A 28-year-old woman presenting with subacute onset of a tetraplegia is described who was shown to have active systemic lupus erythematosus in association with high circulating anticardiolipin binding and lupus anticoagulant activity. The patient later developed severe symptomatic systemic and pulmonary hypertension and required emergency resuscitation. This case provides further support for an association between antiphospholipid antibodies and the clinical features of central nervous system (CNS) involvement and pulmonary hypertension in SLE.
Pulmonary hypertension in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in the absence of chronic parenchymal lung disease or pulmonary emboli is rare. We report such a case with an acute and rapidly progressive onset of symptoms in a patient who had started taking the contraceptive pill eight months previously.,The doctrine of double effect (DDE) is a principle of crucial importance in law and medicine. In medicine, the principle is generally accepted to apply in cases where the treatment necessary to relieve pain and physical suffering runs the risk of hastening the patient’s death. More controversially, it has also been used as a justification for withdrawal of treatment from living individuals and physician-assisted suicide. In this paper, I will critique the findings of the controversial Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing Syme vs the Medical Board of Australia. In that hearing, Dr Rodney Syme, a urologist and euthanasia advocate, was defending his practice of prescribing barbiturates to terminally ill patients. Syme claimed that he prescribed the drugs with the intention of relieving their existential suffering and not to assist in suicide; he argued that the DDE could be applied. Pace VCAT, I argue that this is an illegitimate application of DDE. I argue that a close scrutiny of Syme’s actions reveals that, at the very least, he intended to give patients the option of suicide. He furthermore used what on a traditional definition of DDE would be considered a ‘bad’ means—the prescription of Nembutal—to achieve a ‘good’ end—the relief of suffering. The case demonstrates the crucial importance of analysing an agent’s ‘intention’ and the ‘effects’ of their actions when applying DDE. Ethicists and, indeed, the judiciary need to attend to the ethical complexities of DDE when they assess the applicability of DDE to end of life care. If they fail to do this, the doctrine risks losing its legitimacy as an ethical principle.
The transcription of genes could be defined as the intricate molecular manoeuvres occurring in the nuclei of cells, which allow the translation of genetic information held in the DNA into the proteins required for life. Gene transcription is the dominant control point in the production of any protein, and is initiated and regulated through the combined activities of a highly specialised set of nuclear proteins. This review examines the role of these protein “transcription factors” in the production of messenger RNA, the information intermediary produced in the nucleus, and transferred to the cytoplasm to serve as a template for protein synthesis. In combination with RNA polymerase, an extraordinary and complex enzyme required to synthesise new RNA molecules, a multitude of transcription factors combine their activities to orchestrate and control this elegant process.,Approximately 10% of melanoma cases report a relative affected with melanoma, and a positive family history is associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma. Although the majority of genetic alterations associated with melanoma development are somatic, the underlying presence of heritable melanoma risk genes is an important component of disease occurrence. Susceptibility for some families is due to mutation in one of the known high penetrance melanoma predisposition genes: CDKN2A, CDK4, BAP1, POT1, ACD, TERF2IP and TERT. However, despite such mutations being implicated in a combined total of approximately 50% of familial melanoma cases, the underlying genetic basis is unexplained for the remainder of high-density melanoma families. Aside from the possibility of extremely rare mutations in a few additional high penetrance genes yet to be discovered, this suggests a likely polygenic component to susceptibility, and a unique level of personal melanoma risk influenced by multiple low-risk alleles and genetic modifiers. In addition to conferring a risk of cutaneous melanoma, some ‘melanoma’ predisposition genes have been linked to other cancers, with cancer clustering observed in melanoma families at rates greater than expected by chance. The most extensively documented association is between CDKN2A germ line mutations and pancreatic cancer, and a cancer syndrome including cutaneous melanoma, uveal melanoma and mesothelioma has been proposed for BAP1 germ line mutations. Other medium to high penetrance melanoma predisposition genes have been associated with renal cell carcinoma (MITF, BAP1) and glioma (POT1). These associations between melanoma and other cancers hint at the possibility of common pathways for oncogenesis, and better knowledge of these pathways may improve understanding of the genetic basis underpinning familial melanoma. It is likely that ‘melanoma’ risk genes will impact on mutation screening and genetic counselling not only for melanoma but also a range of other cancers.,The main problems in identifying Treponema pallidum in tissues are optical definition contrast, and specificity. In general, fluorochrome staining provides optical definition and contrast superior to that obtained by ordinary tinctorial staining, and in theory improved resolution. Specificity is lacking however, as with other stains. In contrast, immunofluorescence should combine the optical advantages of fluorochrome staining with the immunological advantages of specificity. Since the validity of such staining depends in part upon the integrity of the antigenic components of the micro-organisms, it is customary to avoid such drastic procedures as are involved in routine fixation and paraffin embedding. The manipulation, however, of unfixed cryostat material, in contrast with that of paraffin sections suffers from two disadvantagesnamely, friability and infectivity. Published and unpublished work has shown antigenic stability in T. pallidum to a variety of procedures, both physical and chemical. Consideration of these facts led in this work to successful immunofluorescent staining after routine formalin fixation and paraffin embedding of tissues infected with T. pallidum or Treponema pertenue. Optical definition and contrast, were superior to that obtained with silver methods, but it was not possible to differentiate between these two organisms. Nevertheless immunofluorescence applied as described to paraffin sections should supply a convenient safe, and sensitive means of reappraising the histopathology of treponemal disease in patients, necropsy material, and experimental animals.
