaterally. She has heme-positive, brown stool and slightly diminished strength in all extremities. She has edema of the lower extremities. Laboratory studies show the following findings:

WBC: 22,000/mm3; hematocrit: 33%, platelets: 300,000/mm3; Na 136 mEq/L; K: 3.0 mEq/L; BUN: 62 mg/dL; creatinine: 3.8 mg/dL; C-ANCA: 1:160; P-ANCA negative; and ANA negative. Urinalysis shows: hemoglobin 3+, protein 2+, and erythrocyte casts. The chest x-ray shows a left lower lobe infiltrate.

Which of the following is the most accurate statement?

(A) Emergency dialysis is needed.
(B) Cyclophosphamide and glucocorticoids result in markedly improved patient survival and renal function survival.
(C) Cyclophosphamide and glucocorticoids result in markedly improved overall survival but does not alter course of renal disease.
(D) TMP/SMX should be started prior to other modalities.
(E) Glucocorticoid in pulse doses should be started as initial sole therapy.

Answer:

(B) Cyclophosphamide and glucocorticoids result in markedly improved patient survival and renal function survival.

Explanation:

This patient has Wegner's granulomatosis, which is evident by physical findings of upper and lower respiratory pathology, positive c-ANCA, renal insufficiency, and manifestations of vasculitis, such as heme-positive stool with abdominal pain. Although dialysis may be eventually needed, there is no indication for emergent dialysis at this time. Administration of cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids together has been shown to increase overall survival, as well as renal-function survival time. Treatment prevents progression of the disease but does not resolve disease. This regimen is superior to either agent when used alone. And although TMP/SMX may have a role in decreasing the incidence of exacerbations, its role in the acute setting is not well established.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 59

Question/Fact:

A 40-year-old woman presents with orthopnea and a 1-month history of hemoptysis. She reports that today she coughed up 20 milliliters of blood. The symptoms have limited her level of activity. She denies chest pain or weight loss. She does not smoke or use intravenous drugs. She experiences intermittent palpitations at rest. Her past medical history is significant for rheumatic fever as a teenager, peptic ulcer disease, and iron-deficiency anemia. Her blood pressure is 130/70 mm Hg, pulse is 66/min, and the respiratory rate is 18/min. Her physical examination is remarkable for a low-pitched, mid-diastolic murmur at the left sternal border and a loud S1. There is a mild pitting edema of the lower extremities. The chest x-ray shows mild congestion with a prominent pulmonary artery and a straight, left cardiac border. An EKG shows a normal sinus rhythm at 80/min, right ventricular hypertrophy, and broad, notched P waves. What would be the next best plan of action for this patient?

(A) Echocardiogram
(B) Cardiac catheterization
(C) Surgical evaluation for valve repair
(D) High-resolution computerized tomography (CT)
(E) Radionuclide ventriculogram (MUGA scan)

Answer:

(A) Echocardiogram

Explanation:

This patient has mitral stenosis based on the presence of a mid-diastolic murmur, a loud S1, and a history of rheumatic fever. Patients with mitral stenosis usually have symptoms of left-sided heart failure, such as dyspnea on exertion, orthopnea, and paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. They may also present with hemoptysis, hoarseness, and symptoms of right heart failure. Often, they remain asymptomatic until 10 to 20 years after the initial episode of rheumatic fever.

Echocardiography is the first noninvasive diagnostic tool for assessing the severity of mitral stenosis and the use of balloon valvotomy. The echocardiogram can determine the left atrial size, which, if enlarged, leads to a high likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation and systemic emboli. It can also exclude an atrial myxoma, which sometimes clinically resembles mitral stenosis.

Cardiac catheterization would be useful to determine a precise valve surface area, the gradient across the valve, and to evaluate the coronary arteries. Catheterization is the most precise method of evaluating pulmonary artery pressure, but it should be done after the initial echocardiogram. Mechanical relief of mitral stenosis by balloon dilation is indicated in this case because the patient is symptomatic with evidence of pulmonary hypertension and limitation of activity. This would only be done after evaluation of the valve with an echocardiogram.

Computerized tomography (CT) of the chest, especially with high-resolution technique, would be useful if primary pulmonary hypertension was suspected and in cases of interstitial lung disease, pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, or intravascular tumors. Diuretics are usually effective in lowering left atrial pressure and reducing mild symptoms. There is no other medial therapy for mitral stenosis.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 60

Question/Fact:

A 52-year-old man presents to the emergency department with complaints of dyspnea, fever, headache, skin itching, and joint pains for the past four days. He noticed a decrease in his urine output as well. He denies pain on urination. He has a history of mild diabetes, which was diagnosed one year ago and is controlled with diet, and benign prostate hypertrophy. The patient has recently been diagnosed with a seizure disorder and has recently been started on phenytoin. His other medication is tamsulosin.

On physical examination, the patient looks somewhat somnolent and cannot clearly state the present date. His temperature is 101.4 F, blood pressure is 168/88 mm Hg, respiratory rate is 25/min, and pulse is 98/min. The examination is significant for a pinkish, generalized maculopapular rash, jugulovenous distention, and basilar rales two thirds of the way up bilaterally. The throat is normal. Cardiac sounds are normal, and the abdomen is soft with no pain on palpation. There is no costovertebral angle tenderness.

White cell count 13,400/mm3, neutrophils 78%, lymphocytes 16%, eosinophils 8%; hematocrit 38.6%; sodium 137 mEq/L; potassium 5.9 mEq/L; bicarbonate 18 mEq/L, BUN 156 mg/dL; creatinine 9.5 mg/dL. Urinalysis shows many red cells, white cells >50/hpf, protein 2+, and white cell casts.

What is the best initial therapy of this patient?

(A) Methylprednisolone
(B) Vigorous hydration
(C) Hemodialysis
(D) Cyclophosphamide
(E) Plasma exchange

Answer:

(C) Hemodialysis

Explanation:

This patient has features of acute interstitial nephritis most likely caused from the recently started phenytoin. Drugs account for 70% of acute interstitial nephritis. The most common drugs are penicillin, rifampin, cephalosporins, sulfonamides, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), phenytoin, and allopurinol. These are the medications, in general, that people are allergic to. The process that goes on in the kidney is a reflection of the generalized rash and eosinophilia that can occur from the same drugs in general.

Other causes are streptococcal infections, cytomegalovirus, histoplasmosis, leptospirosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, systemic lupus erythmatous, Sjögren's syndrome, sarcoidosis, and cryoglobulinemia. In other words, virtually any infection or connective tissue disease can cause allergic interstitial nephritis.

Clinical features include fever, rash, and arthralgias. The diagnosis is also suggested by the eosinophilia and eosinophiluria. The urine contains both red and white cells, as well as white-cell or eosinophil casts. Proteinuria can be present, especially in NSAID-induced interstitial nephritis. The usual urinalysis will only tell you if white cells are present. Eosinophiluria must be specifically looked for by using special stains of the urine, such as the Wright's stain. The prognosis is usually good, and many cases resolve spontaneously. Treatment consists of supportive measures, removal of the damaging agent, and in severe, progressive cases, short-term, high-dose steroid use. Dialysis is still the first step in this patient because the patient has hyperkalemia, volume overload, metabolic acidosis, and encephalopathy. We need to start dialysis and keep the patient alive long enough to have a chance to respond to withdrawal of the phenytoin and possibly improve with steroid use.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 61

Question/Fact:

A 56-year-old man presents to your office complaining of fatigue and persistent joint pain for three months. His past medical history is significant for hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and hepatitis C from injection drug use in the distant past. He has not been treated for hepatitis. He has no drug allergies.

His physical examination is remarkable for a right ventricular heave and a soft holosystolic murmur at the right sternal border. His abdomen is soft, with a liver edge palpable three centimeters below the costal margin and splenomegaly. There are purpuric lesions on his skin. There is no joint deformity or muscle atrophy. Laboratory studies reveal the following:

Hemoglobin 12 g/dL; platelets 410,000/mm3; BUN 47 mg/dL; creatinine 3.2 mg/dL; glucose 130 mg/dL, serum bicarbonate 20 mEq/L; total bilirubin 1.2 mg/dL; AST 88 U/L; ALT 110 U/L.

C3 and C4 levels are low. Rheumatoid factor is positive at a high titer.

Urinalysis -- protein 3+, hemoglobin 1+, with 50 red cells and no white cells or casts.

Immunofluorescence of the renal biopsy shows large glomerular intracapillary deposits, with granular subendothelial deposits outlining the glomerular capillary walls.

What would be the next appropriate step in the management of this patient?

(A) Kidney transplant
(B) Hemodialysis
(C) Prednisone
(D) Interferon and ribavirin
(E) Cyclophosphamide

Answer:

(D) Interferon and ribavirin

Explanation:

This patient seems to have glomerulonephritis from cryoglobulinemia secondary to the chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). Systemic manifestations of cryoglobulinemia include fatigue, arthralgias, hepatomegaly, Raynaud's phenomenon, mononeuritis, and purpuric skin lesions. Most patients with HCV-associated cryoglobulinemia are treated with antiviral agents, such as interferon and ribavirin to control the infection. Cryoglobulinemia from other causes ("essential cryoglobulinemia") is treated with high-dose steroids, cytotoxic medications, and plasmapheresis when it is acute and severe. Dialysis and transplantation can be used when the disease is extremely severe, but recurrences in the allograft can occur in 50 to 70% of cases. Cryoglobulinemia is a pathologic condition caused by the production of circulating immunoglobulins that precipitate upon cooling. It is associated with a variety of infections, collagen vascular diseases (such as lupus), and lymphoproliferative diseases (such as myeloma and Waldenström's macroglobulinemia). The diagnosis is made by demonstrating circulating cryoglobulins in patients with palpable purpura, renal insufficiency, and hypocomplementemia. Hypocomplementemia, especially of C4, is a helpful finding. The rheumatoid factor can function as a "surrogate marker" for cryoglobulins. The actual test for cryoglobulins can be difficult because of technical reasons. A positive result is only manifest when the serum is cold. If the serum is warm when the test is run, it will be falsely negative. Therefore, a positive rheumatoid factor can be found more easily as a marker of the presence of cryoglobulins. Recent studies have documented the hepatitis C virus as a major cause of cryoglobulin production in most patients previously believed to have essential mixed cryoglobulinemia.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 62

Question/Fact:

A 40-year-old man returns to the office because of sinusitis that did not respond to a second course of antibiotics. At this time, he also complains cough, shortness of breath, and malaise. On physical examination, his temperature is 37.7 C, pulse is 88/min, respiratory rate is 18/min, and blood pressure is 110/65 mm Hg. You notice slight left eye proptosis. There is also mild tenderness over the maxillary sinuses. On auscultation of the lungs, there are bilateral basilar crackles. The heart examination is normal. Laboratory values reveal: WBC 10,500/mm3, hematocrit 37%, platelets 440,000/mm3. Urinalysis shows protein 2+, and red cell casts are present.

The chest x-ray shows multiple bilateral infiltrates with cavities and hilar adenopathy. C-ANCA is positive. Which of the following statements is true?

(A) This patient has an increased risk of malignant lymphoma
(B) Chronic nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus has been reported to be associated with a higher relapse rate of the disease presenting here
(C) The presenting disease is more common among blacks
(D) If the disease does not involve the kidney, the sensitivity of C-ANCA increases from 70 to 90%
(E) Pulmonary tissue obtained by thoracotomy is less specific than biopsy of the upper airway

Answer:

(B) Chronic nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus has been reported to be associated with a higher relapse rate of the disease presenting here

Explanation:

Chronic nasal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus has been reported to be associated with a higher relapse rate of Wegener's granulomatosis. There is, however, no evidence for a direct role of this organism in the pathogenesis of the disease. Wegener's is not associated with an increased risk of lymphoma. The presence of C-ANCA in Wegener's granulomatosis proves extremely helpful in its differentiation from lymphoid granulomatosis. Further, Wegener's is extremely rare in blacks compared with whites. The male:female ratio is 1:1. In typical Wegener's granulomatosis with granulomatous vasculitis of the respiratory tract and glomerulonephritis, approximately 90% of patients have a positive C-ANCA. In the absence of renal disease, the sensitivity of C-ANCA testing drops to approximately 70%. Pulmonary tissue, preferably obtained by open thoracotomy, offers the highest diagnostic yield and almost invariably reveals granulomatous vasculitis. Upper airway tissue biopsy usually reveals granulomatous inflammation with necrosis but may not show vasculitis.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 63

Question/Fact:

A 38-year-old woman presents with pain in both wrists and fingers for the past six months. She was previously started on NSAIDs and initially improved; however, now she comes back with worsening joint pain and the new onset of low back pain for the last two weeks. She has difficulty getting out of bed and has morning stiffness. She has a temperature of 99.4 F. Both hands have distal interphalangeal joint swelling and wrist tenderness. She also has pitting and onycholysis of the nails. On her scalp she has small, several, two-centimeter, scaly lesions. Her lower back is nontender. On laboratory examination, she has a hematocrit of 34% and an ESR of 60 mm/h. Her HLA-B27 is positive with a negative rheumatoid factor. X-rays of the hands and wrists show periosteal new bone formation along the shafts of metacarpals. She is started on a new medication and sent home. She comes back after two weeks with worsening of the joint pains and exfoliative skin lesions on the scalp. What are these symptoms most likely caused by?

(A) Gold salts
(B) Hydroxychloroquine
(C) Sulfasalazine
(D) Methotrexate
(E) Steroids

Answer:

(B) Hydroxychloroquine

Explanation:

This patient presents with psoriatic arthritis, which improved with NSAIDs for a period of about 6 months. She came back with worsening joint pain and scaly lesions of the scalp. This is the time when disease-modifying medications have to be started. The patient was most likely started on hydroxychloroquine. Although hydroxychloroquine is often successful in producing either amelioration or remission of the disease, it carries a significant risk of the exacerbation of psoriasis and subsequent worsening exfoliation. Sulfasalazine has very good efficacy in psoriatic arthritis. For more severe cases of psoriatic arthritis with exfoliation and arthritis, 5 to 25 mg of methotrexate per week is recommended, along with folic acid to prevent hematological complications. Steroids are not used and are not categorized as disease-modifying drugs in psoriatic arthritis. Intramuscular gold can be used weekly as a disease-modifying drug. None of the other drugs are known to cause worsening of exfoliation, besides the antimalarial medications.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 64

Question/Fact:

A 43-year-old woman comes to your clinic complaining of weakness and tingling of her lower extremities bilaterally over the last several days. Several years ago, she experienced an episode of blurry vision that resolved spontaneously. An MRI of the brain shows multiple, periventricular, white-matter lesions. What is the next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Interferon beta-1b
(B) Oral prednisone
(C) High-dose intravenous steroids
(D) Amantadine
(E) Glatiramer acetate

Answer:

(C) High-dose intravenous steroids

Explanation:

High-dose steroids given intravenously are the treatment of choice for acutely exacerbating multiple sclerosis (MS). This is the best drug to arrest an acute exacerbation of the disease. Oral prednisone is generally not recommended because it increases the risk of subsequent symptoms in patients with MS and optic neuritis. Interferon and glatiramer acetate are used to arrest progression of the disease in relapsing /remitting disease and secondarily progressive disease. These therapies have no place in the management of acute disease. There is no known therapy to arrest the progression of MS in the primary, progressive form of the disease. Amantadine is used to treat fatigue in patients with MS.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 65

Question/Fact:

A 56-year-old woman with a history of heart failure and dilated cardiomyopathy from ischemic heart disease presents to your office complaining of fatigue. She denies chest pain or palpitations. She was started on a minimal dose of carvedilol three weeks ago. She tolerated it well, and you were able to increase the dose of this medication. Currently, she is taking a maximal dose of lisinopril and carvedilol. However, after the last adjustment of her medications, she gained 3 kg and has increased shortness of breath. Today her heart rate is 78/min and her blood pressure is 110/80 mm Hg. On physical examination, the patient has mild jugulovenous distension, and there is no evidence of peripheral edema. EKG shows normal sinus rhythm and nonspecific ST changes. Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Refer for transplantation evaluation
(B) Start furosemide
(C) Initiate therapy with digoxin
(D) Stop carvedilol
(E) Decrease the dose of carvedilol

Answer:

(B) Start furosemide

Explanation:

This patient with a history of congestive heart failure (CHF) has signs of fluid overload, manifested by increased shortness of breath and weight gain. Evidence strongly suggests that beta-blockers prolong the survival of such patients, who then should be instructed to monitor their weight at home and to report any increase or change in symptoms immediately. The administration of a diuretic will often relieve volume overload and allow patients to continue beta-blockers. Carvedilol, because of its alpha-blocking activity, may cause dizziness or hypotension. The benefits from beta-blockers may not be evident immediately and can take 2 to 4 months to become evident. Although digoxin is useful in symptomatic patients, particularly those not controlled with ACE inhibitors, this patient's main problem seems directly related to fluid retention and weight gain; it is not a problem with worsening contractility. It is premature to refer for transplantation until you have used the maximal medical therapy from all classes. Besides that, you would need to start the diuretic anyway while you wait for the availability of a matched organ.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 66

Question/Fact:

A 48-year-old man presents to the emergency department complaining of blurred vision, shortness of breath, and penile pain. He also complains of fatigue, night sweats, and low-grade fevers on and off for the past month. He has noticed that his abdomen has become increasingly larger despite the same dietary habits. On physical examination, the patient appears mildly lethargic. Vital signs are: blood pressure 120/80 mm Hg, oral temperature 99.8 F, heart rate 88/min, and respiratory rate 24/min. Splenomegaly is present, as well as a tender, erect penis and sternal tenderness.

Initial laboratory studies reveal the following:

White cell count 187,000/mm3, hemoglobin 14 mg/dL, hematocrit 42%, platelets 230,000/mm3. The chest x-ray is normal.

What is the next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Busulfan
(B) Leukapheresis
(C) Allogeneic bone-marrow transplant
(D) Hydroxyurea
(E) Daunorubicin and cytosine arabinoside (cytarabine)

Answer:

(B) Leukapheresis

Explanation:

One may notice that there was no differential given for the markedly elevated white blood cell count. That is because it would not alter the next step in therapy, which is leukapheresis. The patient has a markedly elevated white cell count and severe signs of sludging in the vasculature, such as lethargy, confusion, blurred vision, dyspnea, and priapism. The most rapid way to lower the cell count is with leukapheresis. Hydroxyurea is very good at lowering the cell count and can be used orally but will still need days to work. Busulfan is an antiquated drug that was used in the past to do the same thing. Busulfan is less effective than hydroxyurea and causes permanent pulmonary fibrosis. (When you see busulfan in a therapy question, it is always a wrong answer.) Although an allogeneic transplant may eventually be needed for AML, CML, or ALL, you would never do this first. Transplants are performed after chemotherapy is used to induce a remission. Daunorubicin and cytosine arabinoside (cytarabine) are used as initial therapy in AML. The same reasoning is true as that described for CML. The patient may need these drugs later, but they do not act as rapidly as leukapheresis.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 67

Question/Fact:

A 22-year-old woman who was diagnosed as having a seizure disorder 1 year ago comes to see you after having had a seizure. The patient was told that she just "freezes and stares." This is followed by a period when she is confused and does not remember what happened. This is the eighth seizure she has had, even though she has been taking her valproic acid (Depakote) regularly. Phenytoin and carbamazepine have failed to control her seizures in the past. She has a CT scan of the head that is normal. An EEG shows right-sided temporal spikes. She is afebrile with normal vital signs. There are no focal neurological deficits. Laboratory studies of CBC, liver-function tests, electrolytes, and a urine toxicology screen are all normal. The valproic acid levels are in the therapeutic range. An MRI shows high-signal intensity on T2-weighted images in the right hippocampus. What is the next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Stop valproic acid and start phenobarbital
(B) Add lamotrigine
(C) Add gabapentin
(D) Surgical intervention
(E) Vagus nerve stimulation

Answer:

(B) Add lamotrigine

Explanation:

This patient has mesial temporal lobe epilepsy syndrome (MTLE), which is associated with complex partial seizures. Distinctive clinical, electroencephalographic, and pathological features define this syndrome. There is usually a history of febrile seizures and a family history of seizures. The seizures may remit and reappear. Auras are common. Such patients usually have unilateral posturing, complex automatisms, behavioral arrest/stare, and postictal disorientation, memory loss, and dysphasia with a dominant hemisphere focus. Laboratory studies show unilateral or bilateral anterior temporal spikes on EEG. There are also material-specific memory deficits on the amobarbital (Wada) test. MRI scans of the brain show characteristic hippocampal lesions. Most cases have a loss, pathologically, of specific cell populations within the hippocampus. Recognition of this syndrome is especially important because it tends to be refractory to treatment with anticonvulsants but responds well to surgical intervention.

This patient has failed to respond to single anti-epileptic drugs and has to be tried on a combination of drugs. Initial combination therapy combines first-line drugs, such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, valproic acid, and lamotrigine. If these are unsuccessful, then the addition of newer drugs like topiramate or gabapentin is indicated. In other words, lamotrigine should be tried before gabapentin. Surgical treatment is considered for those who have failed medical therapy. Vagal-nerve stimulation is a new treatment for patients with medically refractory epilepsy who are not candidates for brain surgery. There is nothing stated in this case that would be a contraindication to surgery. Rather than submitting the patient to years of unsuccessful medical therapy and the psychosocial trauma of ongoing seizures, there should be a brief but aggressive attempt at medical therapy and then a referral for surgical therapy. Phenobarbital is no longer used as a first-line agent because of its side-effect profile, unless there are no other options.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 68

Question/Fact:

A 63-year-old woman is brought to the hospital after she developed weakness in her left arm and leg. One week ago, she had a headache, which was extremely severe but improved by the following day. She also had a mild headache about two weeks ago. Her past medical history is significant for hypertension. The patient is somewhat obtunded but still able to answer questions. She complains of headache, mostly in the occipital area, as well as nausea. Her blood pressure is 130/80 mm Hg. Physical examination reveals mild nuchal rigidity and a positive Kernig's sign. There is hemiparesis on the left side, with motor strength of 4/5. A CT scan of the head without contrast shows some cortical atrophy and an old lacunar infarct in the area of the right internal capsule. Lumbar puncture reveals yellow fluid with 28/mm3 white cells, which are 80% lymphocytes, and 25,000/mm3 red cells, as well as the presence of xanthochromia. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) of the head and neck does not show any abnormalities. Oral nimodipine is started. What is the next step?

(A) Start e-aminocaproic acid
(B) Repeat MRA in one week
(C) Volume expansion therapy
(D) Start mannitol
(E) Four-vessel cerebral angiogram

Answer:

(E) Four-vessel cerebral angiogram

Explanation:

This patient presents with a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), most likely caused by an aneurysm rupture. Typically, the initial symptom is the sudden onset of severe headache. The patient may also lose consciousness because of the sudden rise in intracranial pressure. Milder but similar headaches may occur in the weeks prior to the main event. These earlier headaches are probably the result of small prodromal hemorrhages known as "sentinel hemorrhages," or aneurysmal stretches. SAH is also the result of rupture of a saccular aneurysm at sites of arterial bifurcation or branching. Associated conditions include polycystic kidney disease, Marfan's syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and coarctation of aorta. Other types of aneurysms occur along the trunk of the internal carotid, vertebral, or basilar arteries. Focal neurological deficits can occur a few days after the initial event, which are caused by vasospasm resulting from the presence of blood in the subarachnoid space.

A CT scan is the initial procedure of choice. If the CT scan is not diagnostic, a lumbar puncture is indicated to confirm the diagnosis. Early surgery is indicated for ruptured aneurysms, so angiography should be done shortly after admission. MRA can be used as a screening tool in familial cases. In our case, the CT scan is negative, which does not absolutely exclude a SAH. The sensitivity of the CT scan is 95% at the time of bleeding, but the sensitivity decreases 5% for each day after the bleed. Hence, after a week, the sensitivity of a CT scan in this patient is only 60 to 70%. MRA and even traditional angiography may be negative initially, which is explained by obliteration of the lesions by thrombosis. A repeat angiogram is indicated in a few weeks and would have a higher sensitivity when the clot resolves. In our case, the traditional four-vessel angiogram would be the right answer because of its higher sensitivity. We have to establish a specific diagnosis immediately because we want to either surgically clip or embolize the lesion by placing a platinum wire coil inside the lesion. Fifty percent of those who rebleed will die.

Mannitol is not useful in a subarrachnoid hemorrhage. Volume-expansion therapy is effective for treatment of vasospasm but increases the risk of rebleeding. Ideally, it should be started after the aneurysm has been clipped or when the patient continues to worsen despite the use of nimodipine. Aminocaproic acid is an inhibitor of fibrinolysis that can be used in patients with coagulopathies who continue to bleed.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 69

Question/Fact:

A 35-year-old woman with no significant past medical history presents for her initial prenatal visit with an annoying pain in her perineum for the past week. She claims that she has had unprotected intercourse only with her husband. The patient is allergic to penicillin, and she had developed difficulty in breathing and a severe rash after taking amoxicillin for an upper respiratory infection three years ago. Her examination is remarkable for a 0.5 × 0.5 cm2, clean, ulcerated genital lesion, which is tender without an exudate. There are no palpable lymph nodes. The RPR is positive at a titer of 1:64, and the FTA is positive. What is the best management in this patient?

(A) Doxycycline
(B) Penicillin desensitization, then benzathine penicillin G 2.4 million units once
(C) Erythromycin
(D) Hold treatment until delivery
(E) Diphenhydramine then benzanthine penicillin G, 2.4 million units once
(F) Ceftriaxone

Answer:

(B) Penicillin desensitization, then benzathine penicillin G 2.4 million units once

Explanation:

This patient has primary syphilis. She has a genital ulcer, a positive RPR at a high titer, and a positive FTA. Even though this is syphilis, the chancres can sometimes be tender. Pregnant patients should receive penicillin following the dosage schedule appropriate for the stage of syphilis in the same manner as recommended for nonpregnant patients. If the patient has a well-documented penicillin allergy, as this patient does, the recommendation is for penicillin desensitization until a full dose is tolerated. Doxycycline should not be used in a pregnant patient for any disease because of possible harm to the fetus. Erythromycin should not be used because it is not proven to effectively cure the fetus. You cannot hold therapy until delivery because the baby will have a much higher likelihood of developing permanent neurological deficits. You can't just give an antihistamine before penicillin in a patient with a severe allergy. The antihistamine gives insufficient efficacy in preventing serious allergic reactions. Ceftriaxone has not been proven to be effective in congenital syphilis.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 70

Question/Fact:

A 27-year-old man is brought by his friends to the emergency room. They tell you that they were all at a party, having a great time, when the patient suddenly collapsed. He had some facial twitching and "weird body movements." They were drinking alcohol and saw that some people at the party were taking pills. He has a history of depression. He has a temperature of 100.9 F, with a blood pressure of 164/94 mm Hg. He is awake but seems confused. His pupils are equal and 7 mm in diameter. He has dry mucous membranes and normal heart, lung, and abdominal examinations. His EKG shows a sinus tachycardia at a rate of 112/min. The PR interval is 180 milliseconds, and the QRS interval is 150 milliseconds. What would be the initial treatment of choice in the management of this patient?

