Quality assessment of expert answers to lay questions about cystic fibrosis from various language zones in Europe: the ECORN-CF project
Kris De Boeck
Thomas Otto Friedrich Wagner
Helge Uwe Hebestreit
- Background: The European Centres of Reference Network for Cystic Fibrosis (ECORN-CF) established an Internet forum which provides the opportunity for CF patients and other interested people to ask experts questions about CF in their mother language. The objectives of this study were to: 1. develop a detailed quality assessment tool to analyze quality of expert answers, 2. evaluate the intra- and inter-rater agreement of this tool, and 3. explore changes in the quality of expert answers over the time frame of the project.
Methods: The quality assessment tool was developed by an expert panel. Five experts within the ECORN-CF project used the quality assessment tool to analyze the quality of 108 expert answers published on ECORN-CF from six language zones. 25 expert answers were scored at two time points, one year apart. Quality of answers was also assessed at an early and later period of the project. Individual rater scores and group mean scores were analyzed for each expert answer.
Results: A scoring system and training manual were developed analyzing two quality categories of answers: content and formal quality. For content quality, the grades based on group mean scores for all raters showed substantial agreement between two time points, however this was not the case for the grades based on individual rater scores. For formal quality the grades based on group mean scores showed only slight agreement between two time points and there was also poor agreement between time points for the individual grades. The inter-rater agreement for content quality was fair (mean kappa value 0.232+/-0.036, p<0.001) while only slight agreement was observed for the grades of the formal quality (mean kappa value 0.105+/-0.024, p<0.001). The quality of expert answers was rated high (four language zones) or satisfactory (two language zones) and did not change over time.
Conclusions: The quality assessment tool described in this study was feasible and reliable when content quality was assessed by a group of raters. Within ECORN-CF, the tool will help ensure that CF patients all over Europe have equal possibility of access to high quality expert advice on their illness.
Descending aortic calcification increases renal dysfunction and in-hospital mortality in cardiac surgery patients with intraaortic balloon pump counterpulsation placed perioperatively: a case control study
James D. Rawn
Prem S. Shekar
Tobias Michael Bingold
Holger K. Eltzschig
Stanton K Shernan
- Introduction: Acute kidney injury (AKI) after cardiac surgery increases length of hospital stay and in-hospital mortality. A significant number of patients undergoing cardiac surgical procedures require perioperative intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) support. Use of an IABP has been linked to an increased incidence of perioperative renal dysfunction and death. This might be due to dislodgement of atherosclerotic material in the descending thoracic aorta (DTA). Therefore, we retrospectively studied the correlation between DTA atheroma, AKI and in-hospital mortality.
Methods: A total of 454 patients were retrospectively matched to one of four groups: -IABP/-DTA atheroma, +IABP/-DTA atheroma, -IABP/+DTA atheroma, +IABP/+DTA atheroma. Patients were then matched according to presence/absence of DTA atheroma, presence/absence of IABP, performed surgical procedure, age, gender and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). DTA atheroma was assessed through standard transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) imaging studies of the descending thoracic aorta.
Results: Basic patient characteristics, except for age and gender, did not differ between groups. Perioperative AKI in patients with -DTA atheroma/+IABP was 5.1% versus 1.7% in patients with -DTA atheroma/-IABP. In patients with +DTA atheroma/+IABP the incidence of AKI was 12.6% versus 5.1% in patients with +DTA atheroma/-IABP. In-hospital mortality in patients with +DTA atheroma/-IABP was 3.4% versus 8.4% with +DTA atheroma/+IABP. In patients with +DTA atheroma/+IABP in hospital mortality was 20.2% versus 6.4% with +DTA atheroma/-IABP. Multivariate logistic regression identified DTA atheroma > 1 mm (P = *0.002, odds ratio (OR) = 4.13, confidence interval (CI) = 1.66 to 10.30), as well as IABP support (P = *0.015, OR = 3.04, CI = 1.24 to 7.45) as independent predictors of perioperative AKI and increased in-hospital mortality. DTA atheroma in conjunction with IABP significantly increased the risk of developing acute kidney injury (P = 0.0016) and in-hospital mortality (P = 0.0001) when compared to control subjects without IABP and without DTA atheroma.
Conclusions: Perioperative IABP and DTA atheroma are independent predictors of perioperative AKI and in-hospital mortality. Whether adding an IABP in patients with severe DTA calcification increases their risk of developing AKI and mortality postoperatively cannot be clearly answered in this study. Nevertheless, when IABP and DTA are combined, patients are more likely to develop AKI and to die postoperatively in comparison to patients without IABP and DTA atheroma.