The development of pulmonary hypertension is a poor prognostic sign in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), affecting both mortality and quality of life. Although pulmonary hypertension in COPD is traditionally viewed as a result of emphysematous destruction of the vascular bed and/or hypoxia, recent studies indicate that neither of these factors correlates very well with pulmonary artery pressures. New human and animal experimental data are beginning to show that pulmonary hypertension in this setting is probably a result of the direct effect of tobacco smoke on the intrapulmonary vessels with abnormal production of mediators that control vasoconstriction, vasodilatation, and vascular cell proliferation, ultimately leading to aberrant vascular remodelling and aberrant vascular physiology. These changes are in many ways similar to those seen in other forms of pulmonary hypertension and suggest that the treatments used for primary pulmonary hypertension may be beneficial in patients with COPD.
Doppler ultrasound examination was performed in 69 patients with a variety of cardiopulmonary disorders who were undergoing bedside right heart catheterization. Patients were classified into two groups on the basis of hemodynamic findings. Group I consisted of 20 patients whose pulmonary artery systolic pressure was less than 35 mm Hg and Group II consisted of 49 patients whose pulmonary artery systolic pressure was 35 mm Hg or greater. Tricuspid regurgitation was detected by Doppler ultrasound in 2 of 20 Group I patients and 39 of 49 Group II patients (p < 0.001). Twenty-six of 27 patients with pulmonary artery systolic pressure greater than 50 mm Hg had Doppler evidence of tricuspid regurgitation. In patients with tricuspid regurgitation, continuous wave Doppler ultrasound was used to measure the velocity of the regurgitant jet, and by applying the Bernoulli equation, the peak pressure gradient between the right ventricle and right atrium was calculated. There was a close correlation between the Doppler gradient and the pulmonary artery systolic pressure measured by cardiac catheterization (r = 0.97, standard error of the estimate = 4.9 mm Hg). Estimating the right atrial pressure clinically and adding it to the Doppler-determined right ventricular to right atrial pressure gradient was not necessary to achieve accurate results. These findings indicate that tricuspid regurgitation can be identified by Doppler ultrasound in a large proportion of patients with pulmonary hypertension, especially when the pulmonary artery pressure exceeds 50 mm Hg. Calculation of the right ventricular to right atrial pressure gradient in these patients provides an accurate noninvasive estimate of pulmonary artery systolic pressure.
Some infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia who die after surgical correction have a transient postoperative period during which systemic oxygenation is adequate (honeymoon period), whereas others have persistent hypoxemia. Using morphometric techniques, we analyzed lung structure, especially the arterial bed, in seven infants who died within 1 week of surgical repair. Three infants comprised the honeymoon group, the PaO transiently being >150 mm Hg in the descending aorta (FiO 1.0): four infants comprised the no-honeymoon group and never had PaO >85 mm Hg. All lungs were hypoplastic for age; with one exception, infants in the no-honeymoon group had smaller lungs. Arterial structure in the no-honeymoon group contributed to a greater reduction in pulmonary arterial cross-sectional area. Each infant in the no-honeymoon group had muscularization of intra-acinar arteries and failure of perinatal increase in compliance of small preacinar arteries, features not seen in the honeymoon group or in the normal newborn infant. In addition, compared with the honeymoon group, luminal area of preacinar and intra-acinar arteries in the no-honeymoon group was decreased by reduced external diameter or increased medial thickness. Clinical deterioration in the honeymoon group is based on a vasoconstrictive response of the hypoplastic vascular bed. Persistent hypoxemia in the no-honeymoon group is based on both severity of pulmonary hypoplasia and structural remodeling of the pulmonary arteries.
Thirty patients with 33 mitral or aortic prostheses or both were examined using the pulsed Doppler technique combined with cross sectional echocardiography to study the applicability of the Doppler technique in the diagnosis and evaluation of the severity of prosthetic dysfunction and to assess the ability of the mapping procedure to estimate the site and the size of the prosthetic defect. The dysfunction was valvar regurgitation in 29 instances and stenoses in eight, all of which were confirmed by invasive procedures. The severity of the dysfunction was graded on a three point scale. A control group of 73 subjects with 88 normal prostheses also underwent pulsed Doppler and cross sectional echocardiography. The pulsed Doppler study followed the usual procedure for a valvar disease including two and three dimensional mapping for regurgitation. Eight patients also underwent a continuous wave Doppler examination. The diagnostic reliability of the pulsed Doppler technique was greater than or equal to 90%. The severity of the dysfunction was accurately assessed in 86% of cases. In the case of aortic regurgitation, mapping of the jets was performed as easily for prostheses as for native regurgitant valves. In the case of mitral regurgitation, the mapping patterns depended on the cause of the dysfunction. With valvar tears, a jet was detected at the centre of the annulus, and with paravalvar leaks eccentric atrial jets were seen opposite the site of the leak. The pulsed Doppler and the surgical findings correlated well for both the site of the dysfunction (16/20 (80%) patients) and the size of the leak (13/16 (81%) patients). Thus, despite some limitations, pulsed Doppler and particularly the mapping procedure provide sufficient information to give an accurate non-invasive assessment of prosthetic valve dysfunction.