(A) Phenytoin
(B) Sodium bicarbonate
(C) Ipecac
(D) Gastric lavage
(E) Physostigmine

Answer:

(B) Sodium bicarbonate

Explanation:

This patient most likely has an overdose of tricyclic antidepressants (TCA). This patient exhibits anticholinergic side effects, along with being postictal, and there is evidence of cardiotoxicity with QRS prolongation secondary to TCA ingestion. Sodium bicarbonate should be given as a bolus following a seizure and as an infusion to maintain a serum pH of 7.40 to 7.50 in patients with QRS prolongation. Acidosis increases the likelihood of arrhythmia and should be corrected. Administration of phenytoin is of uncertain benefit, and seizures should be treated with benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Administration of syrup of ipecac is contraindicated with tricyclic ingestion because of the risk of seizures and subsequent aspiration. Gastric lavage is indicated in comatose patients with massive ingestions of toxic substances -- but only if it is clear that the ingestion occurred within the past two hours. Physostigmine is given in situations of mild poisoning with anticholinergic agents in which the EKG is normal and there are anticholinergic effects, such as agitation and hallucinations. Physostigmine is contraindicated in the presence of cardiac-conduction defects or ventricular arrhythmias because it can cause asystole.

Topic:

Poisoning

Record # 71

Question/Fact:

A 65-year-old man from Chernobyl comes to the clinic with complaints of fever, productive cough, and weight loss for the last six months. He has no past medical history and is on no medications. His chest x-ray shows a right pleural effusion extending about halfway up the chest. Thoracentesis reveals: glucose 50 mg/dL, LDH 200 U/L, protein 4.5 g/dL, amylase 1.6 U/L. Cell count reveals 1,000 red cells/mL, with 6,000 white cells. The differential on the white cells is: neutrophils 10%, lymphocytes 80%, and monocytes 10%. The sputum stain is negative for acid-fast bacilli on three examinations. The sputum cytological evaluation does not reveal malignant cells. The V/Q scan is indeterminate on the right side because of the large pleural effusion, but there are no ventilation-perfusion mismatches elsewhere. What is the most accurate diagnostic test?

(A) Pleural-fluid culture for mycobacteria
(B) Pleural-fluid analysis for mycobacteria by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
(C) PPD
(D) Biopsy of pleura
(E) Adenosine deaminase level

Answer:

(D) Biopsy of pleura

Explanation:

The initial step in the evaluation of pleural effusion is to determine whether it is an exudate or a transudate. Exudates are generally caused by infections or cancer. Transudates are usually caused by problems with hydrostatic forces, such as congestive failure, cirrhosis, or nephrotic syndrome. This patient's effusion is an exudate based on the high LDH and protein levels in the fluid. When the pleural-fluid glucose level is less then 60 mg/dL, empyema or malignancy should be considered, although rheumatoid arthritis is also associated with a profoundly low pleural-fluid glucose level. Patients with an elevated amylase in the pleural fluid may have pancreatitis or an esophageal rupture. If the diagnosis is not apparent after these studies, an occult pulmonary embolism should be considered, especially if the fluid is bloody.

When a patient has a marked lymphocytic pleocytosis in the pleural fluid, you should suspect tuberculosis even if there are negative sputum stains for acid-fast bacilli (AFB). The most accurate test of those listed in this question for pulmonary tuberculosis is pleural biopsy. This is particularly true when there is a pleural effusion when repeated biopsies reach a sensitivity of >90%. Tissue examination is far more sensitive than pleural-fluid culture. A PPD would be completely nonspecific in a man from Russia who would almost certainly have a positive test anyway. Adenosine deaminase is elevated in third-space fluid collections from tuberculosis, such as the pleural, peritoneum, and pericardium. It is not as sensitive or specific as the pleural biopsy.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 72

Question/Fact:

A 56-year-old Caucasian woman presents to your office complaining of progressive, right upper quadrant abdominal pain of one week's duration. The pain is accompanied by nausea, fatigue, joint pain, and dyspnea on exertion over the past month. She has a past medical history of type 2 diabetes mellitus and chronic renal insufficiency. She denies fever, chills, or diarrhea. On physical examination she appears thin and has a bronze coloration of her skin. Vital signs are normal. Examination of her neck reveals a steadily rising jugular venous pressure during inspiration. Cardiac examination is remarkable for an S3 gallop. The lungs are clear to auscultation, and the liver is nontender and palpable 3 cm below the costal margin. She has a bilateral 1+ pitting edema of the extremities. Chest x-ray reveals pulmonary congestion with an enlarged heart. The EKG shows a normal sinus rhythm with a rate of 86/min, nonspecific ST-T wave abnormalities, and low QRS voltage in all leads. Echocardiogram reveals mildly reduced left ventricular function. Laboratory studies show: amylase 34 U/L, AST 98 U/L, ALT 60 U/L, total bilirubin 1.0 mg/dL, direct bilirubin 0.2 mg/dL, and glucose 260 mg/dL. What would be the next appropriate diagnostic test to order?

(A) CT scan of the chest to evaluate the pericardium
(B) Ferritin, total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)
(C) Persantine thallium test
(D) Cardiac catheterization

Answer:

(B) Ferritin, total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)

Explanation:

This patient most likely has cardiomyopathy from hemochromatosis. The patient is presenting with signs of both liver dysfunction and congestive heart failure. Her liver is enlarged but nontender with a mild elevation in her transaminases. In addition, she has signs of biventricular cardiac dysfunction. The signs of right-sided heart failure, beside the dyspnea, are the edema and an elevation of jugular venous pressure on inspiration, or Kussmaul's sign. The left ventricle has diminished function on the echocardiogram, as well as an S3 gallop, and congestion is seen on the chest x-ray. Hemochromatosis leads to the accumulation of iron in the liver, heart, joints, pancreas, pituitary gland, skin, and gonads. Although hemochromatosis leads to restrictive cardiomyopathy, the most common cause of death is from cirrhosis and hepatic carcinoma. Iron also accumulates in the pancreas, leading to diabetes. The term "bronze diabetes" is highly suggestive of hemochromatosis.

Although a CT scan of the chest can be used to detect constrictive pericarditis, this disorder would not lead to diminished left ventricular dysfunction on the echocardiogram. A Persantine thallium test is excellent for detecting ischemia in a patient who is unable to exercise. The information obtained by this test in a patient with cardiomyopathy is nonspecific. Cardiac catheterization for biopsy is not necessary because other tests of iron stores are far less invasive and strongly suggest the diagnosis; therefore, the ferritin and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) are most useful to order next. You should expect to see a transferring saturation rate of >50% and an elevated serum ferritin. A liver biopsy looking for iron stores would be the most specific test.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 73

Question/Fact:

A 28-year-old woman comes in for routine management of her hypothyroidism, which has been controlled with levothyroxine 100 μg per day. She does not use either alcohol or tobacco products. She feels fine but thinks she is pregnant. The physical examination is unremarkable, and the urine pregnancy test is positive. What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Increase her levothyroxine to 150 μg/day
(B) Check the free T4 and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels
(C) Maintain the same dose of levothyroxine throughout the pregnancy
(D) Decrease the levothyroxine to 50 μg/day

Answer:

(B) Check the free T4 and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels

Explanation:

This question focuses on the relationship between hypothyroidism and pregnancy. When a woman with hypothyroidism becomes pregnant, her requirement for the hormone increases. Usually, one may have to increase the dose of levothyroxine by 50%. You should then adjust it according to the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). You should first check a baseline level of the free T4 and TSH in order to know where you stand at baseline to guide your therapy. In pregnancy, there is an increase in the level of thyroid-binding globulin, which can artificially elevate the level of T4; this is why we should use the free T4 level to evaluate the true function of the gland. Postpartum, all dose requirements usually return to their prepregnancy levels.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 74

Question/Fact:

A 30-year-old woman comes to the clinic because of an inflamed and painful right eye. She states that she was fine until three days ago, when she noticed that her vision was blurry. She usually wears contact lenses and thought they may be the source of her complaints. Physical examination shows a very teary, uncomfortable person. There is some inflammation of the conjunctiva and chemosis. Fluorescein staining reveals a corneal dendritic ulcer. What is the most appropriate therapy?

(A) Topical steroids
(B) Switch brands of contact lens cleaning solution
(C) Systemic steroids
(D) Topical trifluridine
(E) Topical polymyxin

Answer:

(D) Topical trifluridine

Explanation:

This patient presents with a dendritic ulcer, which is almost always caused by a herpes infection. Sometimes they can be caused by corneal abrasions or excessive use of contact lenses. If this were simply a reaction to the contact lens solution, there would not be a dendritic pattern visible on fluorescein staining. A herpetic, dendritic ulcer usually presents with a painful eye, visual blurring, and conjunctival inflammation. The treatment is with ophthalmic trifluridine and acyclovir for about 10 days. Corticosteroids are absolutely contraindicated because they may worsen it. These patients should be referred to an ophthalmologist.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 75

Question/Fact:

A 38-year-old, HIV-positive woman finds out that someone at her workplace has tuberculosis. Her PPD at employee health is negative. Her chest x-ray is now normal, and her PPD last year was negative. What should you do next for her?

(A) Nothing further is required
(B) Repeat the PPD in three months
(C) Start isoniazid and stop in three months if the tuberculosis skin test (PPD) is negative
(D) Start isoniazid for a full nine months
(E) Yearly chest x-rays

Answer:

(D) Start isoniazid for a full nine months

Explanation:

If a patient has been exposed to tuberculosis (TB), and the tuberculosis skin test (PPD) is negative, you do not have to do a chest x-ray. The PPD should be repeated at three months. Most patients who have been exposed to TB and who are going to develop a positive PPD will do so within three months of the exposure, and the PPD should be repeated at 12 weeks. So, she should have the repeat test. However, it is more important to start treatment with isoniazid. There is no reason to give isoniazid to most patients if the PPD is negative. The only exception to this rule is in small children under two years of age who can have a serious exposure but still have a negative PPD because of immature T cells. The other exception is an HIV-positive patient with profound immunosupression and a very low T-cell count who has a serious exposure, such as someone in their own household. There is no routine indication for yearly chest x-rays in any population. Any person with a newly positive PPD should get a chest x-ray. This person's test, however, was negative.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 76

Question/Fact:

A 50-year-old man comes in for management of gout that was originally diagnosed six months ago He has gouty attacks approximately once a month in his left great toe. He was started on daily colchicine several months ago and was told to avoid high-purine foods. He has a history of insulin-dependent diabetes for 20 years, which has been well maintained. Laboratory studies show: BUN 42 mg/dL; creatinine 2.6 mg/dL; uric acid level 8 mg/dL (normal 2.5-7.5 mg/dL) one month ago. What additional medication may be indicated in light of his history?

(A) Probenecid
(B) Allopurinol
(C) Methotrexate
(D) Ibuprofen
(E) Prednisone

Answer:

(B) Allopurinol

Explanation:

Allopurinol is a xanthine-oxidase inhibitor that promptly lowers plasma-urate and urinary uric-acid concentrations. It is of special value in uric acid overproducers, tophaceous gout, and in patients unresponsive to uricosuric agents. Allopurinol is also helpful in patients with uric-acid renal stones. It should be used in low doses in patients with renal insufficiency. The patient is already on low-dose colchicine on a daily basis. He should be continued on this medicine because in an older patient with occasional attacks, this may be all that is needed to prevent recurrences. Colchicine should be used once a day in moderate renal insufficiency, such as in this patient's case.

Probenecid is a uricosuric drug that is contraindicated in this patient because the creatinine level is elevated above 2 mg/dL. Probenecid and sulfinpyrazone are two uricosuric drugs that may be used with normal renal function. NSAIDs are used for the treatment of an acute attack and are relatively contraindicated with impaired renal function, as in this case. Steroids should be used in the case of an acute attack for those patients unable to take NSAIDs. Methotrexate does not help at all.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 77

Question/Fact:

A 29-year-old man comes to see you because of difficulty with drooling and a unilateral dry eye. On physical examination, he has unilateral facial palsy. He lives in Massachusetts and frequently goes trekking in the mountains. His serologic test is positive for an IgM antibody to Borrelia burgdorferi. What is the most appropriate management?

(A) Repeat the serology in four weeks
(B) Perform a lumbar puncture
(C) Oral doxycycline for three weeks
(D) Intravenous ceftriaxone

Answer:

(C) Oral doxycycline for three weeks

Explanation:

The patient has facial palsy because of Lyme disease. Facial palsy is adequately treated with oral doxycycline. The positive IgM antibody test for Borrelia burgdorferi has sufficient specificity in this case to indicate the need for therapy. A repeat test is not necessary. In the absence of other neurologic abnormalities, a lumbar puncture is not necessary. Intravenous therapy does not give a greater efficacy when compared with oral doxycycline.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 78

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old woman with a 10-week history of rheumatoid arthritis presents with persistent pain and swelling of her hands and knees. She also has generalized fatigue and weakness. She reports a mild improvement of her symptoms after starting rofecoxib, prednisone, and physical therapy but still has more than 1 hour of stiffness upon awakening each morning. She has a history of macular degeneration and peptic ulcer disease. On physical examination, she has tenderness and soft-tissue proliferation of the proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints. This is symmetrical bilaterally, with limited flexion and extension of both wrists. There is fluid in each knee and soft-tissue swelling. Laboratory tests show a hemoglobin concentration of 10.2 g/dL, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate is 45 mm/h. Kidney and liver function tests are normal. What therapy should be started in this patient?

(A) Naproxen
(B) Methotrexate
(C) Hydroxychloroquine
(D) Infliximab
(E) Intra-articular glucocorticoids

Answer:

(B) Methotrexate

Explanation:

The first step in medical management of rheumatoid arthritis is the use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the symptoms and signs of the local inflammatory process. COX-2-specific inhibitors, such as celecoxib and rofecoxib, suppress the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis as effectively as does classic COX-nonspecific NSAIDs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, but are associated with a significantly reduced incidence of gastrointestinal ulceration. This suggests that COX-2-specific inhibitors might be considered instead of classic COX-nonspecific NSAIDs in persons with an increased risk of NSAID-induced upper gastrointestinal side effects, such as those with a history of peptic ulcer disease and persons receiving glucocorticoids or anticoagulants. The patient in this question has a history of peptic ulcer disease, and that is why she is on rofecoxib.

Disease-modifying agents appear to have the capacity to decrease elevated levels of acute-phase reactants and, therefore, are thought to modify the inflammatory component of rheumatoid arthritis. Most rheumatologists recommend the use of methotrexate as the initial DMARD in individuals with evidence of aggressive rheumatoid arthritis. Aggressive disease is characterized by fever, weight loss, or joint erosions on x-rays. Cyclophosphamide appears to be no more effective than other DMARDs and causes a variety of toxic side effects. Cyclophosphamide also appears to predispose the patient to the development of a malignant neoplasm. It is used only for patients who have clearly failed therapy with the other DMARDs (i.e., methotrexate or hydroxychloroquine). Infliximab is also remarkably effective at controlling the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in patients who failed DMARD therapy, and it has far less adverse effects than cyclophosphamide. Intra-articular glucocorticoids can often provide transient symptomatic relief when systemic medical therapy has failed to resolve inflammation. Hydroxychloroquine can be used as a DMARD as well. It should not be used in this specific patient because she has severe disease and a history of macular degeneration. Hydroxychloroquine can cause additional retinal lesions.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 79

Question/Fact:

A 76-year-old woman comes to the emergency department after falling in her house. The daughter witnessed the episode and states that her mother fell on her left side but did not pass out or hit her head. Her mother had a hard time getting to her feet and had to be helped up. The patient denies dizziness, palpitations, or loss of consciousness. She also has hypertension, diabetes with gastroparesis, and peripheral vascular disease. She has had occasional urinary incontinence and memory loss. Her medications are aspirin, atenolol, lisinopril, glyburide, metformin, metoclopramide, and cilostazol. The patient is alert but has decreased concentration and a markedly impaired memory. She has normal language function. The cranial nerves are intact, and there is increased tone in the lower extremities bilaterally with 4/5 motor strength in all muscle groups. The deep-tendon reflexes and cerebellar function are normal. She has a broad-based stance, hesitant initiation of walking, and a shuffling, ataxic gait. What is the next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Discontinue metoclopramide
(B) CT scan of the head
(C) Lumbar puncture
(D) Start levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet)
(E) Donepezil
(F) Ventriculo-peritoneal shunt

Answer:

(B) CT scan of the head

Explanation:

Even if you have no clue about the diagnosis, the first step in managing a patient with severe CNS-related abnormalities is a CT scan of the head in virtually any question you encounter on the boards. This patient has normal-pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). The gait disorder is usually characteristic and is the most reliable feature. Typically, the family describes the subacute onset of progressive intellectual deterioration accompanied by slowness and restriction of movement, particularly of the gait. There should also be the presence of bladder incontinence. In a way, it can be thought of as Parkinson's disease of the lower extremities. The disease is slowly progressive over weeks, months, or sometimes years. Parkinson's disease has many clinical features that are not present in NPH, such bradykinesia, rigidity, rest tremor, freezing, and postural instability. All of these are absent in this patient. In addition, NPH will not have a response to Sinemet. Although metoclopramide can cause a secondary parkinsonism, it should not cause cognitive decay or urinary incontinence. And even though donepezil may be useful for Alzheimer's disease, it will not help the memory loss of NPH. Ventriculo-peritoneal shunting would not be appropriate, unless a CT scan of the head is performed first. In short, don't start disease-specific therapies until you have confirmed a specific disease. Lumbar puncture is not a useful prognostic test. The only proof of shunt efficacy is to perform the shunt. Success is more likely if the shunt is done before the onset of severe cognitive problems.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 80

Question/Fact:

A 43-year-old obese man is referred to you by his corporate masters for a cardiac evaluation prior to beginning an exercise program that mostly consists of playing intense games of racquetball with the boss. He denies any cardiac risk factors and has no history of coronary disease. His parents are robustly healthy, and he does not smoke. You find a blood pressure of 110/70 mg/dL. Laboratory tests show an LDL of only 140 mg/dL. His EKG is normal. In order to clear him for exercise, you order a thallium stress test, which shows a small reversible defect in his inferior wall. How would you manage him?

(A) Clear him for racquetball
(B) Tell him he will have no problem as long as he loses 10% of body weight prior to beginning exercise
(C) Start aspirin alone
(D) Start statins

Answer:

(D) Start statins

Explanation:

Although he has no cardiac risk factors, he has an LDL above 130 and a sestress test showing ischemia. Once you have the presence of coronary disease, risk factors such as hypertension, tobacco smoking, low HDL, family history, and the patient's age become irrelevant. Although obesity is certainly a risk for an increase in all-cause mortality, obesity is not specifically a risk factor in the evaluation of who needs lipid-lowering therapy. Statin therapy would be combined with a dietary restriction on fat intake, as well as weight loss.



Topic:

Cardiology




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practical exam 2
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brainX Digital Learning System
Study Session of KnowledgeBase: Practice Exam 2

Record # 1

Question/Fact:

A 55-year-old man with a past medical history significant for diabetes for 15 years presents to your office complaining of increasing shortness of breath over the past few months. Although he is pain-free today, he has had angina-like chest pain over the last several months. There is no radiation of the pain or nausea, vomiting, or diaphoresis. The patient's medications consist of metformin, glyburide, and lisinopril. He denies alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use.

On physical examination, the patient appears as an age-appropriate obese male. Blood pressure is 130/170 mm Hg, and heart rate is 66/min. Jugulovenous distention is present. There is an S3 gallop with lateral displacement of the point of maximal impulse and some minimal rales at the lung bases. There is no peripheral edema. An EKG reveals a normal sinus rhythm at a rate of 64/min with no ST elevation and no T wave inversions. Anterior and inferior leads have QS waves. An echocardiogram reveals four chamber dilatation, global hypokinesis, and an ejection fraction of 35%.

What is the next diagnostic step for this patient?

(A) Coronary angiography
(B) 24-hour Holter monitor
(C) Transesophageal echocardiogram
(D) Thallium stress test
(E) Endomyocardial biopsy

Answer:

(A) Coronary angiography

Explanation:

In the patient described, the physical examination and history paint a picture of dilated cardiomyopathy, although one should not come to a precise diagnosis until the EKG and echocardiogram are done. The patient denies any previous alcohol use, and there is no medical history suggesting the use of cardiotoxic drugs. The QS waves on the EKG probably represent previous ischemic events, such as a myocardial infarction. These might have gone unnoticed because of the patient's diabetes, leading to a "silent" myocardial infarction. Because this patient is symptomatic with anginal pain and dyspnea, the next diagnostic step in the management of this patient should be coronary angiography. An endomyocardial biopsy has a very limited role in restrictive cardiomyopathy, where you would want to distinguish between a primary versus an infiltrative process. The Holter is not a part of the routine evaluation of ischemic heart disease. A transesophageal echocardiogram would not reveal any additional information, which would be useful in the management of a patient with probable ischemic heart disease. Stress testing is used when there is a question of the possibility of coronary disease. Between the patient's symptoms of pain and shortness of breath, as well as an EKG consistent with a previous infarction, there is little doubt that he has ischemic disease. His history is more important that this test. Even with the injection of thallium, there is still only a 90 to 95% sensitivity. Even in the unlikely event that the test is negative, you would still want to perform angiography because, in a case like this, it would be one of the false negatives.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 2

Question/Fact:

A 55-year-old man complains of epigastric burning. The burning is nonradiating but lasts for hours and is worsened by meals. An upper gastrointestinal series is performed, which reveals a benign-appearing, 1-cm ulcer in the antrum. There is no melena, hematochezia, fever, chills, dysphagia, odynophagia, or weight loss. He is treated with omeprazole and describes an immediate relief of pain. Which of the following should be performed?

(A) Obtain an H. pylori antibody to determine if he should be treated with antibiotics
(B) Arrange a repeat endoscopy in 4 to 6 weeks to verify healing of the ulcer
(C) He should avoid aspirin and NSAIDs
(D) No dietary restrictions are necessary
(E) All of the above are appropriate recommendations

Answer:

(E) All of the above are appropriate recommendations

Explanation:

Verification of the presence of H. pylori and treatment will prevent a recurrence of H. pylori.. An endoscopy to verify healing should be performed in 4 to 6 weeks because gastric ulcers are malignant till proven otherwise. Aspirin and NSAIDs will delay healing and should be avoided, and diet has little role in the causation and treatment of peptic ulcers.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 3

Question/Fact:

A 25-year-old man comes to your office complaining of pain in the right eye, which started three days ago. The pain was associated with blurred vision and hypersensitivity to light on Day 1. The problem increased gradually and was associated with redness of the eye and increased lacrimation. The patient denies a problem of this type in the past. He has been having some bilateral, deep, and dull pain in the gluteal region with mild lower backache and stiffness, which is worse in the morning and improves by the time he starts working in his office 1 to 2 hours later. The patient uses analgesics for the backache. He has been married for the last year, is a computer programmer, and goes to the gym three days a week. On physical examination, the patient is healthy-looking but anxious. He has a hazy cornea in the right eye with precipitates on the corneal endothelium and yellowish spots on the iris with indistinct margins. Funduscopy, after dilation, shows a grossly normal retina and choroid. His left eye is normal. The rests of the physical examination shows some limitation in the range of movement of the lumber spine in all directions and vague tenderness deep in the gluteal region. The ESR is 60 mm/h, and the urinalysis and chemistries are normal. An x-ray shows slightly blurred cortical margins of the subchondral bones in the sacroiliac joints bilaterally. Which of the following would be most appropriate next action?

(A) Culture from the urethra
(B) Serological test for syphilis
(C) HLA-B27 typing
(D) Methylprednisolone
(E) Steroid eye drops

Answer:

(E) Steroid eye drops

Explanation:

The most important initial step is to treat the patient's visual loss and photophobia. This patient has ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Uveitis is an ocular manifestation of several systemic diseases, such as AS, Reiter's syndrome, syphilis, and many other diseases. Uveitis is the most common extra-articular manifestation of AS. In addition to the uveal tract, both Reiter's syndrome and syphilis affect joints, but the patterns of joint involvement in these diseases are different. Sacroiliac involvement is extremely uncommon in syphilis. In a sexually active man with uveitis, a serological test for syphilis should be considered. Arthritis may be secondary to gonococcal infection, but this patient does not have symptoms now, and he has not had recent urethritis. Although AS is strongly associated with HLA-B27, the test is not used for the diagnosis of either AS or Reiter's syndrome. This is because HLA-B27 lacks specificity. All forms of seronegative spondyloarthropathies can have it, as well as 8% of the general population. HLA-B27 testing adds nothing when there is buttock pain and an abnormal x-ray of the sacroiliac joint. Physical examination of the right eye reveals an anterior uveitis, which should be treated with local steroids. Intravenous steroids are used when there is involvement of the ciliary body, choroid, or retina. Decreased chest expansion is not a problem at this stage of the disease. Although a decrease in the ability of the chest to expand results in an increased residual volume and decreased vital capacity, the ventilatory function is well maintained in the earlier stages of the disease.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 4

Question/Fact:

A 38-year-old man presents to the emergency department with shortness of breath and chest tightness. He has a past medical history of nephrotic syndrome and is currently taking prednisone. He just completed a 5-day course of azithromycin for an upper respiratory infection but still has a cough. On physical examination, his temperature is 100.8 F, pulse is 118/min, blood pressure is 115/70 mm Hg, and he appears to be in respiratory distress. The lung examination reveals right-sided splinting. The heart examination is normal. Laboratory examination reveals: white blood cell count 16,000/mm3 with 88% neutrophils. An arterial blood gas on room air shows a pH of 7.44, a pCO2 of 32 mm Hg, a pO2 of 79 mm Hg, and a 95% oxygen saturation. The chest x-ray reveals atelectasis and a right lower lobe infiltrate. Which of the following is the most likely cause of this patient's problem?