Prospective evaluation of artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of non-falciparum and mixed-species malaria in Gabon
Daisy A. Diop
Ayola A. Adegnika
Peter G. Kremsner
- Background: The recommendation of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) as first-line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria is supported by a plethora of high quality clinical trials. However, their recommendation for the treatment of mixed-species malaria and the large-scale use for the treatment of non-falciparum malaria in endemic regions is based on anecdotal rather than systematic clinical evidence.
Methods: This study prospectively observed the efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of uncomplicated non-falciparum or mixed-species malaria in two routine district hospitals in the Central African country of Gabon.
Results: Forty patients suffering from uncomplicated Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale or mixed-species malaria (including Plasmodium falciparum) presenting at the hospital received artemether-lumefantrine treatment and were followed up. All evaluable patients (n = 38) showed an adequate clinical and parasitological response on Day 28 after oral treatment with artemether-lumefantrine (95% confidence interval: 0.91,1). All adverse events were of mild to moderate intensity and completely resolved by the end of study.
Conclusions: This first systematic assessment of artemether-lumefantrine treatment for P. malariae, P. ovale and mixed-species malaria demonstrated a high cure rate of 100% and a favourable tolerability profile, and thus lends support to the practice of treating non-falciparum or mixed-species malaria, or all cases of malaria without definite species differentiation, with artemether-lumefantrine in Gabon.
Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00725777
Biglycan: a multivalent proteoglycan providing structure and signals
Madalina V. Nastase
Marian F. Young
- Research over the past few years has provided fascinating results indicating that biglycan, besides being a ubiquitous structural component of the extracellular matrix (ECM), may act as a signaling molecule. Proteolytically released from the ECM, biglycan acts as a danger signal signifying tissue stress or injury. As a ligand of innate immunity receptors and activator of the inflammasome, biglycan stimulates multifunctional proinflammatory signaling linking the innate to the adaptive immune response. By clustering several types of receptors on the cell surface and orchestrating their downstream signaling events, biglycan is capable to autonomously trigger sterile inflammation and to potentiate the inflammatory response to microbial invasion. Besides operating in a broad biological context, biglycan also displays tissue-specific affinities to certain receptors and structural components, thereby playing a crucial role in bone formation, muscle integrity, and synapse stability at the neuromuscular junction. This review attempts to provide a concise summary of recent data regarding the involvement of biglycan in the regulation of inflammation and the musculoskeletal system, pointing out both a signaling and a structural role for this proteoglycan. The potential of biglycan as a novel therapeutic target or agent for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and skeletal muscular dystrophies is also addressed.
Changes of smooth muscle contractile filaments in small bowel atresia
- AIM: To investigate morphological changes of intestinal smooth muscle contractile fibres in small bowel atresia patients. METHODS: Resected small bowel specimens from small bowel atresia patients (n = 12) were divided into three sections (proximal, atretic and distal). Standard histology hematoxylin-eosin staining and enzyme immunohistochemistry was performed to visualize smooth muscle contractile markers α-smooth muscle actin (SMA) and desmin using conventional paraffin sections of the proximal and distal bowel. Small bowel from age-matched patients (n = 2) undergoing Meckel's diverticulum resection served as controls.
RESULTS: The smooth muscle coat in the proximal bowel of small bowel atresia patients was thickened compared with control tissue, but the distal bowel was unchanged. Expression of smooth muscle contractile fibres SMA and desmin within the proximal bowel was slightly reduced compared with the distal bowel and control tissue. There were no major differences in the architecture of the smooth muscle within the proximal bowel and the distal bowel. The proximal and distal bowel in small bowel atresia patients revealed only minimal differences regarding smooth muscle morphology and the presence of smooth muscle contractile filament markers.
CONCLUSION: Changes in smooth muscle contractile filaments do not appear to play a major role in postoperative motility disorders in small bowel atresia.
