eLetters

327 e-Letters

  • Paradoxical reactions in neurotuberculosis – what is the optimal management?

    Sindgikar et al. report a severe paradoxical reaction in a 15-year-old HIV-uninfected patient with stage III tuberculous meningitis, during her fifth month of treatment. After improving with re-initiation of corticosteroids, the paradoxical reaction worsened after the prednisolone was weaned over 8 weeks. The patient continued 4 months of corticosteroids in addition to 13 months anti-TB treatment (ATT) with significant morbidity at one year follow up, including permanent disability.

    Whilst corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for paradoxical reactions, their effectiveness for this difficult-to-treat complication has not been assessed in randomised controlled trials (RCT)(1). TNF-alpha is a key cytokine implicated in the exaggerated inflammatory response underlying paradoxical reactions (2,3). We have used infliximab, a monoclonal antibody targeting TNF-alpha, in the management of severe paradoxical reactions in paediatric central nervous system TB with positive outcomes (4,5). Anti-TNFα monoclonal antibodies, including infliximab, have also been used with encouraging results in adults for this indication (6,7). Thalidomide, another anti-TNF-alpha therapy was evaluated in an RCT of children with stage II and III tuberculous meningitis (8), however, this trial was ceased early due to increased deaths and adverse outcomes with a thalidomide dose of 24 mg/kg/day. A subsequent case series of 38 children treated with low-dose thalidomide (3-5 mg/kg) with life-th...

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  • Tasers and Heart Block

    Dear Editor,

    A taser is a weapon used by police in order to provide a safe means of subduing an uncooperative person via an “electric shock”. This handheld device features two small barbed darts designed to puncture the skin. These darts are connected via copper wires to a main unit which delivers an electric current to the individual causing neuromuscular incapacitation by disrupting the voluntary control of muscles(1). A number of studies have raised concern over the health risks of tasers, including ventricular arrhythmias and cardiac arrest(2). Something I have come across during my training was a case of complete heart block provoked by a taser discharge. This phenomenon is not frequently described in the literature.

    The patient in question had cardiac arrest immediately after receiving a discharge from a taser during an altercation with police. Thankfully, he was given bystander CPR and had return of spontaneous circulation after 3 minutes. On presentation to the Emergency Department the patient was found to be in complete heart block. He was admitted acutely to the coronary care unit for monitoring and had a permanent pacemaker inserted three days later.

    The taser is considered a non-lethal weapon but can it truly be considered such?

    Since it is not thought of as a firearm, taser use is not regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The main objective of this article is not to comment on the propriety of taser...

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  • Update

    Active TB globally affects over 10 million people each year and accounts for approximately 1.6 million deaths. Since publishing this case report we since have learned that IGRA blood tests are not entirely useful in diagnosing active TB, as IGRA will also pick up cases of latent TB.
    Presently, the most useful microbiological method of diagnosis is now widely recognised as the Gene Xpert or Gene Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra, a rapid molecular test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis and rifampicin resistance which can be performed on sputum, pleural fluid or CSF. Access to this technology has been widely scaled up in recent years as part of the WHO End TB Strategy and most countries are switching from traditional AFB smears to rapid molecular testing due to reduced costs and demand on laboratory facilities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has also redirected human, diagnostic and financial resources elsewhere and modelling predicts a regression in TB control and increase in mortality from 13% in 2020 to 20% in 2025.

  • Author's response to e-letter "Therapeutic strategy of Malignant glioma and the fetal-maternal wellbeing”

    Thank you very much for your letter on our published case report of a pregnant woman that was diagnosed with a left parietal glioma in the 28th gestational week after a first generalised seizure, and for your opinion and thorough review of the literature.

    In our patient we performed a two-stage approach with first a tumour resection under general anaesthesia and preservation of the pregnancy and after caesarean section performed in the 37th gestational week an awake craniotomy for resection of residual tumour under neuropsychological monitoring and mapping.

    We decided to do a two-stage approach after a round table where obstetricians, neurosurgeons, anesthetists, neonatologists, and midwives were involved and after several long conversations with the patient and her husband. For the patient clearly the health of her unborn child was the most important aspect of her treatment and therefore she wanted to prolong the pregnancy until term. The tumor of our patient was located with a broad base to the surface and seemed to have a plane to the underlying white matter. There was no, in this location possible eloquent, unaffected cortex overlying the tumor. Moreover, our patient was already in the 28th gestational week of her pregnancy, the uterine fundus was high and the abdomen extended. The use of cortical or subcortical electric stimulation does increase the seizure risk1-4. Because of all these reasons we decided aga...

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  • Do emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants cause early and greater immunosuppression which may contribute to co-infection with mucormycosis?

    Dear Editor,
    This case report presents a very important accompaniment of COVID-19 illness which has currently raised up to epidemic scale in India (1). There is sound empirical evidence that unsupervised use of steroids, uncontrolled blood sugar and existing immunosuppression in COVID-19 may predispose the patients to the opportunistic mucormycosis infection (2,3). Surprisingly, co-infection with mucormycosis were rarely reported during the first wave in India, although the pandemic had spread extensively in the country. There is a possibility that sudden and massive increase in the number of cases and consequently collapsing of the health system in the country may have contributed in the rise of mucormycosis cases in various ways, including multiple iatrogenic causes, such as no proper sterilization of the medical equipment and the hospital wards. Wearing unclean face masks carrying fungal spores and other unhygienic practices might have also contributed in rise of the cases (4). However, no significant reporting of mucormycosis cases during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic poses some valid questions, whether the newer SARS-CoV-2 variants, particularly that of B.1.617 lineage which are being suggested as the driver of the second wave in India (5), are causing greater and/or early immunosuppression than the wild strain. Emerging evidence suggest that the new SARS-CoV-2 strains, including that of B.1.617 lineage, may have increased virulence (6,7). Although, certai...

