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  • Epidurals and sciatica

    18 September 2018

    Sciatica is a common musculoskeletal condition associated with considerable pain in the acute stages, but which carries a good long term prognosis. Epidural corticosteroid injections have been used for almost 50 years in this condition, however the evidence from randomised controlled trials is far from conclusive. Although epidural corticosteroid injections may offer some short term pain relief, they offer no medium or long term benefits, either in terms pain, return to work or need for surgery. Their exact role in the place in the management of sciatica in uncertain. But they should certainly not be used until the patient has received a suitable course of simple measures such as analgesia and physiotherapy.

  • Forefoot pathology in rheumatoid arthritis identified with ultrasound may not localise to areas of highest pressure: cohort observations at baseline and twelve months.

    18 September 2018

    BACKGROUND: Plantar pressures are commonly used as clinical measures, especially to determine optimum foot orthotic design. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) high plantar foot pressures have been linked to metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint radiological erosion scores. However, the sensitivity of foot pressure measurement to soft tissue pathology within the foot is unknown. The aim of this study was to observe plantar foot pressures and forefoot soft tissue pathology in patients who have RA. METHODS: A total of 114 patients with established RA (1987 ACR criteria) and 50 healthy volunteers were assessed at baseline. All RA participants returned for reassessment at twelve months. Interface foot-shoe plantar pressures were recorded using an F-Scan® system. The presence of forefoot soft tissue pathology was assessed using a DIASUS musculoskeletal ultrasound (US) system. Chi-square analyses and independent t-tests were used to determine statistical differences between baseline and twelve months. Pearson's correlation coefficient was used to determine interrelationships between soft tissue pathology and foot pressures. RESULTS: At baseline, RA patients had a significantly higher peak foot pressures compared to healthy participants and peak pressures were located in the medial aspect of the forefoot in both groups. In contrast, RA participants had US detectable soft tissue pathology in the lateral aspect of the forefoot. Analysis of person specific data suggests that there are considerable variations over time with more than half the RA cohort having unstable presence of US detectable forefoot soft tissue pathology. Findings also indicated that, over time, changes in US detectable soft tissue pathology are out of phase with changes in foot-shoe interface pressures both temporally and spatially. CONCLUSIONS: We found that US detectable forefoot soft tissue pathology may be unrelated to peak forefoot pressures and suggest that patients with RA may biomechanically adapt to soft tissue forefoot pathology. In addition, we have observed that, in patients with RA, interface foot-shoe pressures and the presence of US detectable forefoot pathology may vary substantially over time. This has implications for clinical strategies that aim to offload peak plantar pressures.

  • Implementation of secondary fracture prevention services after hip fracture: a qualitative study using extended Normalization Process Theory.

    18 September 2018

    BACKGROUND: National and international guidance emphasizes the need for hospitals to have effective secondary fracture prevention services, to reduce the risk of future fractures in hip fracture patients. Variation exists in how hospitals organize these services, and there remain significant gaps in care. No research has systematically explored reasons for this to understand how to successfully implement these services. The objective of this study was to use extended Normalization Process Theory to understand how secondary fracture prevention services can be successfully implemented. METHODS: Forty-three semi-structured interviews were conducted with healthcare professionals involved in delivering secondary fracture prevention within 11 hospitals that receive patients with acute hip fracture in one region in England. These included orthogeriatricians, fracture prevention nurses and service managers. Extended Normalization Process Theory was used to inform study design and analysis. RESULTS: Extended Normalization Process Theory specifies four constructs relating to collective action in service implementation: capacity, potential, capability and contribution. The capacity of healthcare professionals to co-operate and co-ordinate their actions was achieved using dedicated fracture prevention co-ordinators to organize important processes of care. However, participants described effective communication with GPs as challenging. Individual potential and commitment to operationalize services was generally high. Shared commitments were promoted through multi-disciplinary team working, facilitated by fracture prevention co-ordinators. Healthcare professionals had capacity to deliver multiple components of services when co-ordinators 'freed up' time. As key agents in its intervention, fracture prevention coordinators were therefore indispensable to effective implementation. Aside from difficulty of co-ordination with primary care, the intervention was highly workable and easily integrated into practice. Nevertheless, implementation was threatened by under-staffed and under-resourced services, lack of capacity to administer scans and poor patient access. To ensure ongoing service delivery, the contributions of healthcare professionals were shaped by planning, in multi-disciplinary team meetings, the use of clinical databases to identify patients and define the composition of clinical work and monitoring to improve clinical practice. CONCLUSIONS: Findings identify and describe elements needed to implement secondary fracture prevention services successfully. The study highlights the value of Normalization Process Theory to achieve comprehensive understanding of healthcare professionals' experiences in enacting a complex intervention.

  • Genome-wide association and functional studies identify the DOT1L gene to be involved in cartilage thickness and hip osteoarthritis.