(A) Amyloidosis
(B) Focal segmental glomerular sclerosis
(C) Membranous nephropathy
(D) Diabetic nephropathy
(E) Minimal change disease

Answer:

(C) Membranous nephropathy

Explanation:

Nephrotic syndrome, particularly due to membranous glomerulonephropathy, is associated with a 50% risk of venous thrombosis. Patients also have a high incidence of renal vein thrombosis. There are several causes of thrombophilia in nephrotic syndrome. Antithrombin III, proteins C and S, and alpha-2 antiplasmin are natural anticoagulants that are lost in the urine. This patient has both the signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism. He is in respiratory distress, and his ABG is consistent with respiratory alkalosis with an increased A-a gradient. The most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in adults is membranous glomerulonephropathy. This form of nephrotic syndrome is also associated with cancers of the colon and breast, as well as lymphoma. This patient must first receive heparin to inhibit growth of the clot. D-dimers are a very sensitive test for the presence of pulmonary embolus, but they are not specific and may become elevated with any form of increased clotting. In the acute setting with a high clinical suspicion, treatment should be instituted even before a V/Q scan or CT angiogram is obtained.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 5

Question/Fact:

A 40-year-old man presents to your office after a syncopal episode at work today. He has high blood pressure but has not been adherent with his medical appointments. He also has a history of diet-controlled diabetes. Review of systems is remarkable for dyspnea on exertion with intermittent lightheadedness. The episodes last for 2 to 5 minutes. His medications include an anxiolytic medication prescribed by a friend. His blood pressure is 160/94 mm Hg, and his pulse is 78/min. Cardiac examination is remarkable for a sustained point of maximal impulse and a IV/VI systolic ejection murmur loudest at the lower left sternal border. The murmur increases with Valsalva. An EKG in your office shows left ventricular hypertrophy. What would be the most appropriate management of his hypertension?

(A) Beta-blocker
(B) ACE inhibitor
(C) Diuretic
(D) Calcium-channel blocker
(E) Angiotensin-receptor blocker

Answer:

(A) Beta-blocker

Explanation:

The patient presents with what seems to be hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. He has episodes of lightheadedness combined with the new episode of syncope. Dyspnea is a far more common presentation of this cardiomyopathy than sudden death, which is one of the rarer presentations. The only two left-sided cardiac lesions leading to a murmur that increases in intensity with Valsalva are mitral valve prolapse and obstructive cardiomyopathy. Beta-blockers are appropriate for both the blood pressure and cardiomyopathy. They decrease the force of contraction and thus decrease the obstruction. In addition, by slowing the heart rate, they increase diastolic filling time and thus decrease the obstruction.

Although ACE inhibitors are always good for hypertension in a diabetic patient, the more important issue in this patient is to prevent hemodynamic compromise. ACE inhibitors will increase ventricular emptying. They will therefore worsen the obstruction in a patient who already has serious signs of left ventricular outflow obstruction that are severe enough to make him pass out and become dyspneic. The same is true of the angiotensin-receptor blockers. Diuretics will only worsen ventricular filling and the signs of obstruction. Calcium-channel blockers are an alternative to those not responsive to, or are intolerant of, beta-blockers. They would not the first-line therapy.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 6

Question/Fact:

A 78-year-old white woman is brought to the emergency department unconscious and intubated by paramedics. The patient was found lying unresponsive on the bathroom floor with a heart rate of 30/min. She was apneic and hypotensive with a systolic blood pressure of 60 mm Hg. They gave atropine 1 mg intravenously in the field. The family arrives and tells you that she has a history of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, and hypertension and takes furosemide, metoprolol, digoxin, and enalapril. On admission to the emergency department, she has a temperature of 100 F, a heart rate of 35/min, and a blood pressure of 60/40 mm Hg. You give another dose of atropine 1 mg intravenously without any change in the heart rate or blood pressure. Her potassium is 3.6 mEq/L, with a bicarbonate of 22 mEq/L, BUN of 50 mg/dL, and a creatinine of 2.3 mg/dL. An EKG shows third-degree AV block at a ventricular rate of 35/min. Her toxicology screen is negative. What would you do next?

(A) Gastric lavage using activated charcoal
(B) Digibind
(C) Lidocaine
(D) Potassium
(E) Transcutaneous pacing

Answer:

(E) Transcutaneous pacing

Explanation:

This patient has life-threatening digitalis toxicity. Digoxin has a parasympathetic action on the AV and sinus nodes, causing slowing and nodal inhibition. Digoxin is primarily excreted through the urine, so this patient's elevated creatinine is a clue to the etiology of the toxicity. Patients may complain of nausea, vomiting, confusion, vertigo, and greenish yellow scotomata presenting as halos around lights. Hypokalemia occurs when patients are on chronic diuretic treatment, and this leads to a greater likelihood of developing toxicity. When the potassium level falls, the heart is sensitized more to arrhythmias caused by digoxin. The most common arrhythmia associated with digoxin is paroxysmal atrial tachycardia with variable block. The patient in this case has refractory third-degree AV block and hypotension, even after being given atropine twice. In this instance, a transcutaneous pacemaker should be applied to sustain an adequate blood pressure while other measures can be initiated. Certainly, activated charcoal should be given as soon as possible because digoxin is slowly absorbed and distributed. Lidocaine is used for ventricular tachyarrhythmias, such as ventricular tachycardia. The correction of hypokalemia is also a key part in stabilizing the myocardium from dysrhymias but is not the immediate priority in this patient because the potassium level is near normal. Digibind, which is a digoxin-specific antibody, would be a reasonable treatment after the pacemaker or in a patient so severely toxic that he or she develops arrhythmias.

Topic:

Poisoning

Record # 7

Question/Fact:

A 64-year-old man presents to your office for his yearly physical. This is his first visit to your office, and he admits that he has not been to a physician in over a decade. He takes no medications and denies tobacco or alcohol use. He is a recently retired accountant and started "health walks" three times a week, for 45 minutes at a time. He has been keeping salt out of his diet, going to yoga classes, and trying to lose weight for the last six months. At a local mall, his blood pressure was read as 160/80 mm Hg at a free screening booth.

On physical examination, his weight is 80 kg (176 lbs), and he stands 58" tall. Blood pressure taken in the office is 154/88 mm Hg, heart rate is 74/min, and temperature is normal. The physical exam shows AV nicking on funduscopic evaluation. The EKG has normal sinus rhythm at 74/min with no ST changes. The following lab results are available:

Sodium 143 mEq/L, potassium 5.0 mEq/L, bicarbonate 24 mEq/L, BUN 10 mg/dL, creatinine 1.1 mg/dL, glucose 96 mg/dL; cholesterol (total) 210 mg/dL, HDL 50 mg/dL, triglycerides 180 mg/dL, LDL 124 mg/dL, VLDL 36 mg/dL. Urinalysis is normal.

What is the next appropriate step regarding the management of this patient?

(A) ACE inhibitor
(B) Atenolol and simvastatin
(C) Advise further lifestyle modification and recheck blood pressure in 4 to 6 weeks
(D) Hydrochlorothiazide
(E) Repeat the blood pressure

Answer:

(D) Hydrochlorothiazide

Explanation:

This patient has sufficient evidence to clinically define hypertension. Although there have only been two readings, he has physical evidence of long-standing hypertension in the AV nicking on the funduscopic examination. Repeating the blood pressure is not necessary.

For isolated systolic hypertension, first-line medical therapy would be a diuretic. He comes to you having already tried to alter his lifestyle in terms of exercise, sodium restriction, and weight loss for the last six months. Even though he has an elevated cholesterol, the mortality benefit of the diuretics far outweighs any concern about increasing his lipid levels with the thiazide. An ACE inhibitor is recommended as first-line therapy for patients with diabetes, congestive heart failure, or persons postmyocardial infarction with systolic dysfunction. Beta-blockers are currently recommended as first-line therapy for patients who are postmyocardial infarction or who have known coronary disease. Simvastatin is not necessary because the patient has an LDL of <130 mg/dL and no evidence of coronary disease. His risk factors are his age (>45 years) and being a male with hypertension. Statins are used in patients with two or more risk factors if diet and exercise do not get the LDL under 130 mg/dL.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 8

Question/Fact:

A 42-year-old woman presents to the hospital with the sudden onset of shortness of breath associated with chest pain. The pain does not radiate and increases on inspiration. On physical examination, blood pressure is 110/80 mm Hg, pulse is 116/min, and respirations are 22/min. She is 125 pounds. An EKG reveals sinus tachycardia at 120 beats per minute, and the chest x-ray is normal. Baseline prothrombin time (PT) is 12 seconds, and the partial thromboplastin time (PTT) is 28 seconds. The patient is bolused with 5,000 units of heparin and then started on a drip of 1,000 units per hour. The V/Q scan gives a high probability for a pulmonary embolus.

Six hours later, the repeat PT is 12.5 seconds, and the PTT is 30 seconds. She is rebolused with 5,000 units of heparin, and the drip is raised to 1,100 units per hour. Six hours later, the PT is 12.4 seconds, and the PTT is 31 seconds.

What is the most likely reason for this scenario?

(A) Lupus anticoagulant
(B) Anticardiolipin antibodies
(C) Factor V mutation
(D) Antithrombin III deficiency
(E) Protein S deficiency

Answer:

(D) Antithrombin III deficiency

Explanation:

All of the disorders in the answer could account for thrombophilia (hypercoagulable state). The clue to this patient's diagnosis is the fact that she is unresponsive to heparin. There was no elevation of the PTT to the initial bolus of heparin, and no response to a rebolus or raising the rate of the drip. Heparin works through potentiating the effect of antithrombin on the clotting cascade. If there is a limited amount of antithrombin, the heparin will not work as effectively.

Lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies are two types of antiphospholipid syndromes that can cause thrombophilia. They give the opposite presentation. They start with an elevated PTT that can't be brought down with mixing the patient's plasma with normal plasma. Even a first episode of thrombosis with antithrombin III deficiency should be treated with lifelong coumadin.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 9

Question/Fact:

A 47-year-old man with a history of diabetes mellitus and a 40-pack-per-year smoking history presents to the emergency department at 6 A.M. with the acute onset of nausea, vomiting, and diaphoresis that woke him up from sleep. An EKG is done and shows ST elevation in leads II, III, and aVF. His vital signs are: temperature 98.5 F; pulse 72/min; respirations 22/min, and blood pressure 70/50 mm Hg. A Swan-Ganz (pulmonary artery) catheter is placed emergently. Which of the following readings would you expect to see?



Answer:



Explanation:

The patient has right ventricular failure secondary to a right ventricular infarction. The EKG shows ST elevation in the inferior leads. The inferior wall is supplied by the right coronary artery (in the majority of patients), which also supplies the right ventricle. Inferior-wall myocardial infarctions can be associated with a right-ventricular infarction in as many as 30 to 40% of patients. This results in the cardiac output and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP) being decreased while the right atrial pressure is elevated. The best treatment is to give fluids until the blood pressure returns to normal. Choice C shows equal diastolic pressures in both sides of the heart, which is suggestive of cardiac tamponade or constrictive pericarditis.

Choice D shows a pulmonary artery diastolic pressure more than PCWP by more than 20 mm Hg. These findings, along with an elevated right atrial pressure, are diagnostic for pulmonary hypertension.

Choice E shows a low cardiac output with a high right atrial pressure and a high PCWP. These findings suggest biventricular failure with cardiogenic shock. Treatment involves diuretics, preload and afterload reducers, and possibly positive inotropic agents, if needed.

Choice A is consistent with sepsis with a low PCWP and increased cardiac output.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 10

Question/Fact:

A 36-year-old woman comes to the cardiology clinic with complaints of shortness of breath on minimal exertion, which has been getting progressively worse over the past seven months. Six months ago, she delivered twins. For the last month of pregnancy, she felt short of breath after walking one block and noticed mild ankle edema, which she attributed to the natural course of pregnancy. After delivery, these symptoms became progressively worse. Now she also describes nocturnal dyspnea and states that lately she uses at least three pillows to sleep and cannot lie down flat at all. This was her fourth pregnancy, and her past medical history is unremarkable. She is trying to be compliant with fluid restriction. Her medications at this time are carvedilol, lisinopril, and furosemide.

The patient presents as an obese female, who is mildly short of breath at rest. Physical examination findings are positive for distended jugular veins, the presence of an S3 gallop, and a III/VI systolic ejection murmur radiating to the axilla. There are mild crackles at both lung bases, as well as a 1+ lower extremity edema. Echocardiogram was done three months ago, and showed an ejection fraction of 27% and a moderately dilated left ventricle and left atrium.

What would be most effective way to improve this patient's prognosis?

(A) Increase dose of diuretics
(B) Add hydralazine
(C) Cardiac catheterization
(D) Myocardial biopsy
(E) Cardiac transplantation

Answer:

(E) Cardiac transplantation

Explanation:

This patient presents with peripartum cardiomyopathy. This is a left ventricular myocardial dysfunction that occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy and up to six months postpartum without a definitive cause. Mothers of older age with increased parity, a delivery of twins, malnutrition, toxemia, and hypertension are at increased risk. It occurs most commonly at two months postpartum. The incidence is 1:1,300 to 1:15,000 births. Lymphocytic myocarditis has been found in 30 to 50% of biopsy specimens, suggesting an immune component and possible cross-reactivity between uterine and cardiac myocyte proteins. The presentation is usually with orthopnea and exercise-induced dyspnea. Approximately 50% of patients recover spontaneously within the first six months, after which recovery is unlikely. Diuretics should be used to facilitate diuresis as needed. It is not known if therapy with ACE-inhibitors improves recovery. Patients who do not recover eventually have a dismal prognosis if they don't undergo cardiac transplantation. Transplantation is indicated in this case as the most definitive treatment option.

Cardiac catheterization would be a useful study if we suspected ischemia as a cause of heart failure. Myocardial biopsy can give us information about the absence or presence of myocarditis, but this would not change the management in terms of the need for transplantation. Cardiac transplantation still stays as the most definitive choice of treatment. The question specifically asks about an effect on prognosis. There is no benefit to adding hydralazine to a patient who is already on ACE inhibitors in any circumstance. This patient has had no improvement in her symptoms at all after six months. Although peripartum cardiomyopathy has a high degree of reversibility, if this patient had any chance of recovery, it would have already started. That is why the transplantation is necessary.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 11

Question/Fact:

What is the appropriate mode of colorectal cancer screening for the following case?

A 51-year-old -man with no family history of colon cancer and who is asymptomatic.

(A) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(B) Flexible sigmoidoscopy now and every 5 years
(C) Colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years
(D) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(E) Stool occult cards every year; colonoscopy if positive
(F) Colonoscopy at age 40 and every 5 years
(G) Colonoscopy in 3 years
(H) Colonoscopy in 1 year
(I) Colonoscopy every 1 to 2 years

Answer:

(A) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years

Explanation:

Colonoscopy is the preferred method of screening for colon cancer. Average-risk persons should undergo colonoscopy at age 50, and if normal, every 10 years. If a polyp is found, the colonoscopy should be repeated after 3 years. When there is a family history of colon cancer, screening should begin at age 40 or ten years prior to the age of the family member. The earlier date is respected. Follow-up examinations for persons with family histories of colon cancer should occur at 5-year intervals. When there are multiple family members, screening colonoscopy should be performed at age 25 and every 1 to 2 years (characteristic of persons with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome). Colonoscopy is recommended 1 year after a hemicolectomy for colon cancer to verify the absence of recurrence and the presence of new lesions.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 12

Question/Fact:

A 69-year-old woman with a history of severe coronary artery disease and a permanent pacemaker for tachybrady syndrome is admitted for dyspnea secondary to congestive heart failure. Her medications include digoxin, amiodarone, metoprolol, and furosemide. While in the telemetry unit, she develops torsades de pointes. She is initially treated with magnesium, atropine, and potassium. Her resting heart rate now is in the 40s. However, she continues having intermittent runs of torsade. The QT interval is 610 milliseconds. What is the next step in treating this dysrhythmia?

(A) Increase the atrial rate of the pacemaker
(B) Isoproterenol
(C) Procainamide
(D) Change oral amiodarone to intravenous
(E) Defibrillation at 200 Joules (J)

Answer:

(A) Increase the atrial rate of the pacemaker

Explanation:

Torsades de pointes is defined as a polymorphic ventricular tachycardia in which the morphology of the QRS complexes vary from beat to beat, with the ventricular rate varying from 150 to 250 per minute. The QT interval is also markedly increased and is usually 600 milliseconds or greater. It occurs in nonsustained bursts. Women are more likely to have QT prolongation secondary to drug therapy. Acquired conditions that predispose toward torsades include hypomagnesemia, hypokalemia, classes IA and III drugs, and interactions between antihistamines and azole or macrolide antibiotics.

Acute treatment includes discontinuation of the offending agent, administration of magnesium, and increasing the resting heart rate with either atropine or overdrive pacing up to a rate of 140/min to prevent the ventricular pauses that allow torsades to originate. Speeding the heart rate with a pacemaker shortens the QT interval and effectively helps reverse the torsade. Isoproterenol is rarely indicated and is dangerous in patients with coronary artery disease because of the positive inotropic effect and an increase in myocardial oxygen consumption. Class IA drugs (e.g., procainamide) and class III drugs (e.g., amiodarone) are also contraindicated because they can prolong the QT interval. Torsades with hemodynamic compromise is an indication for electrical cardioversion.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 13

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old man presents to the emergency department with complaints of fever, chills, nausea, and pain on urination. On admission the patient appears dehydrated. He has not been eating or drinking for the past few days because he fears urination. He has been having progressively worsening dysuria and rectal pain on defecation for the past week. He denies urinary hesitance or incontinence. He has a low-grade fever that started two days before admission. On examination, the patient is noted to have suprapubic tenderness. Rectal examination reveals severe tenderness with a diffusely enlarged and boggy prostate. The stool is brown and negative for occult blood. He has a temperature of 101.9 F. The urinalysis shows 2+ blood, 1+ protein, 3+ white cells, and is positive for nitrites. His white blood cell count is 18,000/mm3. What is most appropriate for this patient?

(A) Ampicillin and gentamicin
(B) Cystoscopy
(C) Gentle prostate massage
(D) Increase fluid intake and administer one week of oral trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
(E) Prostrate-specific antigen (PSA) level

Answer:

(A) Ampicillin and gentamicin

Explanation:

The goal of this question is to test your understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of acute bacterial prostatitis. The patient presents with the typical symptoms of acute prostatitis, which include fever, chills, dysuria, and rectal pain. He has also become dehydrated secondary to poor fluid intake. At this point, hospitalization with the prompt administration of intravenous fluid resuscitation, as well as parenteral therapy with ampicillin and an aminoglycoside, is indicated. This antibiotic regiment should be continued until sensitivity testing of the organism is available. The patient may be switched to oral antibiotic therapy if he remains afebrile for a period of 24 to 48 hours after the start of the intravenous antibiotics. Oral therapy may consist of trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or a quinolone for a full course of 4 to 6 weeks. However, this patient is so ill that intravenous therapy is more appropriate. Prostate massage or urinary tract instrumentation is contraindicated in acute bacterial prostatitis because it may induce septicemia, and the diagnosis already seems abundantly clear. Obtaining a prostrate-specific antigen (PSA) at this time is not indicated because of its propensity to be falsely elevated with an acute infection of the prostate. PSA would not change the initial management.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 14

Question/Fact:

A 57-year-old woman presents to the clinic for a follow-up visit. She complains of swelling in her extremities and generalized headaches, which she has noted for the past few weeks. She also reports an elevated blood pressure during her last visit to her pharmacy, which has an automated blood-pressure machine. Her past medical history is significant for Addison's disease, atrophic gastritis, and hypercholesterolemia. Her current medications include prednisone 5 mg, simvastatin, and ranitidine. She was recently started on fludrocortisone acetate 0.3mg daily. The patient states that she has been compliant with her medications. Her blood pressure is 182/91mm Hg, temperature is 96.9 F, and pulse is 70/min. Laboratory studies show: white blood cell count 6,200/mm3, sodium l56 mEq/L, potassium 2.6 mEq/L, chloride 102 mEq/L, bicarbonate 28 mg/dL, BUN 16 mg/dL, creatinine 0.9 mg/dL, and glucose 80 mg/dL. Which of the following is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Advise the patient to limit free water intake to one liter per day and to weigh herself daily
(B) Add stress-dose hydrocortisone to the current regiment of prednisone
(C) Decrease the dose of fludrocortisone
(D) Start spironolactone therapy
(E) Order a panel of thyroid function testing

Answer:

(C) Decrease the dose of fludrocortisone

Explanation:

Most patients with adrenal insufficiency will require some mineralcorticoid therapy in the form of fludrocortisone. Excess doses of fludrocortisone results in edema, hypertension, and hypokalemia. Postural hypotension, weight loss, and hyperkalemia are signs of inadequate mineralcorticoid replacement. In this question, the patient is described as suffering from hypertension and hypokalemia. Therefore, the most appropriate next step in the management of this patient is to reduce the dose of the mineralcorticoid.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 15

Question/Fact:

A 24-year-old woman is being evaluated in the emergency room for occasional, self-resolving headaches. In the triage area, the patient has a continuous, generalized tonic-clonic seizure. According to her family, the patient has no prior history of a seizure disorder. The patient continues to be in tonic-clonic state. Her pulse is 118/min, with a blood pressure of 138/64 mm Hg and a normal temperature. The patient appears cyanotic, and she is intubated. She weighs 60 kg. The patient is given three milligrams of lorazepam intravenously but continues to have seizures. The medical resident physician orders the nurse to give another 3 mg of lorazepam, which has no effect. The patient continues to have seizures. What is next step in management?

(A) Lumbar puncture
(B) Antibiotics
(C) Additional doses of lorazepam until the seizures stop
(D) Intravenous fosphenytoin
(E) Intravenous phenobarbital

Answer:

(D) Intravenous fosphenytoin

Explanation:

Phenytoin is the standard of care in treating patients with status epilepticus who do not respond to initial therapy with benzodiazepines. If 6 mg of lorazepam was not effective, it is unlikely that more will help. There is no history of fever or neck stiffness that would make either the lumbar puncture or antibiotics useful. Phenobarbital would only be used if phenytoin were ineffective. Fosphenytoin has certain advantages when compared with standard phenytoin. Fosphenytoin is less often associated with hypotension or arrhythmias.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 16

Question/Fact:

A 19-year-old Caribbean woman is admitted to the gynecology service because of an ectopic pregnancy. She has a history of bacterial endocarditis. She is allergic to penicillin. In addition to her left lower quadrant pain and fever, her physical exam is significant for a grade III/VI diastolic murmur. Blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. The EKG is normal, and the echocardiogram shows mitral stenosis with no visible vegetations. What is your recommendation for antibiotic prophylaxis prior to surgically removing the ectopic pregnancy?

(A) Vancomycin and gentamicin
(B) Amoxicillin
(C) Clindamycin
(D) Ampicillin and gentamicin
(E) No antibiotics indicated

Answer:

(E) No antibiotics indicated

Explanation:

This patient does not require endocarditis prophylaxis. Although both the murmur of mitral stenosis and the history of previous endocarditis would be indications for prophylaxis, it is not necessary to use prophylaxis in generally sterile surgical procedures. Preparation of the skin for surgery involves a local sterilization method that eliminates most organisms. This is done for catheterization procedures as well. Surgery and catheterization procedures do not shower the body with bacteria. You are only at increased risk for endocarditis if you have both a significant underlying cardiac defect, as well as undergoing a procedure that causes a bacteremia. Procedures that do not need prophylaxis are minor dental procedures, such as filling cavities and routine teeth cleaning; flexible endoscopies (neither bronchoscopy nor colonoscopy); vaginal delivery or caesarean section; cardiac catheterization; or pacemaker placement.



Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 17

Question/Fact:

A 31-year-old man was sent to your clinic by his dentist to be evaluated for gingival bleeding prior to tooth extraction. For the past two months the patient has been experiencing bleeding from his gums while brushing. He admits to several episodes of nosebleeds throughout his lifetime, which were somewhat severe and once required a visit to the emergency department. He denies melena, hematochezia, joint pain, or swelling. His father died at an early age of an unknown cause, and patient recalls that he also had nosebleeds.

His vitals in your office are stable. His physical examination is unremarkable. No petechiae or purpura are seen on the skin. The oral mucosa is normal. The spleen is not palpable, and there are no joint deformities.

Laboratory studies show the following:

WBC 6,200/mm3; hematocrit 38%; platelets 360,000/mm3; PT 11.6 seconds; PTT 48.0 seconds; INR 1.3.

Peripheral smear is normal, and bleeding time is mildly prolonged. The ristocetin cofactor activity is abnormal.

What would you do to make the dental extraction safe?

(A) Desmopressin
(B) No therapy
(C) Aminocaproic acid
(D) Factor VIII concentrate infusion
(E) Cryoprecipitate

Answer:

(A) Desmopressin

Explanation:

This patient presents with spontaneous mucosal bleeding and a history of epistaxis. He also has a family history of bleeding. The diagnosis of von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is based on the abnormal bleeding time with a normal platelet count. In vWD, the PT is always normal, but the PTT can be abnormal in approximately half of the cases. This is because the von Willebrand's factor stabilizes the factor VIII coagulant portion. Ristocetin acts as an artificial endothelial surface. It is abnormal when there is no von Willebrand's factor (vWF) for the platelets to bind to. Desmopressin is the treatment of choice. It increases the level of von Willebrand's factor two- to three-fold by causing the release of stored vWF. This patient most likely has type I, which is a quantitative decrease in vWF and which responds to desmopressin. It would not be safe to proceed without treatment given that he has a history of increased bleeding, which might be severe during the extraction.

Cryoprecipitate also contains vWF, but it is a pooled blood product and therefore has a risk of transmitting disease. It would only be appropriate if desmopressin and factor VIII concentrates were not effective. Factor VIII is sometimes used in those not responding to desmopressin. Remember, because factor VIII travels bound to vWF, it makes sense that you are giving vWF when you infuse factor VIII as well. Aminocaproic acid is an antifibrinolytic agent sometimes used in disseminated intravascular coagulation.

Topic:

Hemotology-Oncology

Record # 18

Question/Fact:

A 39-year-old woman presents to your office complaining of worsening fatigue and malaise over the past 4 weeks. She says that she came to your office today because she has noticed that her eyes have become yellow and yesterday her skin became very itchy. She denies any history of alcohol use. She takes no medications but was treated for a urinary tract infection 6 weeks ago with a 7-day course of nitrofurantoin. Her only other complaints are of some mild occasional arthralgias in the small joints of her hands. Vitals are remarkable for a low-grade fever, but blood pressure and pulse are normal. Physical examination is remarkable for icteric sclera. The liver is palpated 3 cm below the costal margin and is slightly tender. There is no splenomegaly. Laboratory tests reveal: WBC 12,100/mm3, hematocrit 39%, platelets 245,000/mm3, albumin 3.8 g/dL, PT 12.0 seconds, PTT 22.5 seconds, AST 762 U/L, ALT 846 U/L, alkaline phosphatase 194 U/L, and total bilirubin 5.9 mg/dL. ANA test is positive with a titer of 1:640. Serum gamma globulin is 5.9 g/dL, and testing for anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody is negative.. Testing for hepatitis-B surface antigen is also negative. She refuses liver biopsy. What is the best next step in the treatment of this patient?