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  • Professor

    Do emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants cause early and greater immunosuppression which may contribute to co-infection with mucormycosis?

    Dear Editor,
    This case report presents a very important accompaniment of COVID-19 illness which has currently raised up to epidemic scale in India (1). There is sound empirical evidence that unsupervised use of steroids, uncontrolled blood sugar and existing immunosuppression in COVID-19 may predispose the patients to the opportunistic mucormycosis infection (2,3). Surprisingly, co-infection with mucormycosis were rarely reported during the first wave in India, although the pandemic had spread extensively in the country. There is a possibility that sudden and massive increase in the number of cases and consequently collapsing of the health system in the country may have contributed in the rise of mucormycosis cases in various ways, including multiple iatrogenic causes, such as no proper sterilization of the medical equipment and the hospital wards. Wearing unclean face masks carrying fungal spores and other unhygienic practices might have also contributed in rise of the cases (4). However, no significant reporting of mucormycosis cases during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic poses some valid questions, whether the newer SARS-CoV-2 variants, particularly that of B.1.617 lineage which are being suggested as the driver of the second wave in India (5), are causing greater and/or early immunosuppression than the wild strain. Emerging...

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  • Rate of incidence...

    The data that is represented in footnote 21 (rate of 6 in 42,000 vs. the rate of .08 - 1.1 in 100,000) is significant. It represents approximately a 1 in 7,000 rate! I think that this is worth highlighting in a separate article.

  • Response from authors

    The association between heart failure and energy drink consumption is based on the entire clinical course rather than the presentation alone. The patient remains in renal failure with renal biochemistry similar to presentation and has not received renal replacement therapy for some time. Despite this, the patient is no longer in heart failure with a significant improvement in cardiac function occurring prior to the introduction of heart failure medications - carvedilol, hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrite. The clinical course of spontaneous recovery was similar to the cited case report from Belzile and colleagues and hence our reason for bringing this to attention and contributing to greater awareness. We welcome the comments and debate as there is no test to confirm the relationship to energy drink intake and therefore extensive clinical characterisation is required to exclude alternative causes of severe heart failure. Severe heart failure which improves spontaneously to this magnitude - LVEF 9% to 51% is particularly rare.

  • Response from authors

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Thank you for your comments

    Please see below for clarification to your queries:

    1) What was Central Venous Pressure:

    The CVP pressure was not measured as the patient was relatively well. Are you perhaps referring to JVP which was unremarkable.

    2) If patient was, presumably Conscious, Oriented, able to take Food and Fluids by Mouth, could the Intravenous Administration of Fluids be avoided?

    It is possible that IV fluids could have been avoided but in view of his AKI it was felt prudent to rehydrate with IV fluids. We appreciate that management in this scenario will differ.

    3) How did the Elevated Blood Pressure evolved during Hospitalization, either with or without Medications.

    He had only one dose of amlodipine as inpatient and didn’t require any further doses for BP control. On discharge his Blood pressure was within normal limits and his GP was advised to continue monitoring his blood pressure as he had previously been doing.

    4) What was Patient's Diet and Fluid Intake Both Quantitative and Qualitative during the Hospitalization?

    AKI resolved within 24 hours of admission so exact fluid intake, urinary output and diet were not documented.

    5) Whether the Patient took any Formal or Alternative Medicines or Home Remedies for Coryza he had Two Weeks before Episode of Shortness of Breath, that could have caused Autoimmune Hemolysis?

    The patient had not...

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  • Therapeutic strategy of Malignant glioma and the fetal-maternal wellbeing

    Dear Dr. Biswas,
    In their recent article ‘Anaplastic astrocytoma during pregnancy: the importance of an effective multidisciplinary approach’, Filippi and colleagues described the therapeutic strategy for a pregnant patient whose left parietal glioma was discovered after a new-onset generalized seizure [1]. Following the multidisciplinary conference, they planned to attain a full-term pregnancy with staged tumor resection. First, the mass reduction was performed with neuronavigation and fluorescence-guided surgery using 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) under general anesthesia. Then awake craniotomy was planned for the residual tumor removal after delivery. Although the authors have provided excellent perioperative care for this complicated case, we have some reservations about the therapeutic strategy for malignant glioma in a pregnant patient.
    The guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of gliomas, released by the European Association for Neuro-Oncology, present the following management options for newly diagnosed malignant glioma: resection or biopsy, followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy (or combined modality treatment) [2]. In pregnant patients, the neurosurgical intervention for a malignant tumor is recommended regardless of gestational age, although the 32 week gestation point is generally used as the cutoff [3]. The extent of glioma resection is a decisive prognosis factor irrespective of tumor subtype [4]. In view of the absence of information on th...

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