Concise Reviews for Primary-Care Physicians
- Nausea and vomiting (N/V) are common presenting complaints in the outpatient and inpatient settings. These symptoms can be associated with high morbidity and poor quality of life, particularly in those with chronic symptoms. The clinical approach to N/V can be challenging, given the numerous possible underlying causes as well as the vast array of diagnostic and therapeutic options. In this concise review, we provide a practical 5-step approach to the clinical evaluation and treatment of N/V, suitable for application in the primary care and subspecialty settings.
- Vaginitis is a common concern for women across the lifespan. Vaginal symptoms may impact quality of life, and clinicians are challenged in the evaluation and management of bacterial vaginosis, Candida vaginitis, trichomoniasis, desquamative inflammatory vaginitis, and genitourinary syndrome of menopause.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding is a common clinical problem encountered in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. Although the evaluation of upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding is often straightforward, bleeding from the small bowel may pose a clinical challenge. In this article, we review the indications, modalities, and differential diagnoses of small bowel bleeding. On completion of the article, clinicians should be able to identify common causes of small bowel bleeding, understand the advantages and disadvantages of the modalities used to evaluate small bowel bleeding, and enact a stepwise management approach to the patient with presumed small bowel bleeding.
- Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common clinical entity that can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life secondary to symptoms of pelvic pressure, vaginal bulge, urinary and bowel dysfunction, or sexual dysfunction. It is highly prevalent, with roughly 13% of women undergoing surgery for prolapse in their lifetime. Vaginal prolapse is diagnosed by history and physical examination. Additional testing may be indicated for evaluation of bowel and bladder symptoms. On examination, prolapse can represent descent of the anterior vaginal wall, vaginal apex (cervix/uterus or vaginal cuff scar after hysterectomy), or posterior vaginal wall, although it represents a combination of these in many cases.
- Microscopic colitis (MC) is an inflammatory disease of the colon and a common cause of chronic watery diarrhea, predominantly in older patients. Microscopic colitis encompasses 2 different subtypes, lymphocytic colitis and collagenous colitis. The colon typically appears normal endoscopically in MC, and the diagnosis requires histologic evaluation. Whereas recent studies suggest that the incidence of MC has plateaued, given the aging of the population, the prevalence of MC will likely increase. Risk factors for MC include increasing age; female sex; presence of other autoimmune diseases; and possibly use of certain medications, including proton pump inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and statins.
- Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women in the United States. For certain women at high risk for breast cancer, endocrine therapy (ET) can greatly decrease the risk. Tools such as the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (or Gail Model) and the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study risk calculator are available to help identify women at increased risk for breast cancer. Physician awareness of family history, reproductive and lifestyle factors, dense breast tissue, and history of benign proliferative breast disease are important when identifying high-risk women.
- Physician burnout and other forms of occupational distress are a significant problem in modern medicine, especially during the coronavirus disease pandemic, yet few doctors are familiar with the neurobiology that contributes to these problems. Burnout has been linked to changes that reduce a physician’s sense of control over their own practice, undermine connections with patients and colleagues, interfere with work-life integration, and result in uncontrolled stress. Brain research has revealed that uncontrollable stress, but not controllable stress, impairs the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, a recently evolved brain region that provides top-down regulation over thought, action, and emotion.
- Women have the opportunity to meet personal contraceptive goals with convenient, highly reliable, and easily reversible methods. Long-acting reversible contraception represents an increasingly popular option for most women throughout the reproductive lifespan. Nonetheless, many women and their health care providers are challenged by coexisting medical issues. We aim to help clinicians individualize contraception and use shared decision-making to enhance patient satisfaction and continuation with their method.
- Left atrial appendage closure has emerged as a feasible stroke prevention strategy in selected patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. Since its commercial approval in the United States in 2015, the use of percutaneous left atrial appendage closure has witnessed a substantial growth. However, certain issues remain unresolved with the technology. Knowledge of these issues, their significance, and the current and future efforts to resolve them is key for proper informed decision making by physicians and patients.