(A) Prednisone and azathioprine
(B) Cyclosporine
(C) Methotrexate
(D) Liver transplant evaluation
(E) Interferon-alpha and ribavirin

Answer:

(A) Prednisone and azathioprine

Explanation:

This patient has autoimmune hepatitis. The ANA is positive, and she has an elevated serum gamma globulin. Onset of autoimmune hepatitis is often triggered by a recent viral illness, such as hepatitis A, Epstein-Barr, measles, or from exposure to drugs like nitrofurantoin, as seen in this case. The patient is icteric, as is reflected in her total bilirubin, and she has elevated transaminases. The patient was placed on the correct first-line therapy for autoimmune hepatitis, prednisone, and/or azathioprine, and she responded well. However, there is a very high rate of relapse (50-90%). Patients who fail this treatment may try cyclosporine or methotrexate, and patients who have further treatment failures are candidates for liver transplants. Disease may recur in the transplanted liver.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 19

Question/Fact:

A 32-year-old woman came to the hospital with complaints of recurrent syncope for the last five years. She had her last syncopal episode two hours ago, which lasted for several seconds and was associated with chest discomfort, palpitations, and diaphoresis. She has history of Graves' disease for three years and for which she was originally treated with propylthiouracil and maintained on propranolol. The patient claims that her father had a heart attack at the age of 78 and her mother died suddenly at the age of 42. Telemetry during the current hospitalization shows multiple episodes of nonsustained, polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (VT) with an undulating amplitude and a prolonged QT interval during which she experienced lightheadedness followed by syncope. What is the best management for this patient?

(A) Amiodarone
(B) Implantable cardioverter/defibrillator
(C) Stop propranolol
(D) Cervicothoracic sympathectomy
(E) Quinidine

Answer:

(B) Implantable cardioverter/defibrillator

Explanation:

Torsades de pointes refer to ventricular tachycardia (VT) that is characterized by polymorphic QRS complexes that change in amplitude and cycle length, giving the appearance of oscillations around the baseline. This rhythm is associated with QT prolongation. For patients with congenital, prolonged, QT-interval syndrome, beta-adrenergic blocking agents have been the mainstay of therapy. Implantable cardioverter/defibrillators (ICDs) with dual-chambered pacing capability have become the treatment of choice for patients with recurrent episodes despite beta-blockers. ICD devices have been developed that will promptly recognize and terminate life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. Clinical trials testing the function of these devices in patients with drug-refractory ventricular arrhythmias have demonstrated survival from sudden death at 1 year ranging between 92 and 100%. Currently, ICDs should be considered for patients with VT that is not hemodynamically tolerated. This is either if the VT occurs spontaneously, resulting in syncope or sudden death, or at induction in the laboratory with the development of symptoms. ICDs are also useful for patients with spontaneous, sustained VT and depressed, left ventricular function. Sustained or nonsustained VT at electrophysiological study is an indication for ICD placement if there is evidence or coronary artery disease, left ventricular dysfunction, or a prior infarction. Cervicothoracic sympathectomy has been proposed as a form of therapy for congenital prolonged QT syndrome, but it is not often effective as the sole therapy. Some investigators have used pacing in combination with sympathectomy when beta-blockers fail, but it is not uniformly successful and can result in Horner's syndrome. Class IA agents such as quinidine may induce QT prolongation and so is contraindicated for patient with prolonged QT syndrome.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 20

Question/Fact:

A 52-year-old man presents to your office with shortness of breath, which has been progressively worsening, especially on exertion, over the past 6 months. He also awakens at night with shortness of breath and occasionally sleeps sitting up in a chair because of it. He denies chest pain, palpitations, diaphoresis, syncope, fever, cough, or night sweats. His past medical history is significant for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and childhood asthma. He has smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for the past 30 years and drinks 5 to 6, 8-ounce cans of beer each evening after work for the past 20 years. Current medications include atorvastatin 10 mg, hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg, and Tylenol occasionally for headaches. He denies any significant history of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or renal disease.

The patient's blood pressure is 169/92 mm Hg, respiratory rate is 18/min, heart rate is 90/min, and there is no presence of fever. Physical examination reveals a moderately obese male, who is well developed and well nourished. Significant findings include xanthelasma, jugulovenous distention, bibasilar crackles on lung auscultation, and a grade III/VI systolic murmur at the apex. Chest x-ray reveals cardiomegaly and pulmonary vascular congestion. An in-office echocardiogram reveals an enlarged and diffusely hypokinetic left ventricle with an ejection fraction of 30 to 35% and moderate mitral regurgitation.

Which of the following statements is most accurate?

(A) The cause of this patient's condition has been linked to a hereditary syndrome.
(B) Cardiac auscultation is most likely to reveal a fourth heart sound.
(C) Stopping alcohol is the most important measure in the management of this patient.
(D) The role of chronic anticoagulation should be considered in this patient.
(E) Cardiac catheterization is indicated as the next step in the management of this patient.

Answer:

(C) Stopping alcohol is the most important measure in the management of this patient.

Explanation:

This patient presents with alcoholic cardiomyopathy. The most important measure in the management is to completely stop alcohol intake. Stopping alcohol will not only prevent further deterioration, but there may even be some regression of the heart disease.

A fourth heart sound is usually heard in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The S4 is caused by atrial systole against a noncompliant left ventricle. Chronic anticoagulation is used when there is evidence of cardiac thrombosis or systemic embolus. Cardiac catheterization is of limited value because the diagnosis is established from the history, physical examination, and echocardiogram. There is no history of ischemic heart disease to suggest that ischemia is the cause of the cardiomyopathy.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 21

Question/Fact:

A 26-year-old woman with bipolar disorder comes to your office feeling "fatigued and down" for the past month. She claims that she has been compliant with her lithium therapy for the past six months. She denies using alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs. She claims that she has been having trouble having bowel movements for a few weeks and that she has been using an over-the-counter fiber supplement. On examination, she has a temperature of 96.5 F, a heart rate of 60/min, and a blood pressure of 110/70 mm Hg. Her skin is dry, and there is minimal neck swelling. There are delayed deep-tendon reflexes in the knees bilaterally. Her white blood cell count is 6,500/mm3 with a hematocrit of 33%.



What is the best treatment for this patient?

(A) Stop the lithium and restart at a lower dose when the thyroid normalizes
(B) Switch lithium to valproic acid
(C) Add fluoxetine and a laxative and monitor the TSH level closely
(D) Add levothyroxine 50 μg/day and monitor symptoms and TSH level
(E) Start methimazole 30 mg/day until the symptoms abate

Answer:

(D) Add levothyroxine 50 μg/day and monitor symptoms and TSH level

Explanation:

In a patient who is placed on lithium for bipolar disorder, it is important to get baseline thyroid-function tests because of the effect lithium has on the thyroid itself. Lithium has been shown to cause a goiter in 15 to 20% of patients and hypothyroidism in 5% of patients. Lithium causes a defect in the biosynthesis of thyroid hormone. In a patient who develops hypothyroidism while on lithium, the proper step in management is to start levothyroxine at a therapeutic dose. Lithium can also cause a transient increase in parathyroid hormone levels, simulating hyperparathyroidism. These levels will return to normal after stopping the lithium.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 22

Question/Fact:

A 27-year-old woman presents to the emergency department complaining of shortness of breath for the last few hours that is not related to exertion or body position. The patient states that she is 22 weeks pregnant and this is her first pregnancy. She has never had an episode like this before. She denies fever, cough, or chest pain. The patient appears tachypneic and in moderate distress. Her temperature is 100.9 F, heart rate is 120 mm Hg, and the blood pressure is 110/60 mm Hg, with a respiratory rate of 30/min. The lungs are clear to auscultation, and the heart examination is unremarkable. She has moderate edema of the lower extremities with the left slightly worse than the right. An arterial blood gas on room air shows: pH 7.51, pCO2 26 mm Hg, pO2 62 mm Hg, and 92% saturation. The EKG shows sinus tachycardia at a rate of 126/min with no ST-T abnormalities. The chest x-ray shows clear lungs fields bilaterally. What is the most appropriate test to confirm the diagnosis?

(A) V/Q scan
(B) Spiral CT
(C) Impedance plethysmography
(D) D-Dimers
(E) 125I fibrinogen scan

Answer:

(A) V/Q scan

Explanation:

The V/Q scan is the appropriate test to confirm the possibility of a pulmonary embolus, even in a pregnant woman. The radiation exposure to the fetus is minimal and far less than that of a spiral CT scan. Although impedance plethysmography has no radiation exposure, it is very limited in its sensitivity. D-Dimers are very nonspecific. The 125I fibrinogen scan is very rarely, if ever, used anymore. When you see it in a question, it is always wrong.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 23

Question/Fact:

A 57-year-old man presents to your office with complaints of multiple episodes of severe, unilateral, periorbital headaches over the last two weeks, as well as right now. The patient states that these headaches last approximately one hour and usually occur at night. They wake him from sleep. Sometimes they are accompanied by nasal stuffiness and lacrimation. He denies nausea or vomiting. He noticed that occasional alcohol intake or emotional stress at work precipitates his headache. He tried a large dose of acetaminophen with no significant relief. The patient also complains of periodic episodes of squeezing chest pain after walking 4 to 5 blocks. There is no recent change in the character of the chest pain. His pulse is 72/min, and his blood pressure is 130/80 mm Hg. Physical examination reveals Horner's syndrome on the left side. Which of the following is the most appropriate management for his headache?

(A) Ibuprofen
(B) Prednisone
(C) Ergotamine
(D) Propranolol
(E) Sumatriptan

Answer:

(B) Prednisone

Explanation:

This patient presents with cluster headaches. Cluster headaches predominantly affect middle-aged men in a 10:1 male-to-female ratio. The cause is unclear but may be related to the disturbance of serotonergic mechanisms. There is often no family history of headache or migraine. Cluster headaches are characterized by multiple episodes in a single day for several weeks with pain-free intervals that usually last a year or longer. The pain peaks in a few minutes in cluster headache, whereas it takes several hours to peak in a migraine. They are often accompanied by ipsilateral nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, and Horner's syndrome. Spontaneous remission then occurs, and the patient remains well for weeks or months. Many patients report that alcohol triggers an attack. Others report that stress or ingestion of specific foods occasionally precipitates attacks. Physical examination reveals no abnormality, except Horner's syndrome, which either occurs transiently during an attack or remains residual between them. Treatment is often with dihydroergotamine (DHE) or sumatriptan. DHE can be used intravenously or intramuscularly, and it is effective within 5 to 30 minutes. Sumatriptan 6 mg subcutaneously relieves a headache in 15 minutes in 75% of patients. Because this patient most likely has a history of coronary artery disease, both DHE and sumatriptan are less desirable choices. Both of these can cause vasospasm and potentially worsen coronary disease. High-flow oxygen for 15 minutes may be also acutely effective.

Because large doses of acetaminophen were not effective in this patient, it is unlikely that ibuprofen will solve the problem. Prednisone can be used acutely to treat cluster headaches as well. Prednisone can be used like 100% oxygen as abortive therapy. Several agents can be used to prevent attacks such as lithium, verapamil, prednisone, and beta-blockers. None of them, except prednisone, can be used to treat acute attacks. Methylsergide is no longer used because it is associated with fibrosis of the pleura, pericardium, and retroperitoneal area.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 24

Question/Fact:

A 55-year-old man comes in to your office complaining of diarrhea. He states that he has had a history of Crohn's disease for many years, and it has been particularly aggressive over the past two years. Five months ago, he underwent a small bowel resection (250 cm of bowel) for a severe relapse of Crohn's that was not responsive to medical therapy. Shortly after this past surgery, he states that he has been experiencing diarrhea. He has about five bowel movements per day and he describes them as bulky, light-colored, and foul-smelling. He describes a weight loss of 30 lb over the past five months with no change in appetite. He appears to be slightly wasted and has several superficial hematomas on the skin. Otherwise, the physical examination is unremarkable. Laboratory studies show: WBC 8,200/mm3, hemoglobulin 11.3 g/dL, hematocrit 33.7%, platelets 238,000/mm3, and a mean corpuscular volume 104 µm3. Chest x-ray shows clear lung fields. However, diffuse osteopenia is noted. Which of the following is the best way to treat this patient?

(A) Oral vitamin B12
(B) Oral vitamin B12 and oral vitamins A, D, E, and K
(C) Intramuscular (IM) vitamin B12 and oral vitamins A, D, E, and K
(D) IM vitamin B12 and vitamins A, D, E, and K
(E) IM vitamin B12, oral vitamins A, D, E, and K, and medium-chain triglycerides

Answer:

(E) IM vitamin B12, oral vitamins A, D, E, and K, and medium-chain triglycerides

Explanation:

This patient suffers from short bowel syndrome as a result of his small bowel resection. We can assume that during his surgery, much of the terminal ileum was resected because of the nature of his symptoms and laboratory findings. His macrocytic anemia suggests B12 deficiency, and his visible hematomas and osteopenia suggest deficiencies of vitamins K and D, respectively. Furthermore, the patient describes steatorrhea. All of these symptoms and signs are consistent with the loss of the terminal ileum because both B12 and bile salts are absorbed in the terminal ileum. This leads to B12 deficiency, and the loss of bile salts leads to fat malabsorption, steatorrhea, and with it, the malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Because he lacks the ability to absorb enteric B12, it must be replaced intramuscularly. As for the fat-soluble vitamins, they may be given orally with supplemented medium-chain triglycerides, which do not require micellar solubilization.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 25

Question/Fact:

Patients undergoing chemotherapy with doxorubicin (adriamycin) can develop damage to the myocardium as the cumulative dose of the drug rises. There is an irreversible effect upon left-ventricular contractility and ejection fraction. Oncologists often have a critical decision to make between limiting the dose of the chemotherapeutic agent versus causing symptomatic congestive failure over time. What is the most accurate method of assessing the effect of the drug upon the patient?

(A) Transthoracic echocardiogram
(B) Transesophageal echocardiogram
(C) Left heart catheterization
(D) Right heart catheterization (Swan-Ganz)
(E) Nuclear ventriculogram (MUGA)

Answer:

(E) Nuclear ventriculogram (MUGA)

Explanation:

The most accurate method of assessing the ejection fraction is the nuclear ventriculogram, or MUGA scan. This technique assesses ejection fraction by determining how much of a nuclear isotope is ejected from the ventricle with each beat. It is not based on a two-dimensional, cross-sectional image and extrapolation, such as in the case of an echocardiogram or traditional contrast ventriculography by catheterization. Swan-Ganz catheters measure cardiac output, not the ejection fraction: It is the only method listed in the answer choices that doesn't actually measure ejection fraction at all.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 26

Question/Fact:

A 39-year-old Japanese man comes to your office after he has developed a festinating gait and poverty of voluntary movement. On physical examination, he has cogwheel rigidity of the limbs and a pill-rolling type of tremor at rest. His symptoms are moderate and do not interfere with his ability to dress himself or to care for himself in general. He started noticing these symptoms seven years ago, and they have been getting progressively worse. Over the past year, his face has become mask-like. An MRI and CT scan of the head show nothing abnormal. Which of the following would be appropriate for this patient?

(A) Levodopa
(B) Pramipexole or ropinirole
(C) Sinemet (carbidopa and levodopa)
(D) Benztropine (Cogentin)
(E) Amantadine

Answer:

(B) Pramipexole or ropinirole

Explanation:

This patient has the gait and movement abnormalities, tremor, and cogwheeling consistent with Parkinson's disease (PD). Patients who develop severe functional impairment that interferes with daily living should be treated with Sinemet (levodopa/carbidopa). Younger patients seem to be at higher risk of developing complications with long-term levodopa treatment, such as motor fluctuations, choreiform dyskinesias, and painful "on/off" dystonias. These complications are sometimes as disabling as the tremor and bradykinesia of the actual disease and may persist despite changes in the medications. The initial therapy as per current guidelines is to start with a dopamine agonist and add Sinemet later if dopamine agonists (such as pramipexole or ropinirole) at high doses don't improve function or if the patient can't tolerate the adverse effects of these medications. There is some evidence that dopamine agonists may have a protective effect upon neural tissue.

Tremor and drooling are common problems in PD that may respond particularly well to anticholinergics, such as benztropine or trihexyphenidyl. Anticholinergics are particularly useful when the patient is young and has mild parkinsonian symptoms. Amantadine is used in older patients with mild disease for tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia. Older patients have a hard time tolerating the side effects of the anticholinergics, such as urinary retention and constipation. These adverse effects are less common with amantadine.

Fatigue may represent bradykinesia and may require levodopa or dopamine agonists, such as ropinirole, pergolide, or pramipexole. Bromocriptine is rarely used anymore because of a higher rate of adverse effects. These drugs are not as potent as levodopa, but they can be used in a younger patient to defer the need to start levodopa (therefore avoiding the adverse effects of levodopa). Dopamine agonists may be poorly tolerated in elderly patients with cognitive impairment. Selegiline, which is an MAO inhibitor, may slow down the progression of the disease. The early use of selegiline may delay the need for levodopa in patients with very mild PD. When administered as monotherapy, dopamine agonists have a very low risk of producing motor fluctuations or dyskinesias. After several years of treatment, the majority of patients may require a combination of both levodopa and a dopamine agonist. Levodopa is always used in combination with carbidopa to enhance its passage into the central nervous system.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 27

Question/Fact:

A 44-year-old-man presents for evaluation of increased abdominal girth. There has been no fever, chills, weight loss, or abdominal pain. He has also noted increased lower-extremity edema. Physical examination reveals that he is mildly icteric. The abdomen is nontender, but tense ascites are noted. There is lower extremity edema, spider angioma, and palmar erythema. Laboratory analysis reveals: WBC 2,500/mm3, hematocrit 33%, platelets 77,000/mm3, sodium 123 mEq/L, albumin 2.2 g/dL, bilirubin 3.3 mg/dL, AST 121 U/L, and ALT 88 U/L. Which of the following statements regarding this patient is false?

(A) The patient has end-stage liver disease, Child's class C cirrhosis
(B) If the ascites albumin is greater than 1.1, a malignancy may exist
(C) The low platelet count is typically due to portal hypertension
(D) Viral hepatitis A, B, or C could have caused this problem
(E) The low sodium portends a poor prognosis

Answer:

(A) The patient has end-stage liver disease, Child's class C cirrhosis

Explanation:

The clinical picture is consistent with end-stage liver disease, Child's Class C cirrhosis (albumin less than 2.5 g/dL, tense ascites, etc.). The serum albumin minus the ascites albumin, if less than 1.1 typically means that a malignancy exists as the cause of the ascites. Portal hypertension from the cirrhosis typically leads to splenomegaly, platelet sequestration, and thrombocytopenia. Hyponatremia is a poor prognosticating sign in patients with end-stage liver disease. Hepatitis A does not cause end-stage liver disease.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 28

Question/Fact:

An 88-year-old man with a past history of hypertension and a previous myocardial infarction is admitted for syncope. His family says he was in a store and collapsed to the floor while looking at some books. He then proceeded to have a few jerking movements of both arms and legs, which disappeared spontaneously after a few seconds. A minute or so later, the patient awoke and could not recollect the event. He denies any chest pain, dizziness, or palpitations preceding the collapse. Current medications include aspirin, metoprolol, and hydrochlorothiazide. On examination, the blood pressure is 142/98 mm Hg, pulse is 65/min, and temperature is normal. His chest and abdomen are also normal. He has a 2/6 holosystolic murmur at the apex. An EKG shows a normal sinus rhythm at 62/min, with Q waves in leads V3-V6. There are no ST- or T-wave abnormalities. An echocardiogram shows segmental left ventricular systolic dysfunction and moderate mitral regurgitation. What is the most likely diagnosis for this patient's syncope?

(A) Neurocardiogenic (vasovagal)
(B) Paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia
(C) Orthostatic hypotension
(D) Tonic clonic seizure
(E) Hypovolemia

Answer:

(B) Paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia

Explanation:

Paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia is a relatively common cause of syncope, particularly in patients with structural heart disease. These tachycardias can be associated with an abrupt loss of consciousness without premonitory symptoms. More often than not, the patient is unaware of palpitations, and recovery following an episode is usually prompt and complete without residual neurologic or cardiac sequelae. The presence of pathological Q waves on the EKG, indicative of a prior infarction, is strongly associated with ventricular tachycardia as a cause of syncope in patients with ischemic heart disease. A few clonic jerks of the limbs and face are commonly seen in all forms of fainting. They may be difficult to differentiate from the tonic-clonic jerks of a generalized seizure.

Neurocardiogenic (vasovagal) syncope is commonly precipitated by emotional stress, fear, extreme fatigue, or pain. In its classic form, neurocardiogenic syncope is composed of hypotension, bradycardia, nausea, pallor, and diaphoresis. Orthostatic hypotension occurs in those with a chronic defect or instability of the vasomotor reflexes. The effect of posture is its cardinal feature. Sudden rising from a recumbent position or standing still are precipitating circumstances if there were no sudden changes in posture in this patient. Tonic-clonic seizures can be long lasting and can be associated with loss of bladder and bowel sphincter control, as well as tongue biting. Most commonly, generalized seizures are followed by a postictal state of confusion and sleepiness. The patient described in this question has a rapid recovery of full consciousness, which is not consistent with a seizure.

Hypovolemia can be caused by an acute hemorrhage of the gastrointestinal tract. In the absence of pain and hematemesis, the cause of weakness, faintness, or even unconsciousness may remain obscure until the passage of a black stool. There is nothing in this case to suggest hypovolemia. He has a slow pulse and no evidence of sudden blood or volume loss.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 29

Question/Fact:

A 56-year-old woman comes to the clinic with pain in the wrists, knees, and fingers for several weeks. She has been taking ibuprofen for these symptoms. She has also begun noticing that she is unable to withstand staying out in the sun because the light bothers her eyes and she develops a rash on her cheeks. She has recently been found to have a reactive PPD skin test, and she was started on isoniazid several months ago. She has hypertension, diabetes, and gout. Her medications are metoprolol, metformin, and allopurinol. There has been no recent change in these medications. The physical examination shows a blood pressure of 129/84 mm Hg, a temperature of 37.0 F, and the rash on her face. Which of the following is most appropriate action?

(A) Change her pain medications
(B) Change her antigout medication
(C) Change her antituberculosis medications
(D) Corticosteroids

Answer:

(C) Change her antituberculosis medications

Explanation:

This patient most likely has drug-induced SLE. The most likely cause is her isoniazid. Lupus is definitely associated with isoniazid, chlorpromazine, methyldopa, hydralazine, procainamide, interferon, and quinidine. Although this patient has clinical manifestations, many patients simply develop a positive ANA test without symptoms. The treatment is to remove the offending agent. There are four features of drug-induced SLE that are different from idiopathic SLE. In drug-induced lupus, the sex ratio is nearly equal, whereas in idiopathic SLE, women are affected much more commonly. Nephritis and neurological features are not usually present, complement levels are normal, and anti-DNA antibodies are absent. The clinical and laboratory findings usually revert to normal when the offending agent is removed.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 30

Question/Fact:

You are asked to see a 68-year-old white male in the intensive care unit who was admitted the previous night from a nursing home. He has increasing dyspnea, a fever, and leukocytosis. He was found to have a right lower lobe infiltrate on chest x-ray. He developed respiratory distress shortly after arrival to the emergency department and required mechanical ventilatory support. A left subclavian central venous line was placed. Two sets of blood cultures grew gram-negative rods. The patient was started on piperacillin/tazobactam 3.375 g intravenously every 6 hours. The ICU resident shows you multiple 2- to 3-cm ecchymosed areas on the upper and lower extremities. The patient is on the ventilator and is unresponsive to questions. The vital signs when you see him are: temperature 100 F, heart rate 110/min, respiratory rate 16/min, and blood pressure 100/60 mm Hg. When the patient was admitted, his hemoglobin was 10 g/dL, and the hematocrit was 30%.

Today's labs were drawn and are as follows:

WBC 15,000/mm3; hematocrit 27%; platelets 80,000/mm3
Differential: 90% neutrophils, 5% lymphocytes, and 5% monocytes
PT 25 seconds (control 11 to 14 seconds), PTT 50 seconds (control, 25 to 35 seconds)
Fibrinogen level is <100 mg/dL (normal 150-350 mg/dL).

How should this patient be treated?

(A) Platelet transfusion and aminocaproic acid
(B) Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) and cryoprecipitate
(C) FFP and heparin
(D) Platelets, cryoprecipitate, and FFP

Answer:

(B) Fresh frozen plasma (FFP) and cryoprecipitate

Explanation:

This patient has disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which is commonly seen in critically ill patients. One of the main causes for DIC is sepsis of any cause. Other causes are severe tissue injury, such as burns, head trauma, and obstetric complications (i.e., abruptio placentae, amniotic fluid embolus, and septic abortion). M3 (promyelocytic) acute myelogenous leukemia leads to DIC with particularly high frequency. Any form of major tissue destruction, such as rhabdomyolysis, hemolysis, or tumor lysis syndrome can activate the clotting cascade, particularly starting with factor VII.

DIC may range from an asymptomatic laboratory abnormality to a life-threatening hemorrhage requiring the replacement of clotting factors, platelets, and blood. Both bleeding and thrombosis may be seen at different stages of the disease. Most patients do not come to medical attention, however, until the thrombotic events have used up all the clotting factors and bleeding occurs. Oozing at venipuncture sites and mucosal membranes are seen; however, the bleeding can occur at any site. Renal cortical necrosis and hemorrhagic adrenal infarcts are potentially life-threatening events in DIC.

The most sensitive markers are D-dimers and fibrin split products. Hypofibrinogenemia is also found in DIC. Few disorders give low fibrinogen. A peripheral smear will show microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, such as fragmented red cells, but only in one-fourth of cases. Both the PT and PTT will be prolonged, and thrombocytopenia will be seen, as demonstrated here.

The management for DIC is ultimately treating the underlying cause. In this case, administration of appropriate antibiotics for gram-negative sepsis would be the first priority to turn off endotoxin production. Because this patient exhibits evidence of bleeding, clotting factors also need to be replaced. Platelets need to be infused if the platelet count is less than 50,000/mm3 and there is evidence of severe bleeding. Fresh frozen plasma contains plasma proteins (coagulation factors), proteins C and S, and antithrombin. Cryoprecipitate is predominantly used for fibrinogen, factor VIII, and von Willebrand's factor replacement. Cryoprecipitate is a way of giving a large volume of clotting factors (such as you would get from multiple transfusions of FFP) but without all the volume of fluid. Fibrinogen is only used if the fibrinogen level is <100 mg/dL, as in this case.