    18 September 2018

    Hip osteoarthritis (HOA) is one of the most disabling and common joint disorders with a large genetic component that is, however, still ill-defined. To date, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in osteoarthritis (OA) and specifically in HOA have yielded only few loci, which is partly explained by heterogeneity in the OA definition. Therefore, we here focused on radiographically measured joint-space width (JSW), a proxy for cartilage thickness and an important underlying intermediate trait for HOA. In a GWAS of 6,523 individuals on hip-JSW, we identified the G allele of rs12982744 on chromosome 19p13.3 to be associated with a 5% larger JSW (P = 4.8 × 10(-10)). The association was replicated in 4,442 individuals from three United Kingdom cohorts with an overall meta-analysis P value of 1.1 × 10(-11). The SNP was also strongly associated with a 12% reduced risk for HOA (P = 1 × 10(-4)). The SNP is located in the DOT1L gene, which is an evolutionarily conserved histone methyltransferase, recently identified as a potentially dedicated enzyme for Wnt target-gene activation in leukemia. Immunohistochemical staining of the DOT1L protein in mouse limbs supports a role for DOT1L in chondrogenic differentiation and adult articular cartilage. DOT1L is also expressed in OA articular chondrocytes. Silencing of Dot1l inhibited chondrogenesis in vitro. Dot1l knockdown reduces proteoglycan and collagen content, and mineralization during chondrogenesis. In the ATDC5 chondrogenesis model system, DOT1L interacts with TCF and Wnt signaling. These data are a further step to better understand the role of Wnt-signaling during chondrogenesis and cartilage homeostasis. DOT1L may represent a therapeutic target for OA.

  • Risk of Injury in Royal Air Force Training: Does Sex Really Matter?

    18 September 2018

    Introduction: Musculoskeletal injuries are common during military and other occupational physical training programs. Employers have a duty of care to reduce employees' injury risk, where females tend to be at greater risk than males. However, quantification of principle co-factors influencing the sex-injury association, and their relative importance, remain poorly defined. Injury risk co-factors were investigated during Royal Air Force (RAF) recruit training to inform the strategic prioritization of mitigation strategies. Material and Methods: A cohort of 1,193 (males n = 990 (83%); females n = 203 (17%)) recruits, undertaking Phase-1 military training, were prospectively monitored for injury occurrence. The primary independent variable was sex, and potential confounders (fitness, smoking, anthropometric measures, education attainment) were assessed pre-training. Generalized linear models were used to assess associations between sex and injury. Results: In total, 31% of recruits (28% males; 49% females) presented at least one injury during training. Females had a two-fold greater unadjusted risk of injury during training than males (RR = 1.77; 95% CI 1.49-2.10). After anthropometric, lifestyle and education measures were included in the model, the excess risk decreased by 34%, but the associations continued to be statistically significant. In contrast, when aerobic fitness was adjusted, an inverse association was identified; the injury risk was 40% lower in females compared with males (RR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.42-0.83). Conclusions: Physical fitness was the most important confounder with respect to differences in males' and females' injury risk, rather than sex alone. Mitigation to reduce this risk should, therefore, focus upon physical training, complemented by healthy lifestyle interventions.

  • Development and validation of a clinical prediction model for patient-reported pain and function after primary total knee replacement surgery.

    18 September 2018

    To develop and validate a clinical prediction model of patient-reported pain and function after undergoing total knee replacement (TKR). We used data of 1,649 patients from the Knee Arthroplasty Trial who received primary TKR across 34 centres in the UK. The external validation included 595 patients from Southampton University Hospital, and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (Oxford). The outcome was the Oxford Knee Score (OKS) 12-month after TKR. Pre-operative predictors including patient characteristics and clinical factors were considered. Bootstrap backward linear regression analysis was used. Low pre-operative OKS, living in poor areas, high body mass index, and patient-reported anxiety or depression were associated with worse outcome. The clinical factors associated with worse outcome were worse pre-operative physical status, presence of other conditions affecting mobility and previous knee arthroscopy. Presence of fixed flexion deformity and an absent or damaged pre-operative anterior cruciate ligament (compared with intact) were associated with better outcome. Discrimination and calibration statistics were satisfactory. External validation predicted 21.1% of the variance of outcome. This is the first clinical prediction model for predicting self-reported pain and function 12 months after TKR to be externally validated. It will help to inform to patients regarding expectations of the outcome after knee replacement surgery.

  • Development of a model predicting non-satisfaction 1 year after primary total knee replacement in the UK and transportation to Switzerland.

    18 September 2018

    We aimed to develop a predictive model for non-satisfaction following primary total knee replacement (TKR) and to assess its transportability to another health care system. Data for model development were obtained from two UK tertiary hospitals. Model transportation data were collected from Geneva University Hospitals in Switzerland. Participants were individuals undergoing primary TKR with non-satisfaction with surgery after one year the outcome of interest. Multiple imputation and logistic regression modelling with bootstrap backward selection were used to identify predictors of outcome. Model performance was assessed by discrimination and calibration. 64 (14.2%) patients in the UK and 157 (19.9%) in Geneva were non-satisfied with their TKR. Predictors in the UK cohort were worse pre-operative pain and function, current smoking, treatment for anxiety and not having been treated with injected corticosteroids (corrected AUC = 0.65). Transportation to the Geneva cohort showed an AUC of 0.55. Importantly, two UK predictors (treated for anxiety, injected corticosteroids) were not predictive in Geneva. A better model fit was obtained when coefficients were re-estimated in the Geneva sample (AUC = 0.64). The model did not perform well when transported to a different country, but improved when it was re-estimated. This emphasises the need to re-validate the model for each setting/country.

