Clinical Questions

Oxygen-Induced Hypercapnia in COPD: What is the Mechanism?

September 28, 2016
Oxygen-Induced Hypercapnia in COPD: What is the Mechanism?

By Jonathan Glatt

Peer Reviewed 

It was my first week on the wards as a third-year medical student, and I found myself huddled with the team in a busy corner of the Bellevue ED, listening to a man cough and wheeze his way through an interview. He was an elderly patient with an extensive smoking history–a lifetime of a destructive habit that had dilated and distorted his lungs beyond repair. He told us, between bouts of breathlessness, of worsening dyspnea and copious sputum production over …

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Little Knowledge, Large Problem: Lack of Nutrition and Obesity Education in Medical Curricula

September 23, 2016
Little Knowledge, Large Problem: Lack of Nutrition and Obesity Education in Medical Curricula

By Elissa Driggin

Peer Reviewed

At almost every single one of my medical school interviews, each interviewer, noting my college major in nutritional science, asked some variation of the question, “What should I be eating to stay healthy?” Each time, I was left unsure of whether or not this question was aimed to gauge my ability to hold a conversation in a stressful environment, articulate my thoughts in a logical manner, or fulfill some other mysterious goal of the infamous medical school interview process. Or, …

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Are We Too Clean or Too Dirty? The Hygiene Hypothesis in Asthma

September 21, 2016
Are We Too Clean or Too Dirty? The Hygiene Hypothesis in Asthma

By James Barger

Peer Reviewed

Asthma, an obstructive pulmonary disease characterized by bronchospasm and chronic airway inflammation, has afflicted mankind for millennia. In the 1st century AD, the Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia described an attack thus:

“the cheeks are ruddy, eyes protuberant, as if from strangulation…voice liquid and without resonance…they breathe standing, as if desiring to draw in all the air which they possibly can inhale, and, in their want of air they also open the mouth as if thus to enjoy the more …

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Sex or Drugs: Why Do We See An Increased Incidence of Oropharyngeal Cancer?

July 13, 2016
Sex or Drugs: Why Do We See An Increased Incidence of Oropharyngeal Cancer?

By Tyler Litton, MD

Peer Reviewed

Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is relatively rare but incidence has increased in the US over the past 40 years. Tonsillar cancer is the most common type of OPSCC followed by base of tongue cancer, which together account for 90% of all OPSCCs. The incidence of both tonsillar and base of tongue cancers individually have also increased in the US. OPSCC is more common in men than women and smoking and alcohol are well known risk factors for …

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Gun Violence: A Public Health Concern?

June 9, 2016
Gun Violence: A Public Health Concern?

By Matthew B. McNeill, MD

Peer Reviewed

One can often feel numb or indifferent to the seemingly nightly reports of gun deaths on American news programs. Individual homicides, suicides, or accidental gun deaths are tragic and tragically commonplace. However, over the last two decades, a tide of unrest with the current role of guns in America has arisen in the wake of mass school shootings in places such as Jonesboro, AR (1998, 5 killed, 10 injured), Columbine, CO (1999, 13 killed, 24 injured), Red Lake …

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Wearable Health Trackers: Better behaviors, or Fashion fads?

May 25, 2016
Wearable Health Trackers: Better behaviors, or Fashion fads?

By David Valentine, MD

Peer Reviewed

Currently, well over one third of US adults use at least one health-related online service or app, with almost half of those focused on physical activity 1. With the growing popularity of wearable health tracking devices such as the Fitbit, Nike Fuel, Jawbone and more, the prevalence of these technologies is only set to grow. However, while more and more people know more and more about their health and habits by the day, little is known about perhaps the …

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Can N-Acetylcysteine be Used in Non-Acetaminophen Induced Acute Liver Failure?

May 20, 2016
Can N-Acetylcysteine be Used in Non-Acetaminophen Induced Acute Liver Failure?

By David Pineles, MD

Peer Reviewed

In the early 1970’s, scientists discovered in animal models that a minor metabolite of acetaminophen, N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI), accumulates in the body after ingestion. This metabolite is normally conjugated by glutathione, but when acetaminophen is taken in excess, the body’s glutathione reserves are inadequate to inactivate all of the toxic NAPQI. This metabolite is then free to cause direct damage to hepatocytes. If present in high enough concentrations, the liver damage can be so extensive that it results in …

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Bedside Rounds: How Useful are the Kernig and Brudzinski signs for Predicting Meningitis?

April 27, 2016
Bedside Rounds: How Useful are the Kernig and Brudzinski signs for Predicting Meningitis?

By Chio Yokose, MD

Peer Reviewed

Even in this era of modern medicine, bacterial meningitis remains a widely feared diagnosis in both resource-rich and -poor settings worldwide. Bacterial meningitis is among the ten most common infectious causes of death and kills approximately 135,000 people around the world each year .

It is a medical, neurologic, and sometimes neurosurgical emergency that affects 4 to 6 per 100,000 adults annually .  Many healthcare providers may consider the diagnosis when evaluating a patient, but it can nonetheless be …

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Could Metformin be the First Anti-Aging Drug?

February 11, 2016
Could Metformin be the First Anti-Aging Drug?

By Amy Shen Tang, MD

Peer Reviewed

“I would pay you if you took it away from me. I’d try to buy it back,” said Irving Kahn, the late Wall Street investment advisor when asked if he would ever retire from work . Mr. Kahn, who founded Kahn Brothers Group, Inc. with his sons more than 40 years ago, took an active role as chair of his company until his passing last winter at the ripe age of 109 years. Kahn and his siblings all …

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When and How Should We Examine the Spleen?

January 28, 2016
When and How Should We Examine the Spleen?

By Jenna Tarasoff

Peer Reviewed

A 65-year-old African woman presents with two months of fevers and 25-pound weight loss along with a month of nausea and retching, accompanied by left-sided abdominal pain. The exam is significant for axillary lymphadenopathy, abdominal distension, splenomegaly, and palpable purpura on her arms, legs, and back. Labs are significant for leukocytosis, lymphopenia, microcytic anemia, increased ferritin, and positive hepatitis C virus PCR. Abdominal CT shows multiple enlarged nodes and an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly). 

As I prepare to present my diagnosis …

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The Quest for the HIV Vaccine: Are We Closer Than We Think?

January 20, 2016
The Quest for the HIV Vaccine: Are We Closer Than We Think?

By Amar Parikh, MD 

Peer Reviewed

Amidst the global panic over the recent Ebola outbreak, another well-known pathogen that has been devastating the world for decades continues to smolder—the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2013 there were 35 million people worldwide living with HIV, 2.1 million of who were newly infected that year . HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of nearly 40 million people to date, with 1.5 million people dying from AIDS in 2013 alone. Although highly …

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Is It Time to Reconsider Who Should Get Metformin?

December 11, 2015
Is It Time to Reconsider Who Should Get Metformin?

By Lauren Strazzulla

Current FDA guidelines for the use of metformin stipulate that it not be prescribed to those with an elevated creatinine (at or above 1.5 mg/dL for men and 1.4 mg/dL for women). It is also contraindicated in patients with heart failure requiring pharmacologic treatment, and people over age 80, unless their creatinine demonstrates that renal function is not reduced. These guidelines are in place to prevent lactic acidosis, an understandably feared complication of metformin. However, metformin is, by consensus, the initial drug …

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