Aminocaproic acid or Amicar, is an antifibrinolytic drug that slows fibrinolysis. It should be given only if bleeding is uncontrolled with the initial therapy of FFP and cryoprecipitate. Heparin is given for DIC associated with acute promyelocytic leukemia. Don't give heparin to patients who are already bleeding.

Topic:

Hemotology-Oncology

Record # 31

Question/Fact:

A 61-year-old woman presents to her primary care clinic with difficulty breathing and swallowing, as well as throat and neck pain and voice changes over the past two months. She is very sensitive to cold and constantly feels tired. She also has fatty, foul-smelling stools. She denies abdominal pain, vomiting, or weight changes. She has itching, which has increased over the past month, and constantly experiences dryness of the mouth, which is unrelieved by drinking fluids. During the last visit to her gynecologist, she was found to have an immobile, painful, thickened cervix and was diagnosed with sclerosing cervicitis. The diagnosis was supported by cervical biopsy.

On physical examination, her temperature is normal, and the pulse is 62/min. Her face looks slightly puffy, and her skin is dry and pale. There are xanthomatous lesions around the eyelids and on the face. The mucous membranes are dry. The thyroid gland is palpable, enlarged, asymmetrical, hard, and immobile. There is no tenderness on palpation of the thyroid. There is a mild lower extremity edema. Laboratory studies show: sodium 132 mEq/L, potassium 3.4 mEq/L, BUN 24 mg/dL, creatinine 0.9 mg/dL, cholesterol 290 mg/dL, triglycerides 168 mg/dL, TSH 34 mU/L (normal 0.4-5.0 mU/L), and free T4 0.6 ng/dL (normal 0.9-2.4 ng/dL). The thyroid radioiodine uptake is low, and the scan reveals uneven uptake. Antimitochondrial antibodies are present, and thyroid autoantibodies are negative. Thyroid-gland ultrasound reveals diffuse changes, with no nodular structures. An ultrasound-guided, thyroid-gland biopsy reveals an increased amount of fibrotic tissue. What would be the most effective treatment in this thyroid gland disorder?

(A) Surgical decompression
(B) Corticosteroids
(C) Tamoxifen
(D) Levothyroxine
(E) Radiation therapy

Answer:

(C) Tamoxifen

Explanation:

Riedel's thyroiditis is a form of thyroiditis that occurs in middle-aged or elderly women. It is also called invasive fibrous thyroiditis. It causes hypothyroidism but may also cause hypoparathyroidism as well. The gland is asymmetrically enlarged, stony, hard, adherent to the neck structures, and causes signs of compression and invasion, such as dysphagia, dyspnea, pain, and hoarseness. Usually, this is a part of a multifocal, systemic, fibrotic syndrome, which includes biliary tract sclerosis, sclerosing cervicitis, and Sjögren's syndrome. The treatment is oral tamoxifen, which causes remarkable partial-to-complete remissions in most cases within 3 to 6 months. Treatment must be continued for years. Its effect is likely to be related to antiestrogen activity. Corticosteroids may be added for the relief of compression symptoms. Surgical decompression is difficult because of fibrous adhesions. Thyroxine lowers cholesterol levels in hypothyroidism and is cheaper than a statin.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 32

Question/Fact:

A 65-year-old man comes to the clinic for a regular follow-up visit. He states that he feels well. He had a myocardial infarction 18 months ago. He currently takes aspirin, metoprolol, and atorvastatin 20 mg daily. The patient is a former cigarette smoker. He is normotensive, weighs 102 kg, and his height is 180 cm. He exercises four times a week and maintains a low-fat diet. He was able to lose only three pounds over the past five months. Prior to the infarction his lab tests showed: total cholesterol 240 mg/dL, LDL 153 mg/dL, HDL 25 mg/dL, and triglycerides 290 mg/dL. He was not on any diet or medications at that time. Currently, his labs after the start of medications are: total cholesterol 210 mg/dL, LDL 127 mg/dL, HDL 35 mg/dL, and triglycerides 250 mg/dL.

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step?

(A) Change atorvastatin to gemfibrozil
(B) Continue atorvastatin 20 mg daily
(C) Increase the dose of atorvastatin to 40 mg daily and check cholesterol profile in 4 to 8 weeks
(D) Change atorvastatin to fluvastatin
(E) Continue atorvastatin at the present dose and add cholestyramine

Answer:

(C) Increase the dose of atorvastatin to 40 mg daily and check cholesterol profile in 4 to 8 weeks

Explanation:

The greatest single benefit of lipid-lowering therapy is the effect of statins on lowering mortality in patients with high LDL levels and a history of coronary artery disease (CAD). The LDL goal in a patient with CAD is <100 mg/dL. The patient in this question has responded to drug treatment with atorvastatin but did not achieve the desired LDL level of <100 mg/dL. HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) work by inhibiting the rate-limiting enzyme in the formation of cholesterol. The effect is found in all drugs in the class, and switching from one to another is unlikely to help anything. Gemfibrozil will lower the LDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides but will not have as great an effect on mortality as the statins. Continuation of the same dose of atorvastatin is incorrect because the goal of reducing LDL cholesterol has not been reached yet. Adding gemfibrozil, although not one of the choices, would not be ideal because there is a higher rate of myositis when statins are combined with either fibric-acid derivatives or niacin. Adding cholestyramine would not be ideal in this patient because he has high triglyceride levels. Cholestyramine has a tendency to raise triglyceride levels, especially in patients with baseline hypertriglyceridemia. The maximum dose of atorvastatin is 80 mg a day, and in general, it is better to maximize only one drug before adding a second.



Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 33

Question/Fact:

A 38-year-old woman is admitted to the hospital with complaints of nausea, vomiting, and generalized muscle weakness for the past 3 to 4 days. She was found to be HIV-positive two years ago. Her medications include zidovudine, lamivudine, nelfinavir, azithromycin, and Bactrim (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole). Physical examination reveals a thin female with a normal temperature and pulse, and a blood pressure of 100/50 mm Hg. There are multiple needle tracks on both upper extremities. The submandibular lymph nodes are 2 cm in size, nonpainful, and mobile. Cardiac sounds are normal, and lung auscultation reveals bibasilar crackles. The abdomen is unremarkable. There is no leg edema. Laboratory tests show:

White cell count 3,400/mm3; hematocrit 36.4%; sodium 142 mEq/L; potassium 6.2 meq/L; chloride 122 mEq/L; bicarbonate 15 mEq/L; BUN 24 mg/dL; creatinine 1.2 g/dL; and glucose 98 mg/dL. Twenty-four-hour urine potassium excretion is 16 mmol/L (low). The serum aldosterone level in the supine position is 11 ng/dL (normal 2-5 ng/dL).

What test would you order next?

(A) Serum cortisol
(B) Kidney biopsy
(C) Fludrocortisone stimulation test
(D) Serum renin
(E) Serum and urinary osmolality

Answer:

(C) Fludrocortisone stimulation test

Explanation:

This patient presents with hyperkalemia and an increased serum aldosterone level. This condition is called pseudohypoaldosteronism, which is defined as hyperkalemia with a normal or increased level of aldosterone. This is because of a decreased renal tubular response to mineralocorticoids. This can be caused by drugs that decrease aldosterone binding to mineralocorticoid receptors in the kidney, such as spironolactone, or by agents that impair sodium-channel activity, such as trimethoprim, amiloride, or triamterene. The final effect is reduced potassium secretion. In this case, the causative agent is the trimethoprim in the Bactrim.

A similar process is observed in interstitial renal diseases that also decrease tubular potassium secretion such as in systemic lupus erythematous, amyloidosis, or sickle-cell disease, which lead to renal tubular acidosis (RTA). Pseudohypoaldosteronism can also be from a genetic disorder. Type I pseudohypoaldosteronism is characterized by severe salt wasting and hypotension in infants. Type II pseudohypoaldosteronism, or Gordon's syndrome, does not cause salt wasting. It is thought to result from increased chloride, sodium, and potassium reabsorption in the collecting tubule. This results in an increased plasma volume and suppressed plasma aldosterone levels.

In this patient, the 24-hour urine potassium excretion rate distinguishes renal from extrarenal causes of hyperkalemia. In renal-related causes of hyperkalemia, the urinary potassium level is <20 mEq per 24-hour period. The next step should be the administration of fludrocortisone, which helps to distinguish aldosterone deficiency from aldosterone resistance. If this patient's hyperkalemia is simply from aldosterone deficiency, the urinary potassium level will rise to >40 mEq/24 h when she is given fludrocortisone. If it is from aldosterone resistance, the urinary potassium will stay low.

Cortisol and renin levels are not needed because we already know that the serum aldosterone level is elevated. If the aldosterone level were low, the next step would be to rule out hyporeninemic hypoaldosteronism and conditions associated with a high cortisol level, such as ACE inhibitors or heparin use. Low cortisol levels would indicate hyperkalemia from Addison's disease.

There is no need for a biopsy in this patient because there is no evidence pointing toward glomerular disease from the HIV. The renal function is well preserved in this case.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 34

Question/Fact:

A 63-year-old man with diabetes comes to the office with an ulcer on his foot for the past week. He has no fever. On physical examination, you find a 3 ´ 3-cm ulcer on the base of his foot. There is significant swelling and redness of the surrounding soft tissue. The area is warm to the touch. What is the best initial test?

(A) X-ray
(B) CT scan
(C) MRI
(D) Biopsy
(E) Bone scan

Answer:

(A) X-ray

Explanation:

In a patient suspected of having osteomyelitis, the best initial test is always an x-ray. Although the x-ray can take several weeks to become abnormal, you should still do this test first. The bone must lose at least 50% of its calcium content for the x-ray to become abnormal. However, you should not do more complex tests before the simple x-ray. If the x-ray is abnormal and consistent with osteomyelitis, no further radiologic tests will be necessary. There is no point in doing an MRI or CT scan if the x-ray were abnormal. The MRI would be done next if the x-ray were normal. A bone scan has excellent sensitivity but very poor specificity because of all the surrounding soft-tissue swelling.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 35

Question/Fact:

A 35-year-old Asian man comes to the emergency department after a syncopal episode that occurred one hour ago while exercising. The patient spontaneously recovered five minutes later. He remembers having palpitations, shortness of breath, and dizziness prior to fainting. He recalls having occasional palpitations and dizziness for years. The patient has no significant medical history. On examination, his heart rate is 140/min, and his respiratory rate is 22/min. He is afebrile. The cardiac examination reveals a normal S1 and S2 with no audible murmurs or gallops. His respiratory and abdominal examinations are benign. There is no evidence of peripheral edema. Three sets of troponins, six hours apart, are within normal limits, and the chest x-ray reveals no cardiopulmonary disease. A cardiac electrophysiologic study was performed and produced sustained ventricular tachycardia. The EKG shows marked ST elevation in right precordial leads with an incomplete right bundle branch block. What is the best treatment for this patient?

(A) Flecainide
(B) Beta-blocker, nitroglycerin, aspirin, and oxygen
(C) Verapamil
(D) Amiodarone
(E) Pacemaker placement
(F) Implant cardioverter/defibrillator device

Answer:

(F) Implant cardioverter/defibrillator device

Explanation:

This patient has Brugada syndrome, which is characterized by marked ST-segment elevation in the right precordial leads (V1-V3) with an incomplete right bundle-branch block pattern. It is associated with a high incidence of sudden death resulting from ventricular fibrillation (VF). This syndrome has been described worldwide but appears to be more common in Asian countries. It is the leading cause of death among young men in the northeastern part of Thailand. Because the risk of VF is high in patients without prior VF episodes, implantation of an implantable cardioverter/defibrillator (ICD) has been advocated as a primary therapy. In this patient, ICD is a Class 1 indication as per ACC/AHA guidelines. He has had syncope with clinically relevant, hemodynamically significant, sustained VT or VF induced at electrophysiological study. Amiodarone and beta-blockers, as well as a pacemaker, do not offer adequate protection. Aspirin, oxygen, and nitroglycerin are treatments for a myocardial infarction, which is unlikely in a patient with normal cardiac enzymes. Even if you have never heard of Brugada syndrome, the answer would stay the same. He has syncope from inducible VT.

Flecainide and other sodium-channel blockers may precipitate or further exacerbate ventricular arrhythmias in patients with Brugada syndrome due. Verapamil is indicated for rate control of atrial arrhythmia and would not be considered as a therapy of ventricular tachycardia.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 36

Question/Fact:

A 47-year-old man presents to your office complaining of progressively worsening episodes of shortness of breath. He has a history of asthma that has been well controlled with inhaled steroids, which he takes daily, and an albuterol inhaler, which he only needs to take approximately once to twice per month. He was hospitalized 6 weeks ago for new-onset stable angina and was discharged with sublingual nitroglycerine and low-dose aspirin, which he takes daily. Shortly after his discharge, he states that he began having increasing nasal and sinus congestion, which soon progressed to episodes of wheezing, dry cough, and shortness of breath. He is now having these episodes about four times a week. In addition, he has had these symptoms at night three times in the past month. On physical examination, patient is afebrile, and lung examination reveals prolonged expiration with bilateral expiratory wheezes. He has nasal polyps. The peak expiratory flow is 85% of predicted. Which of the following would be the most appropriate management of this patient's condition?

(A) Increased dose of inhaled steroids
(B) Add a long-acting beta-agonist
(C) Add theophylline
(D) A short course of oral steroids tapering over 4 weeks
(E) Add a leukotriene modifier

Answer:

(E) Add a leukotriene modifier

Explanation:

This patient has aspirin-induced asthma. His symptoms clearly began after he began taking aspirin. His progression is the classic clinical presentation of aspirin-induced asthma, which starts with rhinosinusitis that slowly progresses to asthma. It is thought that the mechanism of aspirin-induced asthma has to do with aspirin's inhibition of cyclooxygenase, which then diverts the chemical pathway to ultimately produce more leukotrienes, which in turn causes asthma. Logically, the drug of choice that would intervene in this pathway would be the leukotriene modifiers, like montelukast and zafirleukast. From what we know of the frequency of this patient's symptoms, he most likely has mild persistent asthma, defined as symptoms greater than twice a week but less than once a day, with more than two episodes of night symptoms per month, and a peak flow >80% of predicted value. Because he is already taking an inhaled steroid and beta-agonist, a leukotriene modifier would be an acceptable addition.

Theophylline may be used for mild persistent asthma, but in this case it would not be as good a choice as leukotriene modifiers due to the leukotriene modifiers' direct relationship to the pathway described above (showing how aspirin may induce asthma). Long-acting beta agonists would be indicated in moderate persistent asthma. Oral steroids are indicated only in severe persistent asthma and in acute exacerbations. Increasing the dose of inhaled steroids is indicated in moderate or severe persistent asthma.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 37

Question/Fact:

A 29-year-old woman presents to the office complaining of intermittent hemoptysis. On further questioning, she reveals that she grows tired after doing minimal office work. She is unable to jog the usual two miles that she used to do until just last year. She lived in India until the age of nine. Physical examination shows: temperature 98.7 F, blood pressure 130/70 mm Hg, respirations 18/min, and pulse 90/min. Rales are heard at the bases of both lungs. Heart examination reveals a loud S1, a split S2, and an opening snap followed by a low-pitched, early diastolic rumble. No edema or ulcers are noted on the extremities. EKG shows a normal sinus rhythm at 85/min; tall, peaked P waves; and P pulmonale. Straightening of the left heart border and prominent pulmonary vasculature are seen on the chest x-ray. As her disease worsens, what would you expect to find on auscultation?

(A) Development of an S3 gallop
(B) Development of an S4 gallop
(C) The opening snap moving further away from the S2
(D) The opening snap moving closer to S2

Answer:

(D) The opening snap moving closer to S2

Explanation:

As the severity of mitral stenosis worsens, the opening snap moves closer to S2. The opening snap is produced by the pressure in the atrium, resulting in the sudden opening of the mitral valve with an increased sound because of the fibrosis. As mitral stenosis worsens, the pressure in the atrium increases. This opens the mitral valve earlier. The more severe the mitral disease, the earlier the valve opens. Both S3 and S4 gallops are signs of the rapid entry of blood into the ventricle, not because the stenotic valve is blocking the rapid entry of blood into the ventricles.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 38

Question/Fact:

What is the appropriate mode of colorectal cancer screening for the following case?

A 60-year-old man with occult-positive stool but took aspirin; an upper endoscopy that showed a large gastric ulcer; and a normal colonoscopy at age 52.

(A) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(B) Flexible sigmoidoscopy now and every 5 years
(C) Colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years
(D) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years
(E) Stool occult cards every year; colonoscopy if positive
(F) Colonoscopy at age 40 and every 5 years
(G) Colonoscopy in 3 years
(H) Colonoscopy in 1 year
(I) Colonoscopy every 1 to 2 years

Answer:

(A) Colonoscopy now and every 10 years

Explanation:

Colonoscopy is the preferred method of screening for colon cancer. Average-risk persons should undergo colonoscopy at age 50, and if normal, every 10 years. If a polyp is found, the colonoscopy should be repeated after 3 years. When there is a family history of colon cancer, screening should begin at age 40 or ten years prior to the age of the family member. The earlier date is respected. Follow-up examinations for persons with family histories of colon cancer should occur at 5-year intervals. When there are multiple family members, screening colonoscopy should be performed at age 25 and every 1 to 2 years (characteristic of persons with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome). Colonoscopy is recommended 1 year after a hemicolectomy for colon cancer to verify the absence of recurrence and the presence of new lesions.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 39

Question/Fact:

A 50-year-old man presents with a 3-week history of fatigue, generalized body aches, and a decreased appetite. He states that in the past few weeks he has stopped playing golf three times a week due to dyspnea and fatigue while walking on the course. While brushing his teeth, he has noticed that his gums bleed more easily. He shows you multiple erythematous nodules over his upper extremities. For the past few days, he has been coughing greenish-yellow sputum, and his temperature while at home was 100.9 F. He appears pale and in mild respiratory distress. Vital signs are: temperature 100.7 F, pulse 105/min, and respiratory rate 23/min. You see multiple petechiae on the hard palate. On lung examination, there are rales at the right base with tactile fremitus and egophony. You cannot feel his spleen. You notice multiple erythematous nodules along his arms. Laboratory studies and a peripheral smear show the following:

WBC 80,000/mm3, neutrophils 60%, blasts 8%, lymphocytes 30%, hemoglobin 10 mg/dL, hematocrit 29%, platelets 40,000/mm3. Blasts are present on the peripheral smear.

What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Leukapheresis
(B) Daunorubicin and cytarabine
(C) Platelet transfusion
(D) Bone marrow transplant
(E) All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA)

Answer:

(B) Daunorubicin and cytarabine

Explanation:

This patient has the signs, symptoms, and hematologic evidence of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). AML frequently presents with symptoms related to anemia and thrombocytopenia, as seen in this patient's fatigue and easy bleeding. The erythematous nodules seen on the upper extremities are termed Sweet's syndrome and are common in AML. Sweet's syndrome is caused by the cutaneous infiltration of the skin with neutrophils. It may occur even in patients who are profoundly neutropenic.

To make the initial diagnosis of acute leukemia, a peripheral blood smear is all that is usually required. The smear shows blasts, which is characteristic of acute leukemia. The blasts can often tell whether the patient has myelogenous or lymphocytic leukemia. A bone-marrow biopsy confirms the diagnosis when there are 30% or more blasts present. Also seen in the smear or marrow are Auer rods, which are pathognomonic for AML. The white cell count can be elevated, low, or normal. No matter what the count is, the cells are functionally abnormal. In the past, stains for myeloperoxidase and Sudan black helped confirm the diagnosis. This is somewhat antiquated. Flow cytometry is far more accurate.

This patient requires induction chemotherapy with an anthracycline (either daunorubicin or idarubicin) plus cytarabine. Leukapheresis is an emergency treatment for hyperleukocytosis. It is reserved for patients with white cell counts >100,000/mm3 and who have other signs of hyperleukocytosis, such as headache, dyspnea, blurry vision, priapism, and confusion. This patient's dyspnea is from his pneumonia. An allogeneic bone marrow transplant might be appropriate if HLA-matched donors could be found -- but only after the daunorubicin and cytarabine have induced a remission. Autologous transplantations can be done for those without a matched donor.

Remission is defined as the resolution of the presence of blasts on the peripheral smear and <5% blasts in the marrow. All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) is a treatment for a specific M3 or promyelocytic type of AML. The ATRA is added to the standard chemotherapy; it is not a substitute.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 40

Question/Fact:

A 24-year-old woman with a history of SLE presents to your office in the seventh month of her first pregnancy. She has been having intermittent episodes of headaches associated with some nausea and vomiting over the past week. Her lupus has been well controlled on low-dose prednisone. Her normal blood pressure is 125/80 mm Hg. Her urinalysis and creatinine concentrations were normal at the last visit. Anti-Ro, anti-La, and antiphospholipid antibodies were negative at the onset of her pregnancy. Today her blood pressure is 135/85 mm Hg, with a pulse of 80/min. Her physical examination and fetal monitoring is unremarkable. Today's urinalysis shows proteinuria, erythrocytes, and erythrocyte casts. Her creatinine is 1.7 mg/dL. The complete blood count and liver function tests are normal. Complement levels show low levels of C3 and C4. What would be most appropriate as the next best mode of therapy?

(A) Bedrest
(B) Magnesium sulfate
(C) Cyclophosphamide
(D) Azathioprine
(E) Emergent cesarean section
(F) Methotrexate

Answer:

(D) Azathioprine

Explanation:

The patient has lupus nephritis, probably exacerbated by her pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a frequent complication of pregnancy in SLE and is seen in the third trimester. It is often difficult to distinguish lupus nephritis from pre-eclampsia. Laboratory testing is often useful with lupus nephritis, which shows proteinuria and an active urine sediment, such as red cells and red cell casts, whereas pre-eclampsia has only proteinuria. Complement levels are low in flares of SLE in comparison with pre-eclampsia, which has normal complement levels. Pre-eclampsia is also associated with thrombocytopenia and elevated liver function tests.

The treatment of pre-eclampsia includes bedrest in mild cases when the diastolic pressure is <105 mm Hg and there is only trace proteinuria. In severe cases, intravenous antihypertensive medications, magnesium sulfate, and emergency caesarian section are indicated. Treatment of active lupus nephritis in pregnancy is dependent on the absence of adverse effects of the medication on the fetus. High-dose prednisone can be used relatively safely. Hydralazine can be used to control the blood pressure. Azathioprine can also be used, with caution, if there is no evidence of leukopenia. Cyclophosphamide and methotrexate are absolutely contraindicated.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 41

Question/Fact:

A 55-year-old woman comes to the clinic after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus during a routine screening performed at work. She is currently asymptomatic and denies any history of frequent urination. On physical examination, you note a normal blood pressure. Her heart, lungs, and the remainder of the physical examination are within normal limits. When you ask the nurse to weigh your patient, you note her BMI to also be within normal limits. What is the next step in the management of this patient?

(A) Begin intense insulin therapy
(B) Begin glipizide
(C) Begin pioglitazone
(D) Begin acarbose
(E) Begin metformin

Answer:

(B) Begin glipizide

Explanation:

In the nonobese patient who presents with new-onset, type-2 diabetes, the initial therapy of choice is a sulfonylurea. Because these medications work primarily by inducing secretion of endogenous insulin, they may cause weight gain and potentially cause hypoglycemia as a side effect.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 42

Question/Fact:

A 38-year-old healthy man comes to the emergency department for the onset of a stroke. The patient reports that he had several weeks of malaise and feeling feverish. There has been some dyspnea as well. He has also lost 10 pounds over the last several weeks. He has no previous cardiac history. On physical examination, his temperature is 37.9 C (100.2 F), blood pressure is 90/60 mm Hg, and the pulse rate is 100/min and regular. Apart from the neurologic deficits, the rest of physical examination is remarkable for a diastolic murmur, which changes markedly with bodily position. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is 67 mm/min. What is the most likely diagnosis?

(A) Aortic stenosis
(B) Infective endocarditis with ruptured valve
(C) Left atrial myxoma
(D) Rheumatic fever
(E) Left ventricular mural thrombus

Answer:

(C) Left atrial myxoma

Explanation:

Atrial myxomas are the most common type of primary cardiac tumor. They average 4 to 8 centimeters in size. They present with signs of obstruction, such as dyspnea, and constitutional signs, such as fever, weight loss, and emboli. Anemia, hypergammaglobulinemia, and an elevated ESR are often associated with atrial myxomas. The clue to the diagnosis in this patient is that the murmur changes with bodily position. Atrial myxomas are diagnosed with echocardiography, CT scanning, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). None of the other cardiac lesions listed in the answers choices will have a significant change with bodily position. In addition, aortic stenosis and ruptured mitral valves will give systolic murmurs that are not diastolic. This is the best way to distinguish this case from endocarditis before blood cultures and an echocardiogram are performed. Myxomas are managed with surgical excision. Mural thrombi by themselves will not give a murmur.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 43

Question/Fact:

A 35-year-old man with no significant past medical history comes to the office complaining of malaise, fever, headache, and a diffuse, nonpruritic, maculopapular rash that has spread from his palms and soles over the last ten days. A recent test for HIV was negative. On physical examination, he has a temperature of 100.5 F. There are mucocutaneous patches at the angles of the mouth, and the palate and pharynx are inflamed. He has generalized adenopathy with a maculopapular rash on the margins of the ribs, lateral trunk, and all four extremities. The rash on the palms and soles is hyperpigmented with a superficial scale. There is a large, pale, flat-topped papule found in the perineum. What would be the test of choice to follow this patient's response to treatment?