Investigation of acupuncture sensation patterns under sensory deprivation using a geographic information system
- The study of acupuncture-related sensations, like deqi and propagated sensations along channels (PSCs), has a long tradition in acupuncture basic research. The phenomenon itself, however, remains poorly understood. To study the connection between PSC and classical meridians, we applied a geographic information system (GIS) to analyze sketches of acupuncture sensations from healthy volunteers after laser acupuncture. As PSC can be subtle, we aimed at reducing the confounding impact of external stimuli by carrying out the experiment in a floatation tank under restricted environmental stimulation. 82.4% of the subjects experienced PSC, that is, they had line-like or 2-dimensional sensations, although there were some doubts that these were related to the laser stimulation. Line-like sensations on the same limb were averaged to calculate sensation mean courses, which were then compared to classical meridians by measuring the mean distance between the two. Distances ranged from 0.83 cm in the case of the heart (HT) and spleen (SP) meridian to 6.27 cm in the case of the kidney (KI) meridian. Furthermore, PSC was observed to “jump” between adjacent meridians. In summary, GIS has proven to be a valuable tool to study PSC, and our results suggest a close connection between PSC and classical meridians.
Molecular biology of hearing
- The inner ear is our most sensitive sensory organ and can be subdivided into three functional units: organ of Corti, stria vascularis and spiral ganglion. The appropriate stimulus for the organ of hearing is sound, which travels through the external auditory canal to the middle ear where it is transmitted to the inner ear. The inner ear houses the hair cells, the sensory cells of hearing. The inner hair cells are capable of mechanotransduction, the transformation of mechanical force into an electrical signal, which is the basic principle of hearing. The stria vascularis generates the endocochlear potential and maintains the ionic homeostasis of the endolymph. The dendrites of the spiral ganglion form synaptic contacts with the hair cells. The spiral ganglion is composed of neurons that transmit the electrical signals from the cochlea to the central nervous system. In recent years there has been significant progress in research on the molecular basis of hearing. An increasing number of genes and proteins related to hearing are being identified and characterized. The growing knowledge of these genes contributes not only to greater appreciation of the mechanism of hearing but also to a deeper understanding of the molecular basis of hereditary hearing loss. This basic research is a prerequisite for the development of molecular diagnostics and novel therapies for hearing loss.
The clinical examination of children, adolescents and their families
Thomas Jakob Lempp
Daleen de Lange
Daniel Matthias Radeloff
P3b reflects periodicity in linguistic sequences
Cornelius Benjamin Abel
Linda Verena Heinemann
- Temporal predictability is thought to affect stimulus processing by facilitating the allocation of attentional resources. Recent studies have shown that periodicity of a tonal sequence results in a decreased peak latency and a larger amplitude of the P3b compared with temporally random, i.e., aperiodic sequences. We investigated whether this applies also to sequences of linguistic stimuli (syllables), although speech is usually aperiodic. We compared aperiodic syllable sequences with two temporally regular conditions. In one condition, the interval between syllable onset was fixed, whereas in a second condition the interval between the syllables’ perceptual center (p-center) was kept constant. Event-related potentials were assessed in 30 adults who were instructed to detect irregularities in the stimulus sequences. We found larger P3b amplitudes for both temporally predictable conditions as compared to the aperiodic condition and a shorter P3b latency in the p-center condition than in both other conditions. These findings demonstrate that even in acoustically more complex sequences such as syllable streams, temporal predictability facilitates the processing of deviant stimuli. Furthermore, we provide first electrophysiological evidence for the relevance of the p-center concept in linguistic stimulus processing.
Systematic review and meta-analysis of the value of initial biomarkers in predicting adverse outcome in febrile neutropenic episodes in children and young people with cancer
Robert S. Phillips
Lesley A. Stewart
Alex J. Sutton
- Background: Febrile neutropenia is a frequently occurring and occasionally life-threatening complication of treatment for childhood cancer. Many biomarkers have been proposed as predictors of adverse events. We aimed to undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis to summarize evidence on the discriminatory ability of initial serum biomarkers of febrile neutropenic episodes in children and young people.
Methods: This review was conducted in accordance with the Center for Reviews and Dissemination Methods, using three random effects models to undertake meta-analysis. It was registered with the HTA Registry of systematic reviews, CRD32009100485.
Results: We found that 25 studies exploring 14 different biomarkers were assessed in 3,585 episodes of febrile neutropenia. C-reactive protein (CRP), pro-calcitonin (PCT), and interleukin-6 (IL6) were subject to quantitative meta-analysis, and revealed huge inconsistencies and heterogeneity in the studies included in this review. Only CRP has been evaluated in assessing its value over the predictive value of simple clinical decision rules.
Conclusions: The limited data available describing the predictive value of biomarkers in the setting of pediatric febrile neutropenia mean firm conclusions cannot yet be reached, although the use of IL6, IL8 and procalcitonin warrant further study.