342 e-Letters

  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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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  • 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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  • More to investigate and more to treat

    We read the article published by Jaikaran O. et al on ‘Portomesenteric thrombosis after robotic sleeve gastrectomy’ with great interest. The reported about a morbid obese patient having porto-mesentric thrombosis after robotic sleeve gastrectomy due to obesity and mutation in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) mutation. However, we have few factors to report on this aspect.

    Firstly, MTHFR enzyme dysfunction leads to hyperhomocysteinemia which leads to hypercoagulation state. Yet, the magnitude of this state is affected via degree of enzyme deficiency/dysfunction which is dependent on presence of heterogeneous/ homogenous mutation in enzyme gene. So, the authors must assess for the presence of hyperhomocysteinemia along with assessment of mutation.[1,2] Also the genetic homogeneity of the mutation must be assessed as heterogeneous mutation will have less effect on blood homocysteine levels.[3]

    Next, the importance of folic acid for management of thrombotic state due to hyperhomocysteinemia must be considered. The patient has undergone sleeve gastrectomy which may further aggravate her vitamin and micronutrient deficiency. The administration of folic acid (instead of aspirin) will decrease the blood homocysteine levels and reduce the risk of hypercoagulation.[4]

    1. Friso S, Girelli D, Trabetti E, Stranieri C, Olivieri O, Tinazzi E, Martinelli N, Faccini G, Pignatti PF, Corrocher R. A1298C methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase mu...

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  • 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.

  • Treat all Caffeinated Beverages Equally

    The authors implicate caffeine as the causative agent of the cardiomyopathy in this case, caffeine being the main active ingredient within energy drinks. They ask that we enquire about energy drinks within our social histories; consumption of caffeinated products indeed not part of a standard cardiovascular history (1).

    It is therefore conspicuous that within the article there are no calls to enquire about other, more widely used caffeine containing products, specifically tea and coffee. Dare I say, we would be unlikely to baulk at the idea of a patient drinking three or four coffees in a day. In fact, on the wards we offer patients tea or coffee eight times a day, yet think little of the caffeine burden we are imposing upon them. This almost tacit caffeine consumption is unlikely to make it into the medical notes, yet these patients would potentially be consuming levels of caffeine far in excess of the quantity consumed in this case report.

    We seem to apply different value judgements to different drinks, assuming those drinking excess caffeine from expensive coffee machines are doing so knowingly, and as part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet we don’t afford those choosing to consume energy drinks with the same level of ability to make an informed choice. We medicalise the consumption of such drinks, assuming those using them must be doing so for sinister reasons.

    We should treat all caffeinated products equally, given there is no pharmacological differen...

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  • 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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  • Diagnosis, Plausible but Difficult to Establish.

    Some more information will make the Case Presentation more Illuminating and Educative, such as:
    1) What was Central Venous Pressure,
    2) If patient was, presumably Conscious, Oriented, Able to take Food and Fluids by Mouth, could the Intravenous Administration of Fluids be avoided,
    3) How did the Elevated Blood Pressure evolved during Hospitalization, either with or without Medications,
    4) What was Patient's Diet and Fluid Intake Both Quantitative and Qualitative during the Hospitalization,
    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.
    5) If the Patient's Blood Pressure before Present Illnesses was known and if he took any medications for it and any other conditions eg Bleeding per Rectum,
    6) What were the instructions including those regarding medications diet and follow-up given to the Patient at the time of Discharge.
    The Authors need to be complimented for seeing the patient through the crisis and The BMJ be thanked for bringing it up to the Readers.