(A) Darkfield microscopy
(B) FTA-ABS
(C) MHA-TP
(D) VDRL
(E) Serial clinical examinations

Answer:

(D) VDRL

Explanation:

The VDRL test is the initial test for syphilis. The VDRL is readily quantified, and for that reason is the test for following the response to treatment. The VDRL test begins to turn positive within one week after the onset of the chancre and is positive in 99% of patients with secondary syphilis. The quantitative titer of the VDRL test is somewhat useful in initial diagnosis of a chancre but quite useful in following a therapeutic response. Most patients with secondary syphilis have titers of at least 1:32, whereas most patients with false-positive VDRL tests have titers of less than 1:8. Significant rises of fourfold or greater of acute and convalescent sera are strongly indicative of acute syphilis. The FTA-ABS test is best used as a confirmatory test. It is more difficult to perform than the VDRL test and cannot be as easily quantified. It is reported in terms of relative brilliance of fluorescence, from borderline to 4+. The FTA-ABS test often remains reactive for life despite adequate therapy and therefore would not be useful in following a patient's response to treatment. Agglutination of red blood cells to which T. pallidum antigens have been fixed is the basis of the microhemagglutination assay for T. pallidum (MHA-TP). It is less sensitive than either the VDRL or the FTA-ABS test in primary syphilis. Treponemal tests, such as the FTA or MHA-TP, do not correlate well with the degree of disease activity. The Wright stain of the scrapings is diagnostic for granuloma inguinale, or donovanosis. The Tzanck prep detects multinucleated giant cells or intracellular inclusion bodies of herpes simplex or varicella zoster. Darkfield microscopy is diagnostic for primary syphilis alone and is not used to follow the response for treatment.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 44

Question/Fact:

A 38-year-old woman is admitted with an excruciating headache, photophobia, nausea, and vomiting for the last hour. Her temperature is 98 F, and her blood pressure is 172/90 mm Hg. She has a stiff and painful neck with no focal neurological deficits and no cranial nerve palsies. A CT scan of her head reveals the presence of a subarachnoid hemorrhage with no intraparenchymal blood. A four-vessel angiogram does not reveal the source of bleeding, and there are no aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations. She is started on nimodipine and is stable for six days.

On the sixth day, she develops mild weakness of the right arm and leg. She is awake, alert, and oriented, and is in no respiratory distress. She is now afebrile with a blood pressure of 128/62 mm Hg. A repeat CT scan of the head shows no evidence of fresh blood. The transcranial Doppler shows increased velocity of blood flow and narrowing in the middle cerebral artery. What is the next step in management?

(A) Repeat angiogram
(B) Increase the mean arterial pressure with crystalloids and dopamine
(C) Start antihypertensive medications
(D) Intubation and hyperventilation
(E) Ventriculostomy

Answer:

(B) Increase the mean arterial pressure with crystalloids and dopamine

Explanation:

Cerebral perfusion pressure is defined as the mean arterial pressure minus the intracranial pressure. The patient is this case presented with cerebral vasospasm six days after the initial subarachnoid hemorrhage. This was confirmed by the transcranial Doppler. The repeat CT scan of the head showed no evidence of fresh blood. At this point, the cerebral perfusion pressure should be increased by raising the mean arterial pressure with crystalloids and dopamine. Repeating the angiogram is not indicated because the transcranial Doppler already showed spasm of the middle cerebral artery. Antihypertensive medications are not indicated unless the blood pressure is much higher. Intubation and hyperventilation and the ventriculostomy are indicated when there is an abnormally increased intracranial pressure, leading to a decrease in cerebral perfusion. Nimodipine has only a limited role in preventing vasospasm of the cerebral vessels. If spasm occurs while on nimodipine, there are few therapeutic alternatives, one of which is to volume expand the patient and try to increase the cerebral perfusion pressure. This will hopefully overcome the vasospasm and increase flow through the narrowed vessel.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 45

Question/Fact:

A 52-year-old woman is complaining of several weeks of swelling of both hands and ankles. She notes stiffness in the morning that subsides during the day. She has also experienced generalized weakness, cough, and intermittent low-grade fevers. The patient denies having a skin rash or dryness of the eyes. Examination reveals symmetrical swelling and warmth of the wrists, knees, and proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints of the hands. There are small subcutaneous nodules palpated over the tendons of her fingers and elbows. A faint pericardial rub is auscultated. Initial laboratory tests reveal: white cell count 11,200/mm3, hematocrit 32%, mean corpuscular volume 92 μm3, platelets 660,000/mm3, creatinine 1.2 mg/dL, and glucose 150 mg/dL. What should be the first diagnostic test performed?

(A) X-rays of hands, wrists, and ankles
(B) Rheumatoid factor and sedimentation rate
(C) Antinuclear antibody
(D) Examine the synovial fluid
(E) Echocardiogram

Answer:

(E) Echocardiogram

Explanation:

All of these tests should be obtained in this patient. The echocardiogram should be done first because of the presence of the pericardial friction rub. The point of this question is for you to be able to recognize one of the only life-threatening manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical pericarditis is rare in rheumatoid arthritis, but this patient seems to have it. Pericardial involvement is found in 40% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis at autopsy.

This patient presents with clinical manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis with morning stiffness, which subsides during the course of the day, symmetric joint swelling with associated stiffness, and tenderness and warmth of joints of the hands. Rheumatoid nodules are present and have a high degree of specificity for rheumatoid arthritis. They only occur in 30% of patients and tend to occur later in the course of the disease. She also presents with fever and weight loss.

During both acute and chronic phases, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and rheumatoid factor are elevated. Moderate normochromic, normocytic anemia is common. Thrombocytosis occurs as a result of overall inflammation. X-ray changes are specific for rheumatoid arthritis but are not sensitive because only 15 to 30% of patients show evidence of disease on x-ray in the first year after diagnosis. Radiographic changes occur when there is advanced disease that erodes through the cortex of the bone. Magnetic resonance imaging may detect bone erosions earlier in the course of the disease. Abnormalities also occur in the cervical spine with C1-C2 subluxation, but the changes take years to occur. Rheumatoid factor IgM is present in more than 75% of patients. High titers of rheumatoid factors are usually associated with severe rheumatoid disease. They may also be elevated in syphilis, sarcoidosis, endocarditis, tuberculosis, leprosy, parasitic infections, and old age. Antinuclear antibodies are seen in 30 to 40% of patients. Their titers are lower in rheumatoid arthritis than they are in systemic lupus erythematosus. Examination of the joint fluid typically reveals leukocytosis with neutrophils and low glucose and complement levels.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 46

Question/Fact:

A 27-year-old homosexual man presents to the emergency department complaining of worsening anal and rectal pain over the past two weeks. There is an occasional rectal discharge containing mucus and blood. He reports feeling the urge to defecate multiple times during the day, but often he is unable to have a bowel movement. For the past three days, he has had high fevers associated with shaking chills, night sweats, arthralgias, and myalgias, all of which started two days ago. He has a temperature of 103.2 F and a heart rate of 115/min. There is marked bilateral inguinal and femoral lymphadenopathy. Digital rectal examination shows marked tenderness and a scant, purulent, blood-tinged discharge. No masses are palpated. The genital examination is within normal limits. His white cell count is 17,500/mm3.. The complement fixation test is strongly positive. Flexible sigmoidoscopy shows ulcerative proctitis with areas of mucosal bleeding and purulent exudates. The rectal biopsy shows crypt abscesses with marked inflammatory cell invasion and granulomas with giant cells within the mucosa. Which of the following is the best treatment for this patient?

(A) Sulfasalazine
(B) Metronidazole
(C) Corticosteroids
(D) Doxycycline
(E) Chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy

Answer:

(D) Doxycycline

Explanation:

This patient has primary anorectal lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). LGV is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.. People who engage in anal intercourse may get a primary anal or rectal infection. Patients with acute LGV infection typically have positive complement fixation tests in high titer. Patients with anorectal infection, as in patients with genital infection, often have inguinal lymphadenopathy and may present with fever, chills, and night sweats, mimicking malignant lymphoma. The presentation of rectal pain with discharge and blood may mimic ulcerative colitis. The biopsy finding of inflammatory cell infiltrates and granulomas with giant cells can closely resemble Crohn's disease, but these patients would have a negative complement fixation test and far less adenopathy. In this patient, sulfasalazine would not be effective, and corticosteroids would be detrimental because he has an infection. Metronidazole provides good coverage of anaerobic bacteria like Clostridium difficile that would cause a pseudomembranous colitis, but it would not be effective against C. trachomatis.. At least three weeks of doxycycline or tetracycline would be the best treatment to clear the infection of C. trachomatis in this patient. Definitive diagnosis can also be with a blood antibody test in high titer or by aspiration of an enlarged lymph node when it shows the organism. Even if you thought this was Crohn's disease, sulfasalazine would not be the best therapy. Mesalamine would be used.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 47

Question/Fact:

A 55-year-old man with no significant history comes to the office complaining of fatigue and abdominal fullness for a month. He claims that over the past year, he has been admitted to the hospital five times for bacterial pneumonia. The physical examination is remarkable for a massively enlarged spleen and liver. There are no palpable lymph nodes. The remainder of the examination is unremarkable. Laboratory studies show: WBC 1,100/mm3, hemoglobin 8.5 mg/dL, hematocrit 25%, platelets 34,000/mm3 (neutrophils 40%, lymphocytes 58%, monocytes 0%, eosinophils 2%). A bone-marrow aspirate was attempted but was unsuccessful. What is the best treatment for this patient?

(A) Interferon
(B) Hydroxyurea
(C) Fludarabine
(D) Cladribine
(E) Cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone

Answer:

(D) Cladribine

Explanation:

Hairy-cell leukemia is an uncommon indolent cancer of B lymphocytes. It occurs most commonly in middle-aged men with an average age of 55. It has a 5:1 male to female ratio. Patients usually complain of a gradual onset of fatigue and symptoms related to an enlarged spleen. Some cases of hairy-cell leukemia come to the doctor's attention because of recurrent infections. The physical examination usually shows splenomegaly and sometimes hepatomegaly.

Lymphadenopathy is uncommon in a patient with hairy-cell leukemia, unlike patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or lymphoma. The course is usually marked by pancytopenia with recurrent infections. Nearly all patients have a profound monocytopenia. Monocytopenia is usually not seen in any other condition.

The peripheral smear has cells with cytoplasmic projections or "hairy cells." The bone-marrow aspirate is usually dry, and biopsy is necessary. Staining with tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) is usually positive. Treatment is cladribine (2-chlorodeoxyadenosine; CdA).

Recombinant interferon-alpha was formerly the standard treatment for a patient with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) but is not as effective as cladribine and also has more side effects. This patient does not have CML because he does not have an elevated white blood cell count. Hydroxyurea used to be the standard treatment for a patient with CML prior to the introduction of imitanib. Although this patient has organomegaly, anemia, and thrombocytopenia (which go along with CLL), he is lacking the high white blood cell count and lymphocytosis essential for diagnosis. The treatment of CLL is with fludarabine or chlorambucil/prednisone.

It is unlikely that this patient has Hodgkin's lymphoma because of the lack of lymphadenopthy. Therefore, treatment with CVP (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone) is not the proper choice for this patient.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 48
Done till here
Question/Fact:

A 75-year-old white woman presents to your primary care clinic for a routine visit. She has a history of type II diabetes mellitus and essential hypertension. She currently takes insulin NPH 25 units in the morning, 15 units in the evening, and 5 units of regular insulin at bedtime. She also takes hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg daily. She does not have any physical complaints. Her blood pressure is 130/80 mm Hg. HgbAlc in the clinic is 7.0%. You also do a urinalysis, and it is negative for protein and ketones. Her baseline BUN is 15 mg/dL, and the creatinine is 1.0 mg/dL.

What is the next best step in managing this patient?

(A) 24-hour urine for microalbumin
(B) Morning spot urine for albumin/creatinine
(C) Check the urine protein level under different postures
(D) Low protein diet
(E) Increase morning insulin dose to 30 units

Answer:

(B) Morning spot urine for albumin/creatinine

Explanation:

The management of glomerulopathy due to diabetes mellitus is a common and important task that all general internists must face. In the United States, diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). It occurs in 33% of all diabetics. Diabetic nephropathy is a spectrum of progressive renal disease ranging from microalbuminuria (30-300 mg/24 h) to overt nephrotic syndrome and ESRD. In terms of incidence, 30 to 40% of type I diabetics and 15 to 20% of type II diabetics will acquire ESRD in 20 years.

So how does one screen for diabetic nephropathy and try to prevent its progression? Urine dipsticks that are commonly found at internists' offices are not sensitive enough to detect microalbuminuria and will only be positive once the albumin level is above 300 mg. The collection of timed urine samples is required for the diagnosis of early nephropathy. One way of collecting is the 24-hour urine for microalbumin. However, there are wide variations in the amount of albumin that is excreted in that period of time. Upright posture, protein ingestion, and exercise all tend to increase urine albumin excretion. For all these reasons, a more accurate method to detect microalbuminuria is to do a morning spot urine for albumin/creatinine. Patients should be instructed to discard a voided urine sample before going to bed and then collecting urine samples thereafter until the morning. When the value is 30 to 300 mg albumin/per gram of creatinine, microalbuminuria is present. However, this test needs to be repeated 2 to 3 times for a duration of 3 to 6 months to confirm the diagnosis..

The prevention of the progression of diabetic nephropathy once it is found can be accomplished by tight glycemic control, a low protein diet (0.8 g/kg/day), and initiation of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE inhibitors have been found to slow the progression of proteinuria, even in normotensive diabetics. This patient's glycemic control is nearly optimal and should be maintained to keep the HgbA1c approximately 7.0% by weight loss, as well as adjusting the insulin regimen. Although all these measures will be beneficial in reducing proteinuria, a diagnosis first needs to be made.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 49

Question/Fact:

A 60-year-old man has an episode of loss of consciousness for 60 seconds while walking to his bedroom. Prior to the episode, the patient was lightheaded, nauseated, and diaphoretic. His wife noticed jerking of the upper extremities upon falling to the ground. He seemed to be transiently dazed but was soon alert and recovered completely. Two weeks ago, he had a similar episode of loss of consciousness. The patient has a history of lung cancer diagnosed 6 months ago. He underwent lobectomy and chemotherapy. He is afebrile with a regular heart rate of 62/min. His blood pressure is 100/60 mm Hg with no orthostatic changes. Cardiovascular examination reveals normal heart sounds with no murmurs. There are no carotid bruits. The neurological examination is normal. There are no laboratory abnormalities. EKG shows a sinus rhythm with no abnormalities. The head CT scan is normal. Which of the following will most likely reveal the etiology of the episode of loss of consciousness?

(A) Brain biopsy
(B) Electroencephalogram
(C) 24-hour Holter monitoring
(D) Tilt-table testing
(E) MRI of the brain
(F) Echocardiogram

Answer:

(D) Tilt-table testing

Explanation:

Syncope of neurovasogenic (vasovagal) etiology is often mistaken for a seizure, especially in patients who have abnormal muscular movements. However, this patient recovered rapidly with no postictal symptoms, such as persistent confusion and an altered mental status. If the defect in cerebral perfusion is severe from a vasovagal episode, there can be accompanying clonic movements and limb hypertonicity.

Tilt-table testing is useful to support diagnosis of neurocardiogenic syncope, especially in patients with recurrent syncope. It is performed by keeping the patient in an upright posture on a tilt table with footboard support. The angle of the tilt table varies from 60 to 80 degrees, and the duration of an upright posture is for 25 to 45 minutes. If the patient has severe hypotension with paradoxical bradycardia, the diagnosis of neurocardiogenic syncope is likely.

Seizure might look like a possible cause in this patient, considering the possible presence of metastasis to the brain. The CT scan in this patient was negative for metastasis. Tilt-table testing provides useful information, although in 30% of cases, the cause of syncope remains unknown.

EEG can help in confirmatory evidence of epilepsy. The sensitivity of EEG is limited; it is normal in up to one fourth of patients with epilepsy.

There isn't enough evidence to prove that this patient had a seizure to indicate that he should be started on antiseizure medications as the initial step in management. A 24-hour Holter monitor may be helpful in evaluating for possible arrhythmias; however, this patient has no evidence of cardiovascular disease. An MRI would be important in identifying an etiology in a patient with a seizure. The patient could have small lesions not fully visible on the CT scan.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 50

Question/Fact:

A 30-year-old woman with a past medical history of severe asthma since childhood presents to the emergency department complaining of dysuria. She was started on prednisone four months ago for her asthma and has been taking ibuprofen for lower back pain for four months. On physical examination, her blood pressure is 140/80 mm Hg, and the rest of her physical examination is normal, except for 3+ pitting edema bilaterally. Urinalysis shows: protein 4+, erythrocytes 2-3/hpf, occasional fat bodies, white cells 10-20/hpf. Serum albumin 2.4 g/dL; cholesterol 440 mg/dL; C3 normal; 24-hour urine protein 6 g/d; sodium 149 mEq/dL, potassium 4.1 mEq/L, bicarbonate 24 mEq/L, BUN 26 mg/dL, creatinine 1.4 mg/dL, glucose 90 mg/dL. She is sent for a renal biopsy, which, under electron microscopy, shows effacement of the epithelial foot processes. What is the most effective treatment for her renal disease?

(A) Stop the NSAIDs and observe
(B) Cyclophosphamide
(C) Cyclosporine
(D) Captopril
(E) Interferon

Answer:

(A) Stop the NSAIDs and observe

Explanation:

This patient has nephrotic syndrome. This diagnosis is based on the urine protein being greater than 3 grams per day, hypoalbuminemia, hyperlipidemia, and edema. The histopathologic pattern is consistent with minimal change disease. This could be caused by NSAID use, as in this case, or from lymphoma.

In adults, "refractory" minimal change disease is sometimes due to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which was missed by sampling error on the first biopsy; thus, many nephrologists might elect to rebiopsy these cases. Although the initial therapy of minimal change disease might consist of steroids, this patient has already been on prednisone for four months, and logic dictates that she has failed this therapy. However, the dose of steroids for asthma is unlikely to be at a high enough or sustained enough dose to see an improvement.

If the patient is adequately treated with steroids and the diagnosis is certain, cytotoxic agents, such as chlorambucil or cyclophosphamide, might be considered because they can give remission of the nephrotic syndrome. This case is unique, however, because NSAIDS, as a class, can cause an allergic interstitial nephritis with a nephrotic syndrome. Therefore, although light microscopy results are not given, assuming there was some interstitial infiltrate, the most reasonable response would be to stop the NSAID and observe. Cytotoxic agents would not be used unless there was no improvement after stopping the NSAIDs and steroids at a high dose failed.

Low-dose cyclosporine might be effective in reducing proteinuria, but the response is not sustained, and there is the risk of long-term nephrotoxicity. ACE inhibitors, although they are a nonspecific method of reducing proteinuria, are often used in conjunction with other therapies. One rationale is that angiotensin has been implicated in scar formation; thus, blocking its production would stop renal scarring and long-term renal impairment.

Patients with cryoglobulinemia and a membranoproliferative pattern of glomerulonephritis may have hepatitis B- or C-associated renal disease. These cases have hypocomplementemia as a characteristic finding. Hepatitis-related cryoglobulinemia is treated with interferon, which may reduce proteinuria and improve the glomerular filtration rate. This patient has normal complement levels, making this unlikely.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 51

Question/Fact:

A 77-year-old man comes to your office for a PPD reading. The patient recalls being told he was PPD-negative thirty years ago. The patient has a history of hypertension, ischemic bowel disease, and gastric cancer, and his medications are prednisone 10 mg daily, multivitamins, and losartan. The patient denies exposure to anyone with active tuberculosis and has lived in Queens, New York, his whole life. He is a retired stockbroker and now works in a homeless shelter. He denies drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco but admits to occasional prostitute relations. You measure an area of erythema of 18 mm and an area of induration of 11 mm. His chest x-ray is normal. What would your next course of action be?

(A) Nothing further is necessary
(B) Isoniazid for six months
(C) Isoniazid for nine months
(D) Repeat the PPD in one year
(E) Check three sputum acid-fast stains

Answer:

(C) Isoniazid for nine months

Explanation:

This patient has a positive PPD skin test because his level of induration is >5 mm and he uses steroids. Five millimeters is the cutoff for a positive test in HIV-positive patients, those who use steroids, close contacts, organ transplant recipients, and in those who have abnormal chest x-rays consistent with previous tuberculosis. Even though he is older than 35 years, he should receive nine months of isoniazid anyway. The age cutoff of 35 years as a criterion for whether or not to treat latent tuberculosis was eliminated several years ago. He is a good example of exactly who should undergo screening for tuberculosis with a PPD test. He is immunocompromised because of the steroid use, as well as the previous gastrectomy. In addition, he has potentially been exposed because he works in a homeless shelter. The ideal length of therapy was raised to nine months from six months several years ago. All of these recommendations are regardless of whether or not the patient has had a previous vaccination with BCG.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 52

Question/Fact:

A 52-year-old woman is admitted to the hospital with fever up to 102 F, shortness of breath, and a cough with production of yellowish sputum for the past three days. She has a history of severe arthritis for the past twenty years. Over the past two years, she has lost about thirty pounds. She has a history of frequent admissions to the hospital with recurrent pneumonias and skin abscesses. Her medications include celecoxib, omeprazole, and methotrexate. Physical examination reveals a pale, thin, ill-looking woman. Her temperature is 101.6 F, blood pressure is 110/68 mm Hg, and respiratory rate is 24/min. Submandibular and cervical lymph nodes are two centimeters is size and are mobile, soft, and painless on palpation. The wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, metacarpophalangeal joints, and proximal interphalangeal joints are severely deformed bilaterally and have restriction in the range of motion. Palpation of elbows and Achilles tendons reveals small, subcutaneous nodules. There are multiple ulcerations, ecchymoses, and skin hyperpigmentation of both lower extremities. Lung auscultation reveals rales and dullness on percussion over the right lung base. The chest x-ray reveals right lower lobe pneumonia. The spleen is palpable, and the liver has a span of 15 cm. Her white cell count is 2,500/mm3 with a hemoglobin of 6.8 mg/dL, a hematocrit of 20.6%, and platelets of 80,000/mm3. Which test would be most helpful to determine the right initial mode of treatment?

(A) Bone-marrow biopsy
(B) Peripheral smear examination
(C) Lymph node needle biopsy
(D) Synovial fluid analysis
(E) Skin biopsy

Answer:

(A) Bone-marrow biopsy

Explanation:

This patient presents with Felty's syndrome, which consists of a triad of chronic, seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, splenomegaly, and neutropenia. Two-thirds of affected patients are women with severe extraarticular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. Felty's syndrome is also accompanied by lymphadenopathy, hepatomegaly, fever, weight loss, anemia, and thrombocytopenia. Hyperpigmentation and leg ulcers may also occur. The syndrome typically appears late in the course of destructive arthritis. Recurrent infections with gram-positive organisms constitute the most severe clinical problems. Hypersplenism and immune-mediated destruction of white blood cells are believed to cause the neutropenia. The bone marrow is usually hyperplastic. The treatment is aimed at controlling the activity of rheumatoid arthritis with disease-modifying drugs and to use G-CSF in cases of frequent infections from neutropenia. Splenectomy is reserved for refractory cases.

Large lymphocyte syndrome is also associated with neutropenia and may mimic Felty's syndrome in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It is probably a premalignant disorder of T lymphocytes and is characterized by clonal expansion of large cells that have cytotoxic and natural-killer activity. Examination of peripheral smear is a good idea, but the bone-marrow biopsy is always the most accurate way of assessing a pancytopenia. This is the only truly exact way to exclude an infiltrative disease of the marrow and to determine whether this is a production or peripheral destruction problem or splenic sequestration. If there are concerns about lymphoma, an excisional biopsy should be performed, not a needle biopsy. Even if there is a lymphoma, the bone-marrow biopsy will tell you whether the patient can be treated with local radiation or whether systemic chemotherapy for stage IV disease is needed.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 53

Question/Fact:

A 58-year-old man with no previous past medical history presents to the emergency department complaining of dizziness for one week accompanied by headache, nausea, generalized weakness, decreased appetite, and weight loss. He is a 30-pack-year smoker and denies cough, shortness of breath, or hemoptysis. The patient appears cachectic on physical examination and is in no acute distress. Vital signs are normal. Physical examination is remarkable for diminished breath sounds in all lung fields and symmetrically enlarged breasts. The neurologic examination is normal.

Chest x-ray shows hyperinflated lungs with a peripheral lesion in the right upper lobe and a central left-upper-lobe lesion. The head CT scan reveals a left posterior fossa lesion with edema and mass effect. Chest CT shows a 5-cm mass in the periphery of the right upper lobe and a 3-cm mass within 2 cm of the carina in the left middle lobe. Mediastinoscopy and biopsy are performed, and the biopsy shows large-cell cancer.

How would you best manage this patient at the present time?

(A) Preoperative pulmonary function testing (PFT)
(B) Radiation therapy to the brain and dexamethasone
(C) Radiation therapy to lung lesions
(D) Combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Answer:

(B) Radiation therapy to the brain and dexamethasone

Explanation:

The patient is presenting with large-cell cancer, which usually presents as a peripheral lesion that tends to metastasize to the central nervous system (CNS) and mediastinum. It is often associated with gynecomastia.

Preoperative pulmonary function tests (PFTs) would not be indicated because he has stage IV lung cancer and is therefore not a surgical candidate. He has contralateral lesions and metastatic disease to the brain. Stages I, II, and even III disease can be treated with surgery as long as the involved lymph nodes are on the ipsilateral side. This patient has bilateral lung lesions. Radiation to lung lesions is indicated for patients whose tumor is causing symptoms, such as bronchial obstruction with pneumonitis, upper airway obstruction, or superior vena cava syndrome. Combination therapy with chemotherapy and radiation therapy shows an objective tumor response in 30 to 40% of patients with limited small-cell cancer or unresectable stage III non-small-cell cancer. Local radiation therapy is also indicated for bone and CNS metastases as palliation only.

Radiation to the CNS metastases is the best first step in therapy, given this patient's CNS symptoms, such as headache, nausea, and dizziness. Address the chief complaint in a question first.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 54

Question/Fact:

A 56-year-old woman with a history of asthma since childhood presents to her physician's office because of a cough of 3 to 4 weeks' duration. The patient states that the cough produces yellowish sputum and is associated with fever and some difficulty breathing. She recently completed a course of oral antibiotics without improvement. The patient also reports generalized weakness, fatigue, anorexia, and night sweats over the same time period. Her HIV test was negative 2 years ago.. The patient is afebrile with mild respiratory distress. There is scattered wheezing upon auscultation of the lungs. Laboratory studies show: WBC 6,000/mm3, differential: neutrophils 47%, lymphocytes 18%, eosinophils 32%; and hematocrit 39%. Chest x-ray shows bilateral peripheral infiltrates and a small right pleural effusion. What is your plan for this patient?

