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NIHR Signal Diagnosis of delirium in hospitals can be improved by the 4 A’s test
A new shorter test for delirium appears helpful in assessing older people in hospital who may have the condition. A normal score on the 4 A’s test effectively rules out delirium while an abnormal score is reasonably useful for detecting the condition. People detected by the test would still need a full assessment to confirm the diagnosis. Delirium is common in older people who have been hospitalised, but it can go undiagnosed. To help combat this, the 4 A’s test was developed as an ...
NIHR Signal Whole-body MRI scans are as accurate as standard imaging pathways for lung cancer staging
Using whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the initial investigation pathway is as good as standard pathways for detecting metastatic disease in adults with non-small-cell lung cancer. This NIHR-funded study also found that WB-MRI used for diagnosis and staging is quicker, cheaper and requires fewer other investigations than standard pathways. Although patients reported that having whole-body MRI was a greater burden than standard imaging, they generally preferred whole-body MRI if it...
NIHR Signal Whole-body MRI is effective for identifying metastatic disease in colorectal cancer patients
Initial investigation which includes whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is as good as standard pathways for detecting metastatic disease in adults with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer. This NIHR-funded study also found that whole-body MRI reduces the number of investigations needed, the length of the staging process, and costs less than standard pathways. The treatment options for colorectal cancer depend on the stage of the cancer. For example, if a patient has metastatic disease (s...
NIHR Signal Transvaginal ultrasound and MRI achieve similar accuracy for diagnosing lower bowel endometriosis
Transvaginal ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are both accurate ways to diagnose the most severe form of deep endometriosis affecting the bowel. By using both transvaginal ultrasound and MRI, the chance of non-invasively and accurately diagnosing endometriosis of the lower bowel rises to nearly 100%. This review and meta-analysis looked at eight studies where both transvaginal ultrasound and MRI had been used to diagnose endometriosis in a total of 1,132 women. In each indi...
NIHR Signal Placental growth factor testing can speed up diagnosis of pre-eclampsia
Measuring the level of placental growth factor (PlGF) in women with suspected pre-eclampsia helps to reduce the time to diagnose pre-eclampsia from 4 days to 2 days. PlGF testing is also associated with fewer adverse outcomes for mothers. In this NIHR-funded trial, the test results were used alongside the NICE clinical management algorithm to help clinicians make a diagnosis. Pre-eclampsia can lead to serious complications for mothers and babies. Women with suspected pre-eclampsia require furt...
NIHR Signal C-reactive protein is not useful in diagnosing late-onset infection in newborns
The blood level of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker indicating inflammation in the body, is not accurate enough alone to diagnose late-onset infection in newborn infants. Late-onset neonatal infection, occurring more than three days after birth, is potentially serious and is relatively common. Tests measuring the blood level of CRP are widely used by physicians to guide their decision on whether or not to start antibiotic treatment for suspected infection. This NIHR-funded review found 20 st...
NIHR Signal Brain scan may predict long-term disabilities in babies with brain injury
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a type of scan which shows brain biochemistry, could help predict whether there will be long-term effects of brain injury (encephalopathy) in new-born babies. It is usually done alongside an MRI. Researchers scanned 82 babies being treated for brain injury, using MRI and also magnetic resonance spectroscopy. One biomarker tested at seven days after birth, thalamic N-acetylaspartate, correctly identified all babies who went on to have adverse developmental outcom...
NIHR Signal Dermoscopy plus visual inspection aids melanoma diagnosis
Dermoscopy, using a relatively cheap handheld magnifying device alongside naked eye observation, is more accurate in the diagnosis of melanoma than visual inspection alone. It can also provide a photographic record which can be used for reference during follow-up. This NIHR-funded review included 104 studies of skin lesions in the dermatology clinic that looked suspicious or were present in those at high risk of developing melanoma. Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer. Inspection of the lesi...
NIHR Signal An ultrasound scan is not as useful as a CT scan in assessing trauma
Ultrasound scans can be a useful tool to help pinpoint internal bleeding or organ damage in the chest or abdomen, but a negative scan cannot rule out damage, especially in children. Many emergency departments use portable ultrasound scanners to assess for internal damage when someone has been subject to blunt trauma (for example, involved in a car accident or fallen from a height). Ultrasound is free from radiation, non-invasive and can be used at the bedside, making it convenient if CT is not ...
NIHR Signal Repeat thyroid function tests for healthy older people are not needed
Older adults with normal thyroid function or subclinical thyroid dysfunction show notable long-term stability of their thyroid hormone levels. This suggests that it is safe for GPs not to routinely retest older adults unless they have risk factors or develop clinical symptoms of overt thyroid dysfunction. Over five years, about 0.2% older adults with normal thyroid function will develop overt hypothyroidism and about 3.5% will develop subclinical hypothyroidism. Amongst those with subclinical h...
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