(A) Sputum culture
(B) Bronchoscopy for lavage and transbronchial biopsy
(C) Thoracentesis
(D) High-resolution chest CT scan with contrast
(E) Open lung biopsy

Answer:

(B) Bronchoscopy for lavage and transbronchial biopsy

Explanation:

The presentation describes a case of chronic eosinophilic pneumonia. The initial differential diagnosis could include acute or chronic eosinophilic pneumonia, Loeffler's syndrome, fungal pneumonia, parasitic infections (such as strongyloides), Churg-Strauss syndrome, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Chronic eosinophilic pneumonia is seen primarily in women who are in their fifties. The symptoms of cough, fever, and dyspnea are often insidious. A history of asthma is seen in almost half of all cases. The chest x-ray classically reveals peripheral infiltrates, and blood eosinophilia is mild to moderate. The clinical presentation and chest x-ray are not sufficiently specific to confirm the diagnosis. Open lung biopsy is the gold standard; however, it is extremely invasive and potentially complicated. A CT scan would help identify the nature of the infiltrates but will not give a definitive diagnosis. Bronchoscopy with bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL) and biopsy is minimally invasive and has a high diagnostic yield. BAL will generally reveal a high percentage of eosinophils and can rule out other possible infectious agents.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 55

Question/Fact:

A 76-year-old man returns to your clinic for a follow-up appointment after having an echocardiogram and a Holter monitor done. Both test results are normal. The patient has been having sensations of a rapid heartbeat for several years. He describes these episodes as "a strange pounding in my heart" occurring suddenly and ending spontaneously. He has never had syncope, and these episodes are not associated with dyspnea or chest pain.

On physical examination, his pulse is 64/min and regular, and blood pressure is 142/78 mm Hg. The rest of his examination is within normal limits. A repeat EKG shows a normal sinus rhythm, without change from earlier EKGs. An event monitor is put in place. Three months later, you receive a report from the cardiologist that reveals paroxysms of atrial fibrillation with a rapid ventricular response that ends spontaneously.

What is the most appropriate management for this patient's paroxysmal atrial fibrillation at this time?

(A) Begin aspirin 325 mg once a day
(B) Elective cardioversion
(C) Transesophageal echocardiogram
(D) Begin warfarin and adjust the dose based on INR
(E) Send the patient for electrophysiologic testing (EPS)

Answer:

(D) Begin warfarin and adjust the dose based on INR

Explanation:

This patient has paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. His risk of embolism is approximately 5% per year without therapy. Warfarin is the appropriate therapy for him. Aspirin is less effective than warfarin but can be given if the patient has contraindications to warfarin. Elective cardioversion is unnecessary because the patient does not have sustained atrial fibrillation. A transesophageal echocardiogram is also not needed because the patient will start warfarin regardless of the findings.. Electrophysiologic testing (EPS) does not need to be performed because the diagnosis of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is already made and the therapy is anticoagulation on a long-term basis. The INR should be maintained between 2 and 3.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 56

Question/Fact:

A 35-year-old healthy white woman presents to your office complaining of three weeks of bleeding gums after she brushes her teeth. She otherwise feels well and has no other complaints. Her dentist says that she has healthy teeth and gums. She has no significant past medical history and does not take any medications. She is a nonsmoker and does not drink alcohol. She is married and has two healthy young children.

Physical examination: blood pressure 132/72 mm Hg; heart rate 60/min; respiratory rate 12/min; temperature 98.5 F
HEENT: good dentition; no gingival hypertrophy or discoloration; no gingival tenderness upon palpation; no oral lesions
Heart: S1, S2, no murmurs
Extremities: no edema
White blood cell count 5,600/mm3; hematocrit 41%; platelets 9,000/mm3

Which of the following is the most specific finding for this patient's condition?

(A) An enlarged spleen
(B) A positive monospot test
(C) A diminished number of megakaryocytes
(D) Antiplatelet antibodies
(E) Hemolysis on peripheral smear
(F) Increased megakaryocytes

Answer:

(F) Increased megakaryocytes

Explanation:

This is most likely a case of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). ITP occurs in women three times as frequently as in men and most commonly presents between the ages of 20 to 50. These patients will usually present with signs of superficial bleeding, such as that of the mucosa, epistaxis, skin, gingival, and vagina. In children, ITP is usually precipitated by a viral illness, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and, therefore, a positive Monospot test can be found.

In adults, there is rarely an association with a specific virus. ITP is an autoimmune disease in which immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody is produced against glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antigens on the platelet surface. The platelets are not lysed. Instead, macrophages will bring the platelets to the spleen where the destruction will take place. This is why splenectomy is the definitive treatment, even if there is no splenomegaly on examination. Despite the destruction taking place in the spleen, the spleen does not become enlarged.

Bone marrow examination should reveal an increased number of megakaryocytes, with the other cell lines being normal because there is no production problem in ITP. There is no hemolysis in ITP: Hemolysis is found in hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), not ITP.

ITP is diagnosed on the basis of a generally healthy person who develops an isolated thrombocytopenia with no identifiable cause, such as marrow infiltration or as a drug effect in a person with a normal-sized spleen. Bone marrow biopsy and an antinuclear antibody test are routinely done. Antiplatelet-antibody testing is not useful to confirm the diagnosis. Although antiplatelet antibodies are often present, their specificity is poor. Many normal subjects harbor antiplatelet antibodies without a low platelet count. You can also have ITP without antiplatelet antibodies present..

Topic:

Hemotology-Oncology

Record # 57

Question/Fact:

A 45-year-old woman with a history of hypertension for the past 10 years presents to your office complaining of intermittent headaches, increased thirst, and muscle weakness over the past two months. She also noticed that she has been urinating more often than usual. She denies any recent infections. On physical examination, the blood pressure is 160/100 mm Hg, and heart rate is 68/min. The rest of the examination is unremarkable. Laboratory studies show: sodium 154 mEq/L, potassium 2.9 mEq/L, BUN 21 mg/dL, and creatinine 0.9 mg/dL. Plasma renin activity is 0.2 μg/L (normal 0.9-3.3 μg/L); 24-hour urine aldosterone is 50 μg/d on a high salt diet (normal 1.5-12.5 μg/24 h); 18-hydroxycorticosterone 10 is μg/dL (normal <85 μg/dL); aldosterone at 8 AM supine is 35 μg/dL (normal 3-10 μg/dL); and aldosterone at 12 noon upright is 36 μg/dL (normal 5-30 μg/dL). What is the most likely etiology?

(A) Bilateral adrenal hyperplasia
(B) Addison's disease
(C) Conn's syndrome
(D) Liddle's syndrome
(E) 17-alpha-hydroxylase deficiency

Answer:

(C) Conn's syndrome

Explanation:

In a patient with a low plasma renin activity (<5 μg/dL) and with a 24-hour urine aldosterone over 20 μg/d, the most likely diagnosis is hyperaldosteronism. Patients with 17-alpha-hydroxylase deficiency can have either primary amenorrhea or ambiguous genitalia. The patient would have a low 24-hour urinary aldosterone level. A patient with an elevated 18-hydroxycorticosterone level (>85 μg/dL) is likely to have an adrenal neoplasm. When it is below 85 μg/dL, it is nondiagnostic. The 8 A.M. and noontime measurements in this patient help distinguish bilateral adrenal hyperplasia from Conn's syndrome, or unilateral adrenocortical adenoma. Diurnal changes in aldosterone levels occur with bilateral hyperplasia but do not occur with Conn's syndrome. Cancers are not under the normal physiological controls. When the supine 8 AM aldosterone level is greater than 20 μg/dL and does not rise 4 hours later when upright, the patient most likely has Conn's syndrome. In a patient with an aldosterone level less than 20 μ/dL while supine at 8 AM and which rises when upright, the diagnosis is most likely bilateral adrenal hyperplasia. Liddle's syndrome is similar in presentation to hyperaldosteronism, resulting in hypertension and hypokalemia. It results in excessive sodium absorption in the renal tubule. In this case, the renin level is low because of suppression from the increased sodium levels.

Topic:

Endocrinology

Record # 58

Question/Fact:

A 20-year-old male college student is found passed out in the stairwell of his dormitory, unresponsive to pain or verbal stimuli. No further history is obtainable from the patient, and no other dormitory residents are able to give any additional history. The initial vital signs at the site are: blood pressure 110/58 mm Hg, pulse 78/min, and respirations 16/min. The ambulance technician gives 2 mg of naloxone, with very little response. The patient is then transported to the nearby emergency room. The patient appears to be a disheveled male with alcohol on his breath. The patient is responsive and cooperative to commands; however, he has difficulty with answering questions. The remainder of the examination is unremarkable. Initial laboratory studies reveal:

Sodium 132 mEq/L; potassium 5.4 mEq/L; bicarbonate 20 mEq/L; chloride 96 mEq/L; BUN 34 mg/dL; creatinine 2.9 mg/dL; glucose 108 mg/dL; alcohol level 9 mg/dL (low).

Urine dipstick is negative for leukocytes, nitrites, and blood.

Which of the following tests would you order next to help diagnose the cause of this patient's acute renal failure?

(A) Urine specific gravity
(B) Urine fractional excretion of sodium
(C) CT scan of abdomen and pelvis
(D) Serum osmolality
(E) Urine myoglobin

Answer:

(D) Serum osmolality

Explanation:

This patient is most likely intoxicated with an alcohol that is not predominantly ethanol. The clue to this diagnosis is a person who appears drunk with alcohol on his breath but in whom the ethanol level is low. Another clue to the presence of a toxic alcohol is a metabolic acidosis with an elevated anion gap. This patient has an anion gap of 16, which is elevated, and a calculated serum osmolality of 282.



Using the serum osmolality, one can calculate the serum osmolar gap. If the measured serum osmolality were significantly higher than what you calculate with the formula described above, it would be highly suggestive of an additional osmolar particle, such as methanol or ethylene glycol. The fact that there is renal failure is by far more consistent with ethylene glycol poisoning.

Another clue to this diagnosis (not present in this case) would be the presence of crystals in the urine or a low calcium level. The urine dipstick in patients with rhabdomyolysis should be positive for blood, but they should also have a microscopic examination that doesn't show red cells. There is no point in getting a urine myoglobin level in a patient whose dipstick is negative for blood. The urine fractional excretion of sodium (FeNa) is used to help distinguish between prerenal azotemia from decreased renal perfusion, compared with azotemia from a problem intrinsic to the kidney itself.. A FeNa <1% is consistent with prerenal azotemia, and a FeNa >1% is from problems intrinsic to the kidney itself. The urine specific gravity can give an approximation of the urine osmolality. Prerenal has a high urine specific gravity. What we need, however, is a serum osmolality. A CT scan or ultrasound of the kidney is useful to help diagnose an obstruction of the urinary system.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 59

Question/Fact:

A 78-year-old man reports a 2-month history of gradually decreasing exercise tolerance with shortness of breath on exertion. He has a long history of stable angina and hypercholesterolemia. He is currently taking aspirin, metoprolol, furosemide, and atorvastatin. On physical examination, his pulse is 72/min, and his blood pressure is 110/70 mm Hg. Jugular venous pressure is 6 cm H2O. Carotid upstrokes are delayed, left ventricular impulse is displaced laterally, and a systolic thrill is present at the base of the heart. There is a normal S1, a paradoxical split of S2, an S4 gallop, and a grade IV/VI, low-pitched, crescendo-decrescendo midsystolic murmur at the base of the heart. The murmur is transmitted upward along the carotid arteries. Which of the following would you do next?

(A) Maximize the beta-blocker dosage
(B) Catheterization of the left side of the heart
(C) Begin captopril
(D) Percutaneous balloon aortic valvuloplasty
(E) Start digoxin

Answer:

(B) Catheterization of the left side of the heart

Explanation:

This patient has a midsystolic crescendo-decrescendo murmur radiating to the carotid arteries -- all signs that are consistent with aortic stenosis (AS). When angina pectoris, syncope, or left ventricular (LV) decompensation develops in adults with severe aortic stenosis, the outlook -- despite medical treatment -- is very poor and can only be improved significantly by aortic valve replacement. This is usually when the aortic orifice surface area is <0.7 cm2/m2 of body surface area. In this patient, the exact valve surface area is not that important because of his severe symptoms. The operative risk is considerably lower than the risk of nonoperative treatment. Symptomatic improvement in survivors of operation can be remarkable. Regression of LV hypertrophy may occur after relief of the obstruction.

Catheterization of the left side of the heart and coronary arteriography should generally be carried out in patients older than the age of 45 who are suspected of having severe AS and are being considered for operative treatment. The catheterization allows for the most accurate assessment of the transvalvular gradient, as well as to see who will need a coronary bypass at the same time as the valve replacement. In younger patients in whom coronary bypass is not a consideration, echocardiography is sufficient.

Percutaneous balloon aortic valvuloplasty is preferable to operation in children and young adults with congenital, noncalcified AS. It is not commonly used in elderly patients with severe calcific AS because of a high rate of restenosis. Nitrates and other vasodilators, such as ACE inhibitors, should be avoided in patients with severe AS. These agents reduce LV filling pressure, resulting in hemodynamic collapse. Digoxin will not help. Occasionally, patients with AS who develop angina may require treatment with nitrates. Such therapy should be initiated under strict supervision by a physician at the bedside. Volume expansion with saline may be necessary to avoid excessive preload reduction. Increasing the dose of the beta-blockers will not help because it will do nothing to relieve the mechanical obstruction of the flow of blood out of the left ventricle.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 60

Question/Fact:

A 20-year-old Asian man comes to your clinic complaining of dark-colored urine. He says that "it looks like Kool-Aid" and that it happened only this morning. He says that he has "felt sick for a few days" and has had "the flu" recently. He also noticed multiple "pimples" along his legs and has had some knee and leg pain. He denies medication use and has a history of sickle-cell trait. He denies abdominal pain, nausea, flank pain, or dysuria.

On physical examination, his temperature is 98.6 F, pulse is 70/minute, and blood pressure is 110/70 mm Hg. Examination of the pharynx reveals erythema but no exudates. His tonsils appear normal. The heart and lung examination are also normal, and you can't feel liver or spleen enlargement. Along the anterior aspects of his legs, you feel multiple, raised, erythematous papules discretely arranged from the knee to the ankle.

Urinalysis shows: a red color; specific gravity 1.015; pH 6.90; no white cells; red cells: 50-100/hpf; red cell casts 5-10/hpf. There is no urobilinogen, glucose, crystals, or nitrites. There is 1+ protein.

What is the most accurate diagnostic test?

(A) Serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) level
(B) Renal biopsy
(C) Serum C3 level
(D) 24-hour urine
(E) Electron microscopy of a skin biopsy
(F) Serum protein electrophoresis

Answer:

(B) Renal biopsy

Explanation:

This patient has immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy. It is caused by IgA deposition in the glomerulus, although the cause of the deposition is unknown. IgA deposits can be associated with other systemic diseases, such as chronic liver disease, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjögren's syndrome, and other autoimmune phenomena. However, in these cases, it usually just causes deposits of IgA and not clinical renal failure.

The usual presenting complaint is gross hematuria that is frequently associated with a concomitant upper-respiratory infection or gastrointestinal complaints. The hematuria usually occurs 1 to 2 days after the onset of the respiratory infection and has been termed "synpharyngitic," meaning that there is no latent period when the respiratory infection resolves and the hematuria begins. Hypertension may occur at presentation but is uncommon (20-30%). IgA nephropathy may be associated with Henoch-Schönlein purpura, which is a systemic vasculitis in which IgA is deposited in blood vessels. Sometimes, there is IgG deposition. It is felt that Henoch-Schönlein purpura and IgA nephropathy are clinical entities of the same disease process. This patient does not have abdominal or joint pain.

The urinalysis will frequently show red blood cells (RBCs) and RBC casts, which are indicative of glomerular disease. Moderate proteinuria may also be present in the urinary sediment. This is the main way to distinguish this entity from sickle-cell involvement of the kidney. The diagnostic finding in IgA nephropathy is mesangial deposition of IgA on immunofluorescent microscopy. Serum IgA levels are elevated in 50% of patients, so a normal value cannot rule out the disease and is therefore not the most accurate test. Serum complement levels are frequently normal, but this is not specific. IgG is seen in 50% of patients but also on biopsy¾again, immunofluorescent staining, not light microscopy, is needed. Electron microscopy can detect dense mesangial deposits but not the IgA, which is the hallmark of the pathogenesis of the disease. The nephron under light microscopy will show mesangial expansion and, in severe cases, crescents and areas of glomerulosclerosis, but it will also not detect IgA. Immunofluorescence is needed to detect IgA.

Unfortunately, there are no long-lasting therapies for IgA nephropathy. Fortunately, the course of IgA nephropathy is usually quite benign and can exist for decades with no apparent ill effect on the patient. In other cases, it can cause nephrosis or rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis. The problem with therapy is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine who will progress to a more serious disease.

If nephrotic syndrome is present, prednisone 60 mg daily for 4 to 6 weeks may cause a remission. ACE inhibitors may be useful to prevent and treat proteinuria. Fish oil (12 g/d) can benefit progressive disease and heavy proteinuria. Up to 20 to 50% of patients will develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD) within 20 years of the disease. Renal transplantation can be considered in ESRD; however, 30% of patients will develop IgA deposits in the transplanted kidney 5 to 10 years after the transplantation. This rarely progresses toward ESRD.

Topic:

Nephrology

Record # 61

Question/Fact:

A 44-year-old man presents to the emergency department with right-sided flank pain and bloody urine for the past four days. The patient denies fever or chills but has had episodes of severe flank pain. He has been known to be HIV positive for the last four years. He has been compliant with his medications, which include Crixivan (indinavir), zidovudine (AZT), and Epivir (lamivudine). The patient denies any previous episodes of the above noted symptoms. He has a temperature of 99.1 F. The urinalysis shows gross hematuria with no white cells. An ultrasound shows an eight-millimeter stone in the renal pelvis with no hydronephrosis. What is the most appropriate long-term management of this patient?

(A) Increase hydration
(B) Hydrochlorothiazide
(C) Percutaneous removal of the stone
(D) Stop the indinavir

Answer:

(D) Stop the indinavir

Explanation:

Indinavir is associated with the development of kidney stones in 4% of patients. Hydration alone will not prevent their formation. Hydrochlorothiazide is very useful for familial hypercalciuria. It works by inhibiting calcium excretion in the urine. Percutaneous removal of stones is performed if the stones are >2 cm in diameter when lithotripsy is contraindicated.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 62

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old man is brought to the emergency department after he was found in the park walking aimlessly and mumbling to himself. The patient appears to be confused and disoriented. His vitals are normal. On neurological examination, the patient's mental status varies from lethargy to periods of extreme agitation marked by crying and shouting out that he sees snakes hanging from the ceiling. He is unable to carry on a conversation but follows simple commands. This is the first emergency department visit for this problem. His speech is normal in fluency. The motor, sensory, and deep-tendon reflex examinations are normal. He has a fine tremor of both hands but no cogwheeling rigidity. Initial laboratory results reveal alcohol in the blood. Which of the following is most likely to be true for this patient?

(A) Delusions will improve after treatment with Risperdal
(B) Normal EEG
(C) Incomplete resolution of cognitive defects, despite appropriate treatment
(D) Patient may have underlying dementia secondary to alcohol withdrawal
(E) Sleep-wake cycle can be improved by limiting interaction with the patient to regular awake times as much as possible during the hospitalization

Answer:

(E) Sleep-wake cycle can be improved by limiting interaction with the patient to regular awake times as much as possible during the hospitalization

Explanation:

This patient presents with acute intoxication and delirium. With stable vital signs, the patient's cognitive impairment is unlikely to be due to withdrawal from alcohol. In addition, signs of withdrawal do not occur while the patient still has alcohol in the blood, as in the case of this patient. The patient may have an underlying dementia, but the dementia is not because of alcohol withdrawal. The sleep-wake cycle can be improved with constant interaction with the patient and by providing appropriate time-related stimuli. In delirium, the EEG shows diffuse slow-wave activity, whereas a patient with functional psychosis has a normal EEG. Excessive, fast, beta activity may be seen in patients delirious from drug intoxication. Metabolic encephalopathies causing delirium, such as hepatic encephalopathy, may produce characteristic triphasic waveforms on EEG. Even if it were abnormal, diffuse slowing on an EEG is often too nonspecific to be useful. Patients with psychosis have systematized delusions and no fluctuation or nocturnal worsening of the symptoms, as seen in delirium.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 63

Question/Fact:

A 28-year-old Irish woman presents with a complaint of a pruritic rash on her elbows and knees for the last 2 weeks.. She has a long history of abdominal bloating and occasional diarrhea. There has been no prior hospitalizations or surgeries. She has been taking glyburide for noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. She denies smoking, drinking alcohol, and doesn't take any medications. On physical examination, the patient presents as a thin female with a papulovesicular rash on the elbows and knees. Vital signs are: temperature 98.5 F, pulse 95/min, and blood pressure 120/80 mm Hg. Abdominal examination reveals some distention but no masses. The skin biopsy demonstrates neutrophils at the dermal papillary tips by light microscopy. What would be the best treatment for this patient?

(A) Acyclovir
(B) Broad-spectrum antibiotics for 1 to 2 weeks
(C) Lactase enzyme replacement
(D) Dapsone and a gluten-free diet
(E) Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole

Answer:

(D) Dapsone and a gluten-free diet

Explanation:

This patient has dermatitis herpetiformis, an uncommon disease manifested by pruritic papules and vesicles over the extensor surfaces of the extremities and over the trunk, scalp, and neck. The diagnosis is made by light microscopy, which demonstrates neutrophils at the dermal papillary tips. Circulating anti-endomysium antibodies can be detected in all cases. Being of Irish descent and having diabetes is associated with this disease. Of patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, over 85% have evidence of celiac disease on intestinal mucosal biopsy. Removal of all gluten from the diet is essential to therapy, and strict, long-term avoidance of dietary gluten has been shown to decrease the dose of dapsone (usually 100-200 mg/d) required to control the disease.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 64

Question/Fact:

A 52-year-old man presents to the primary care clinic with thinning of his face and wasting of his arms and legs. The patient has a past medical history of HIV infection. He is on gemfibrozil, ritonavir, lamivudine, and stavudine. He has been compliant with his medications and does not take over-the-counter medications. He is afebrile and in no acute distress. There has been a 6-lb weight loss since the last visit six months ago. There is a soft, nontender, fatty mass noted in the dorsocervical region. The neck is supple and nontender. There is truncal obesity and thinning of the face, arms, and legs. His glucose level is 184 mg/dL, his cholesterol is 260 mg/dL, triglycerides are 340 mg/dL, and his CD4 count is 398/μL with an undetectable viral load. What is the next best step in diagnosing this patient's clinical findings?

(A) 24-hour urinary cortisol level
(B) Dexamethasone suppression test
(C) Excisional biopsy
(D) No further work-up is needed

Answer:

(D) No further work-up is needed

Explanation:

This patient presents with a buffalo hump on his upper back and hypertrophy of the cervicodorsal pad. This is a manifestation of fat redistribution from the cheeks, temples, and extremities to the neck, abdomen, and breasts. This fat redistribution syndrome is caused by protease inhibitors and is associated with insulin resistance and thus the elevated serum glucose. Ritonavir and all protease inhibitors can increase the serum level of statins, resulting in severe myalgias and rhabdomyolysis. This is why the patient is on gemfibrozil to control his lipid abnormalities. Gemfibrozil does not interact with protease inhibitors. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels are common side effects in patients on protease-inhibitor therapy. Although the cause of the metabolic abnormalities and the relation to HIV therapies is not known, this patient requires no further evaluation. The mechanism of protease-inhibitor lipodystrophy is not known. The usual tests for Cushing's syndrome, such as the 24-hour cortisol level and the dexamethasone suppression test, will be normal.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

Record # 65

Question/Fact:

A 30-year-old man is brought to the emergency department by his girlfriend after he loses consciousness. He has had similar episodes in the past, but this is the first one his girlfriend has seen. During these episodes, he has been diaphoretic and pale. His girlfriend says that he complained of graying of his vision, lightheadedness, and a sensation of feeling warm. He also had repetitive jerks of his body. This lasted for 45 seconds, and then he became oriented to his surroundings in less than a minute. The patient is thin and underweight and has dry skin, teeth erosions, and brittle nails. He complains of some muscle pain. His prolactin level is normal. What is the most likely diagnosis?

(A) Generalized seizure
(B) Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
(C) Pseudoseizure
(D) Syncope
(E) Hypothyroidism

Answer:

(D) Syncope

Explanation:

This is a young man with what may be an eating disorder and episodes of syncope. This is not likely to be a seizure because seizures can be characterized by an aura, automatisms, tonic-clonic movements, tongue biting, and incontinence. Patients with seizures often have a period after the seizure marked by amnesia, aphasia, Todd's paralysis, muscle pain, and disorientation. This postictal state usually lasts from several minutes to several hours. This patient became normal in a matter of seconds after the event. Prolactin levels measured within 20 minutes of the event may be elevated after a genuine seizure. The pattern of activity can also be helpful to distinguish seizures from pseudoseizures. Pseudoseizures are characterized by pelvic thrusting, nonconvulsive limb movements, voluntary eye closure, and a normal prolactin level. There is often a history of prior sexual abuse. It is unlikely that he had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) because he is very young, and there is no reason to suspect a markedly increased risk of vascular disease. He also has no focal neurological abnormalities. Hypothyroidism can be excluded with laboratory tests. It is also very unlikely that hypothyroidism would cause a seizure. Syncope is characterized by pallor, nausea, diaphoresis, and specific, provoking events.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 66

Question/Fact:

A 65-year-old man presents to the hospital with complaints of chest pain of 8 hours' duration. The EKG reveals anterior wall ST elevation. The patient receives aspirin, oxygen, tissue-plasminogen activator, metoprolol, and intravenous nitroglycerin. His symptoms resolve, and serum chemistries reveal a peak CPK of 1,200 U/L and a CKMB of 80 U/L. The patient is transferred to the CCU. His subsequent hospital course is uneventful until Day 3, when the patient develops severe dyspnea. The blood pressure is 120/70 mm Hg, and the heart rate is 120/min. Physical examination reveals a new, loud, holosystolic murmur radiating to the axilla and bilateral rales. What would be the most appropriate initial intervention at this point?

(A) Heparin alone
(B) Heparin and furosemide
(C) Heparin and digoxin
(D) Sodium nitroprusside
(E) Surgery

Answer:

(D) Sodium nitroprusside

Explanation:

The patient presents with a ruptured mitral valve because of his recent myocardial infarction. The new systolic murmur, dyspnea, and rales are an indication of the rupture of the valve. It is also possible that he has a ventricular septal rupture (VSD). Both can give a systolic murmur. The mitral murmur is best heard at the apex, and a VSD is best heard at the lower-left sternal border. Therapy for both would be acute afterload reduction followed by surgical repair. Because he is so unstable, the ideal agent would be intravenous and readily titratable. Nitroprusside has an extremely short half-life and can easily be stopped or reduced if the blood pressure drops too far.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 67

Question/Fact:

A 43-year-old man comes to the office seeking medical advice. His father was diagnosed with gout at the age of 45 years and now needs hemodialysis. His older brother is 50 years old and was diagnosed with gouty arthritis last year. The patient's past medical history is significant for hypertension, which is managed with atenolol. On physical examination, the patient is slightly obese. There are no obvious joint deformities. His range of motion is not restricted. The only significant finding on physical examination is some nodularity on palpation of the Achilles tendon on the left. His serum uric acid is 18 mg/dL (normal 2.5-7.5 mg/dL), and his urine uric acid is 850 mg/24 h (normal <800 mg/24 h on a regular diet). Treatment with allopurinol is started. In two weeks, the patient comes back complaining of a diffuse erythematous rash and itching. What is your next step?

(A) Stop allopurinol
(B) Stop atenolol
(C) Desensitization to allopurinol
(D) Give colchicine if an attack develops
(E) Repeat the uric acid level in one month

Answer:

(C) Desensitization to allopurinol

Explanation:

This patient presents with asymptomatic hyperuricemia. Asymptomatic hyperuricemia is frequently seen in family members of patients with gout. Only 20% of hyperuricemic individuals will ever develop gout, so it is reasonable to start treatment only when attacks occur. In patients with a strong family history of tophaceous diseases or gout and renal problems, treatment with allopurinol should be started before articular or renal problems develop. In this patient, the treatment was started, but the course was complicated by a mild hypersensitivity reaction. Desensitization to allopurinol is indicated in mild allergic reactions, such as urticaria, but it would be considered dangerous in more severe hypersensitivity reactions, such as anaphylaxis. In this case, continuation of treatment with allopurinol is suggested based on the strong family history of gout with renal failure and painless deposits along the Achilles tendon, which could be the first manifestation of tophaceous disease. An increased urinary uric acid excretion is suggestive of a predisposition toward the development of renal stones.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 68

Question/Fact:

A 65-year-old homeless man with a past medical history significant for alcohol abuse was brought to the emergency department by the local ambulance company after being found outside the local strip mall being loud and reckless. Although he was awake, the patient was unable to give any further history. He is well known to the emergency department for multiple visits for alcohol intoxication. Four hours later, the patient was found to be unarousable even after vigorous noxious stimulation. His temperature is 97.9 F with a blood pressure of 110/65 mm Hg, a heart rate of 88/min, and a respiratory rate of 28/min. His eye examination is normal. He has bilateral rales on lung examination, with a minimally distended, nontender abdomen. His arterial blood gas shows: pH 7.15, pCO2 23 mm Hg, and pO2 88 mm Hg. Laboratory studies reveal: sodium 133 mEq/L, chloride 107 mEq/L, serum bicarbonate 10 mEq/L, BUN 34 mg/dL, creatinine 2.2 mg/dL, and glucose 180 mg/dL. The ethanol level is 46 mg dL, with a serum osmolality of 305 mOsm/kg. Urinalysis shows no protein, ketones, or white cells, but crystals are present. What is the definitive treatment for this patient?

(A) Pyridoxine and thiamine
(B) Fomepizole
(C) Hemodialysis
(D) Ethanol infusion
(E) Gastric lavage

Answer:

(C) Hemodialysis

Explanation:

This patient most likely has ethylene glycol intoxication. He has an elevated anion gap, metabolic acidosis with crystals present in the urine, and renal insufficiency. Hemodialysis should be performed in severe intoxications to remove both the parent compound, as well as the metabolites of ethylene glycol, which are glycolic and oxalic acids. Ethylene glycol intoxication presents with neurologic abnormalities ranging from mild drunkeness to frank coma. If untreated, these changes can progress to pulmonary edema, seizures, and renal failure. Both the acid-base disorder and the clinical symptoms seen in ethylene glycol ingestion are due to the accumulation of the toxic metabolites. Ethylene glycol is metabolized via alcohol dehydrogenase to glycolic and oxalic acids, which are toxic to renal tubules. The key in management in ethylene glycol intoxication is the early recognition. There is no history of visual disturbance, and the examination mentions no retinal findings, which would be consistent with methanol intoxication.

Ethanol is given not as a definitive treatment, but as a temporary measure. Alcohol dehydrogenase has a 10-fold greater affinity for ethanol than other alcohols. Ethanol will prevent the production of the toxic metabolite but will not remove the ethylene glycol from the body. Indications for hemodialysis are a high plasma level of ethylene glycol, the presence of metabolic acidosis, and symptoms of mental status change. Hemodialysis is continued until levels fall below toxic levels. Pyridoxine and thiamine are not the treatment for ethylene glycol intoxication but may serve as adjunctive therapy in any alcoholic patient. Fomepizole works in a fashion similar to ethanol in terms of preventing the production of a toxic metabolite. It does not definitively remove the substance from the body either. Only hemodialysis will do this.

Topic:

Poisoning

Record # 69

Question/Fact:

A 72-year-old woman comes to the emergency department with 40 minutes of severe substernal chest pain. The pain does not change with respirations or bodily position. She has never been in your hospital before. She has a history of hypertension and diabetes for which she is maintained on an ACE inhibitor. Physical examination shows a normal blood pressure. There are no abnormalities found on physical examination. An EKG shows a left bundle branch block. She was given an aspirin to chew on her way into the emergency department. Which of the following will benefit this patient the most?

(A) Metoprolol
(B) Thrombolytics
(C) Nitrates, morphine, and oxygen
(D) Lidocaine
(E) Low molecular weight heparin

Answer:

(B) Thrombolytics

Explanation:

Thrombolytics are indicated when patients present within 12 hours of the onset of chest pain. The other part of the indication is either one millimeter of ST elevation in two electrically contiguous leads or the presence of a left bundle branch block that is either new or not definitely known to be old. This patient has never been in your hospital before, and you have no way of knowing whether the bundle branch block is old. Beta-blockers will lower mortality but not as much as thrombolytics would. Thrombolytics are particularly effective in the first two hours after the onset of pain, and there can be as much as a 50% reduction in mortality. Lidocaine is not indicated for routine use in patients with either chest pain or acute coronary syndromes. Heparin in any preparation gives its greatest mortality benefit when used in cases of unstable angina. Heparin is used in myocardial infarction after thrombolytics. Thrombolytics open up the clot in the vessel, and the heparin keeps it from re-occluding. Nitrates, oxygen, and morphine should all be used but have not been shown to definitely lower mortality.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 70

Question/Fact:

A 67-year-old man presents to the emergency department with dyspnea that has been worsening over the last 2 to 4 days. His chest x-ray shows a large pleural effusion. After admission to the hospital, treatment with diuretics produces only a minimal response in his respiratory status. He undergoes a thoracentesis, which did not improve his symptoms. He quit smoking 3 years ago but had a 120-pack-year smoking history until then. Currently, he has a temperature of 100..3 F and a respiratory rate of 24/min. He has dullness to percussion three-quarters of the way up on one side. Laboratory studies on the pleural fluid show: LDH 1, 505 mg/dL, white cells 500/mm3, red cells 1,030/mm3, and glucose level 76 mg/dL. No bacteria is seen on Gram stain, and the pleural fluid has a pH of 7.5. The cytology is positive for malignant cells. Repeat chest x-ray shows a large pleural effusion on one side. What is the next best step in the management of this patient?

(A) Serial thoracentesis
(B) Video-assisted thoracoscopy
(C) Chemotherapy and radiotherapy
(D) Pleurodesis with doxycycline
(E) Chest tube placement

Answer:

(E) Chest tube placement

Explanation:

This patient most likely has a malignancy that has invaded the pleural space, causing an effusion. Although it is important to treat the underlying malignancy, the acute respiratory problem must be managed first. This patient's effusion had virtually no response to diuretics and a thoracentesis; therefore, he should have a chest tube placed. The chest tube is the best way to remove large volumes of pleural fluid, particularly when there is impairment of respiratory function. Pleurodesis is not possible until the fluid has been removed from the chest. Otherwise, the visceral and parietal pleura are not apposed or close enough to each other, and they will not adhere to each other. Chemotherapy and radiation will not work rapidly enough to decrease the volume of fluid that is accumulating.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 71

Question/Fact:

A 40-year-old obese African American woman is found to have developed a severe, uniform, erythematous, desquamatous rash, fever, increased liver function tests, and eosinophilia. The patient looks toxic. The patient has a past medical history of renal insufficiency secondary to poorly controlled hypertension, migraine headaches, gout, and systemic lupus erythematous. The patient is on a number of medications to treat her various illnesses. Which of the following medications is the most likely cause of these symptoms?

(A) Amlodipine
(B) Prednisone
(C) Sumatriptan
(D) Allopurinol
(E) Colchicine

Answer:

(D) Allopurinol

Explanation:

Allopurinol is a xanthine-oxidase inhibitor and is the drug of choice to prevent attacks of gout if the patient has a history of renal stones or renal insufficiency. However, the adverse effects of allopurinol are more severe than with other drugs and can include a severe toxicity syndrome, including eosinophilia, hepatitis, decreased renal function, an erythematous desquamative rash, and, occasionally, a vasculitis. This most commonly occurs in patients with a pre-existing renal dysfunction. When starting any antihyperuricemic agent, it is always important to inform the patient that an acute attack of gout may be precipitated due to a rapid change in the uric-acid concentration.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 72

Question/Fact:

A 57-year-old Greek man presents to your office for an initial visit. He has no symptoms and feels generally well. He has no past medical history and denies taking any medications. On physical examination, there is no jaundice, and his abdomen is soft and nontender. Blood pressure is 110/70 mm Hg; and pulse is 76/min. Rectal examination shows guaiac-negative, brown-appearing stool, and there is no evidence of hemorrhoids. Laboratory studies reveal the following:

Hemoglobin: 10.6 g/dL
Hematocrit: 32%
Platelets: 350,000/mm3
MCV: 65 FL
RBC: 6.8 million/mm3 (normal 4.2-5.9 million/mm3)
Reticulocyte index: 2.8
RDW: 14% (normal 13-15%)

What is the most accurate test to confirm your diagnosis?

(A) Complete iron studies
(B) Bone marrow biopsy
(C) Peripheral smear
(D) Hemoglobin electrophoresis
(E) Colonoscopy

Answer:

(D) Hemoglobin electrophoresis

Explanation:

This patient most likely has the beta-thalassemia trait. He has a moderate anemia in the absence of symptoms. His mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is profoundly low, but because his red cell count is elevated, the hemoglobin and hematocrit are only modestly decreased. The reticulocyte count is somewhat elevated, which would be unusual for either iron-deficiency anemia or anemia of chronic disease. A normal red cell distribution width (RDW) goes against iron-deficiency anemia as well, in which the RDW is usually elevated because the newer cells are smaller than the older cells because the level of iron deficiency is greater in the newer cells.

The peripheral smear is of limited use in any of the microcytic anemias. The presence of anisocytosis can suggest iron-deficiency anemia. All of them can show microcytic, hypochromic cells. Target cells can be found in thalassemia, but other disorders like liver disease can have them as well, and their absence does not exclude thalassemia. Although, being older than 50, he should have a colonoscopy once every ten years as well, this patient's presentation is not consistent with iron deficiency. In thalassemia, iron studies should all be normal. Although this is helpful, it is not as accurate as finding an elevated level of fetal hemoglobin or hemoglobin A2 on the electrophoresis.

Topic:

Hematology-Oncology

Record # 73

Question/Fact:

A 25-year-old man presents to the clinic with diarrhea and abdominal pain for one day after eating with his family at a restaurant. He also admits to having generalized aches in his lower extremities for the past several weeks. Two weeks ago, he had an upper respiratory tract infection with coryza and a sore throat, which has subsided. Upon examination, he has a temperature of 100 F, a macular rash on the face, purpuric skin lesions on both the lower extremities and back, and minimal tenderness around both ankles with no soft tissue swelling. Urine analysis shows proteinuria, red cell casts, and hematuria. The stool guaiac is positive. BUN is 43 mg/dL, and creatinine is 3.7 mg/dL. What is the most accurate method of diagnosis?

(A) Skin biopsy
(B) Serum IgA levels
(C) Response to prednisone
(D) Renal biopsy
(E) 24-hour urine

Answer:

(D) Renal biopsy

Explanation:

This patient has the classic presentation of abdominal pain, palpable purpura, and arthritis of Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP). This disease primarily affects small vessels. The diagnosis is usually made by recognizing the clinical presentation in combination with finding renal involvement on the urinalysis. The disease most commonly occurs in children but occasionally can occur in young adults. Renal biopsy is recommended in this patient because of the presence of proteinuria, red cell casts, and hematuria. Although biopsy diagnosis is usually not necessary, this patient has severe renal damage, and a specific tissue diagnosis is a good idea in the few patients who develop progressive renal insufficiency. Findings may range from focal mesangial proliferation and varying degrees of cellular proliferation to frank crescent formation. Crescent formation needs aggressive management with high-dose corticosteroids. Renal lesions are mediated by IgA autoantibodies against mesangial-cell antigens and are otherwise absent in patients without renal involvement. Most adults do not progress to chronic renal disease or end-stage renal failure. HSP is usually a self-limiting disease, and supportive treatment with NSAIDs can be used for arthralgias and arthritis. High-dose steroids and immunosuppressants, such as cyclophosphamide, can be tried in patients with progressive nephritis. The efficacy of this therapy is not well established.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 74

Question/Fact:

A 62-year-old man is brought to emergency department after being found unresponsive by his wife in their apartment an hour ago. According to the wife, the patient has a history of anxiety and difficulty sleeping, which are being treated with diazepam. He also has depression, which is well controlled with imipramine. The patient uses metoprolol for hypertension and acetaminophen for "aches and pains." He is unresponsive to verbal stimuli. The withdrawal response to painful stimuli is sluggish, and there is occasional muscle twitching. The skin is flushed, and there are dry mucous membranes. The pupils are constricted, and the gag reflex is absent. The temperature is 101 F, with a heart rate of 59/min, a respiratory rate of 9/min, and a blood pressure of 85/50 mm Hg. The oxygen saturation is 85% on room air. The chest, heart, and abdomen examinations are normal. The EKG shows a widened QRS. The patient was intubated by the paramedics and was given administered dextrose, thiamine, and naloxone. What is the best management for this patient?

(A) Administer flumazenil, acetylcysteine, and sodium bicarbonate and induce vomiting
(B) Administer sodium bicarbonate and perform gastric lavage
(C) Give bolus of saline, acetylcysteine, sodium bicarbonate, and charcoal
(D) Administer flumazenil, acetylcysteine, normal saline, and charcoal
(E) Provide supportive care for the patient and wait for him to recover

Answer:

(C) Give bolus of saline, acetylcysteine, sodium bicarbonate, and charcoal

Explanation:

This patient is most likely suffering from an intoxication of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). TCAs are among the most commonly implicated products in suicidal overdose. These drugs have anticholinergic and cardiac-depressant properties with a "quinidine-like" blockade. Their anticholinergic effects include dilated pupils, tachycardia, dry mouth, flushed skin, muscle twitching, and decreased peristalsis. Quinidine-like cardiotoxic effects include QRS-interval widening, ventricular arrhythmias, atrioventricular block, and hypotension. However, rather than being tachycardic, he has a mild bradycardia, and constricted pupils indicate a mixed anticholinergic and sympatholytic syndrome. The sympatholytic syndrome is characterized by bradycardia, hypotension, miosis, and decreased peristalsis and occurs in benzodiazepine, sedative-hypnotic, antihypertensive, ethanol, and opioid abuse. The patient is hypotensive. For hypotension caused by TCA or related drugs, administer intravenous fluids and sodium bicarbonate. Boluses of sodium bicarbonate block the quinidine-like effect upon the cardiac conduction system.

Acetaminophen toxicity is likely in this case. Seven to ten grams of acetaminophen per day may cause acetaminophen toxicity. Acetylcysteine is a specific antidote for acetaminophen intoxication and may be given before the blood/urine levels of acetaminophen are determined. Gastric lavage is not effective when performed more than 1-hour postingestion and would have no benefit in this patient. Flumazenil can induce seizures in patients with chronic benzodiazepine dependence. This is especially true when there is concomitant TCA overdose. Flumazenil is used strictly for reversal of pure benzodiazepine sedation, most commonly acquired in the hospital. Inducing vomiting with ipecac is contraindicated in drowsy, unconscious, or convulsing patients or in those who have ingested corrosive agents.

Topic:

Poisoning

Record # 75

Question/Fact:

A 34-year-old woman presents with complaints of asthma, which is worse at night. She has been using an albuterol inhaler with some relief of symptoms. She has a history of heartburn. On occasion, she uses famotidine, which she says improves her heartburn and asthma. She wonders if she needs the albuterol inhaler. What would be the most accurate test to evaluate if her asthma is related to gastroesophageal reflux disease?

(A) Upper endoscopy
(B) Barium swallow
(C) 24-hour ambulatory esophageal pH
(D) Esophageal manometry
(E) Overnight nuclear medicine scan

Answer:

(C) 24-hour ambulatory esophageal pH

Explanation:

Twenty-four-hour pH monitoring is the most accurate method of detecting reflux disease. Upper endoscopy is used to identify Barrett's esophagus. A barium swallow detects rings and webs, and manometry is the most accurate way to distinguish achalasia.

Topic:

Gastroenterology

Record # 76

Question/Fact:

A 25-year-old woman with known multiple sclerosis comes to your clinic complaining of urinary hesitancy. She states that her symptoms have begun gradually over the last 3 months and have progressively worsened. Cystometrics show bladder hypertonicity with sphincter dyssynergy. What is the treatment of choice for this patient's symptoms?

(A) Oxybutynin
(B) Oxybutynin and intermittent bladder catheterization
(C) Amitriptyline
(D) Bethanechol
(E) Amantadine

Answer:

(B) Oxybutynin and intermittent bladder catheterization

Explanation:

Oxybutynin is used for treatment of a hyperactive bladder producing urinary incontinence. This patient has hypertonicity as demonstrated on bladder cystometric evaluation. This is why the oxybutynin should be used. Because of the dyssynergy of the sphincter, intermittent straight catheters should be used as well. Steroids are used for the treatment of an acute exacerbation of multiple sclerosis (MS). Bethanechol is the treatment of choice for patients with MS complaining of urinary retention. Amitriptyline has significant anticholinergic effects that will only worsen her urinary retention. Amantadine treats mild tremor in elderly patients and will have no effect on urinary symptoms.

Topic:

Neurology

Record # 77

Question/Fact:

A 34-year-old woman is admitted with one week of hemoptysis, a low-grade fever, and a 15-pound weight loss over the last two months. There are no chills or night sweats. She uses trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) intermittently for recurrent respiratory tract infections. Currently, her temperature is 100 F with a heart rate of 92/min, a respiratory rate of 18/min, and a blood pressure of 138/82 mm Hg. Her chest has bronchial breath sounds on auscultation of the left upper lung field. Her BUN is 26 mg/dL, and creatinine is 2.0 mg/dL. The C-ANCA is positive. Chest x-ray shows a cavitary lesion in the left upper lobe. Her urinalysis shows 2+ proteinuria with 20-30 red cells/hpf, but no red cell casts. What is the most specific diagnostic test?

(A) Bronchoalveolar lavage with transbronchial biopsy
(B) Open lung biopsy
(C) Renal biopsy
(D) 24-hour urine protein and creatinine clearance
(E) CT scan of the chest with needle biopsy
(F) Nasal biopsy

Answer:

(B) Open lung biopsy

Explanation:

This patient has a combination of renal and lung disease and a positive C-ANCA test -- all consistent with a diagnosis of Wegener's granulomatosis. The most accurate diagnostic test for Wegener's is an open lung biopsy. Nasal biopsy may be sufficient to confirm the diagnosis, but it may not show a vasculitis. Open lung biopsy is more specifically diagnostic than is a nasal biopsy, renal biopsy, or transthoracic biopsy. Bronchoalveolar lavage with transbronchial biopsy is more effective in diagnosing infection. In the majority of the cases, it can miss the vasculitis. Renal biopsy is not as sensitive or specific as open lung biopsy. The 24-hour urine cannot determine the precise cause of what is found, even if the test is markedly abnormal.

Topic:

Rheumatology

Record # 78

Question/Fact:

A 67-year-old woman presents to your clinic with a chief complaint of palpitations that occur on and off for the past week. She states that she has been experiencing this problem for many months, but the problem always resolved on its own and would only last for several minutes. Recently, the palpitations have become more frequent and are disturbing her daily routine. She has a past medical history of hypertension and diabetes and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation two years ago. Cardioversion was attempted twice but failed, and she is now taking coumadin daily.

Her blood pressure is 130/85 mm Hg, and the pulse is irregularly irregular at a rate of 110/min. The INR is 2.l. Which of the following is true for this patient?

(A) Chemical ablation with alcohol is the next treatment of choice.
(B) Chemical ablation with phenol is the next treatment of choice.
(C) Tip catheter with standard radiofrequency at a tip temperature of 95 C is the next best step.
(D) Tip catheter with standard radiofrequency at a tip temperature of 70 C is the next best step.
(E) There is no need for treatment at this time.

Answer:

(D) Tip catheter with standard radiofrequency at a tip temperature of 70 C is the next best step.

Explanation:

After adequate mapping is done in atrial fibrillation, there are many techniques for ablation therapy. A "basket" catheter can be used to record and plot activation times on the contour map of the chamber, and there is a "virtual" electrocardiogram recorded from a mesh electrode situated in the middle of the chamber cavity.

There are several ablation techniques that can be used, including radiofrequency (RF) energy delivery and chemical ablation. The RF technology is used first and is important because the temperature of the tip of the catheter should be around 70 C. If the temperature is greater than 90 C, there is coagulation of the blood elements, which will preclude further energy delivery. These can also detach and embolize. Cooling the catheter tip is a method used through many different pathways, and it enhances efficacy.

Chemical ablation should be used in an attempt to create AV blocks in those patients who do not respond to catheter ablation. With chemical ablation, recurrences of the tachycardia a few days after the procedure are common.

Topic:

Cardiology

Record # 79

Question/Fact:

A 30-year-old woman with a history of infection with HIV and hepatitis C is admitted for right-knee swelling and pain, a low-grade fever, and cough. The right leg has been getting increasingly painful and swollen over the past few days. She was discharged three weeks ago from a different hospital with a diagnosis of tuberculosis. Her medications after discharge were rifampin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, ethambutol, Bactrim, and fluoxetine. She does not remember the doses.
Her temperature is 100.2 F, blood pressure is 145/92 mm Hg, and the physical examination is only remarkable for an erythematous, swollen, tender right knee. What is the most likely etiology of this problem?

(A) Isoniazid
(B) Pyrazinamide
(C) Ethambutol
(D) Interaction between fluoxetine and antituberculosis medications
(E) Rifampin

Answer:

(B) Pyrazinamide

Explanation:

This patient appears to have developed drug toxicity from pyrazinamide, which has led to gout. Although it would be helpful to obtain a serum level of uric acid, it would be more helpful to obtain an arthrocentesis to look for negatively birefringent, needle-shaped crystals. If the uric-acid level was elevated and there were crystals in the synovial fluid, then the diagnosis would be gout secondary to pyrazinamide toxicity. A lower-extremity Doppler would only be helpful to rule out venous thrombosis, which would most likely be negative in this case, given the low index of suspicion. Serum transaminases would only add information regarding possible medication toxicities but would not aid in the diagnosis of a specific drug as the etiology. All tuberculosis medications can elevate the transaminases. Those patients who develop an asymptomatic hyperuricemia from pyrazinamide do not need to be treated or have the drug stopped. Ethambutol is associated with optic neuritis.

Topic:

Pulmonary

Record # 80

Question/Fact:

A 27-year-old woman seeks the advice of her primary medical doctor because of progressive swelling of the right knee. She also complains of mild rectal discharge and pain in her wrists and ankles. She is afebrile. She has some mild pharyngeal injection, and the lungs and abdomen are normal. There is no rash evident. Examination of the lower extremities reveals an erythematous and edematous right knee with tenderness over the tendon sheaths of the ankles and wrists. Which of the following procedures is most likely to yield a diagnosis in this patient?

(A) Arthrocentesis and culture of the synovial fluid
(B) Blood culture
(C) Gram stain of the synovial fluid
(D) Cervical Gram stain
(E) Culture of the urethra, cervix, rectum, and pharynx

Answer:

(E) Culture of the urethra, cervix, rectum, and pharynx

Explanation:

Dissemination of gonococcal infection occurs from the site of inoculation via the bloodstream. There is an association with menstruation, pregnancy, and C6 through C9 terminal complement deficiency. Disseminated gonococcal infection presents with intermittent fevers, arthralgias, joint effusion, and tenosynovitis involving the ankles, backs of hands, and wrists. Skin lesions can range from a maculopapular rash to pustular or petechial lesions. Culture has been the gold standard for diagnosis of gonorrhea, particularly when Gram stain is negative. The Gram stain of cervical discharge is positive with gonorrhea approximately 50% of the time, whereas culture, especially with selective Thayer-Martin media, is positive up to 90% of the time when there is a discharge. The sensitivity of cervical cultures is closer to 30% in disseminated gonorrhea in the absence of discharge. Blood cultures are rarely positive with disseminated gonorrhea (10%) but are more often found to be positive with nongonococcal infectious arthritis, such as from staphylococci or streptococci. Synovial fluid culture and Gram stain are negative early in the course of the illness half of the time in gonococcal disease. Gram stain of a pharyngeal smear is not specific due to the presence of other gram-negative diplococci in the normal oral flora. Because culture of the synovial fluid is so often negative, the best yield is with combining cultures of a number of remote sites, in addition to culturing the joint itself. Although you certainly would perform the joint fluid culture, the point of the question is that a combination of remote site cultures has a greater sensitivity than simply culturing the joint itself.

Topic:

Infectious Diseases

 
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1076218
  boardway - 12/05/07 12:22
 
  Thanks for your q-BANK!  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1076232
  aiissman - 12/05/07 12:29
 
  Those are fisher's qs.. they helped me. i like them  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1076396
  drhope07 - 12/05/07 13:35
 
  Thank you aiissman. are these questions better than UW?

can you please advise how you studied for ethics questions? is UW enough to master ethics topic? any review website or book you recommend for a fast prep? thank you so much!
 
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1076467
  aiissman - 12/05/07 14:02
 
  No these are extra, b/c UW is a must.  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1079656
  aiissman - 12/07/07 13:25
 
  up...........  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1082279
  georgebush - 12/10/07 01:36
 
  just to keep this thread in d first page.  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1082493
  georgebush - 12/10/07 11:47
 
  again  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1083294
  drchuck - 12/11/07 00:33
 
  good  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1152404
  aiissman - 02/01/08 12:19
 
  for ppl. don't have these notes.  
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* Re:Good luck to all still studing, I hope this hel
#1173526
  3steps - 02/16/08 16:44
 
  UP  
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