  • Hydroxychloroquine Effectiveness in Reducing Symptoms of Hand Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Trial.

    18 September 2018

    Background: Synovitis is believed to play a role in producing symptoms in persons with hand osteoarthritis, but data on slow-acting anti-inflammatory treatments are sparse. Objective: To determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine versus placebo as an analgesic treatment of hand osteoarthritis. Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with 12-month follow-up. (ISRCTN registry number: ISRCTN91859104). Setting: 13 primary and secondary care centers in England. Participants: Of 316 patients screened, 248 participants (82% women; mean age, 62.7 years) with symptomatic (pain ≥4 on a 0- to 10-point visual analogue scale) and radiographic hand osteoarthritis were randomly assigned and 210 (84.7%) completed the 6-month primary end point. Intervention: Hydroxychloroquine (200 to 400 mg) or placebo (1:1) for 12 months with ongoing usual care. Measurements: The primary end point was average hand pain during the previous 2 weeks (on a 0- to 10-point numerical rating scale [NRS]) at 6 months. Secondary end points included self-reported pain and function, grip strength, quality of life, radiographic structural change, and adverse events. Baseline ultrasonography was done. Results: At 6 months, mean hand pain was 5.49 points in the placebo group and 5.66 points in the hydroxychloroquine group, with a treatment difference of -0.16 point (95% CI, -0.73 to 0.40 point) (P = 0.57). Results were robust to adjustments for adherence, missing data, and use of rescue medication. No significant treatment differences existed at 3, 6, or 12 months for any secondary outcomes. The percentage of participants with at least 1 joint with synovitis was 94% (134 of 143) on grayscale ultrasonography and 59% on power Doppler. Baseline structural damage or synovitis did not affect treatment response. Fifteen serious adverse events were reported (7 in the hydroxychloroquine group [3 defined as possibly related] and 8 in the placebo group). Limitation: Hydroxychloroquine dosage restrictions may have reduced efficacy. Conclusion: Hydroxychloroquine was no more effective than placebo for pain relief in patients with moderate to severe hand pain and radiographic osteoarthritis. Primary Funding Source: Arthritis Research UK.

  • Primary hip replacement prostheses and their evidence base: systematic review of literature.

    18 September 2018

    OBJECTIVE: To determine the extent to which prostheses with no readily available evidence to support their use are being implanted in primary total hip arthroplasty. DESIGN: Systematic review of the literature. DATA SOURCES: The 9th annual report of the National Joint Registry of England and Wales (NJR) was analysed to identify prostheses with an Orthopaedic Data Evaluation Panel rating of "unclassified" or "pre-entry" used in primary total hip arthroplasty in 2011. A systematic review of those prostheses was carried out using PubMed, Cochrane, Embase, OVID, and Google databases. STUDY SELECTION: Prostheses used in primary total hip arthroplasty as published in the NJR's 9th annual report were analysed. Only literature that included the name of the prosthesis was included. Literature yielded in the search results was excluded if it reported animal, non-orthopaedic, non-total hip arthroplasty, or non-device related studies. RESULTS: The systematic review found that 24% (57/235) of all hip replacement implants available to surgeons in the UK have no evidence for their clinical effectiveness. It also shows that 10,617 (7.8%) of the 136,593 components used in primary hip replacements in 2011 were implanted without readily identifiable evidence of clinical effectiveness. These comprised 157 cemented stems (0.5% of 34,655 implanted), 936 (2.8% of 33,367) uncemented stems, 1732 (7.1% of 24,349) cemented cups, and 7577 (17.1% of 44,222) uncemented cups. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that a considerable proportion of prostheses available to orthopaedic surgeons have no readily available evidence of clinical effectiveness to support their use. Concern exists about the current system of device regulation, and the need for a revised process for introducing new orthopaedic devices is highlighted.

  • The cost-effectiveness of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation: a systematic review of the characteristics and methodological quality of published literature.

    18 September 2018

    AIM: This descriptive review aimed to assess the characteristics and methodological quality of economic evaluations of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs according to updated economic guidelines for healthcare interventions. Recommendations will be made to inform future research addressing the impact of a physical exercise component on cost-effectiveness. METHODS: Electronic databases were searched for economic evaluations of exercise-based CR programs published in English between 2000 and 2014. The Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS) statement was used to review the methodological quality of included economic evaluations. RESULTS: Fifteen economic evaluations met the review inclusion criteria. Assessed study characteristics exhibited wide variability, particularly in their economic perspective, time horizon, setting, comparators and included costs, with significant heterogeneity in exercise dose across interventions. Ten evaluations were based on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) spanning 6-24 months but often with weak or inconclusive results; two were modelling studies; and the final three utilised longer time horizons of 3.5-5 years from which findings suggest that long-term exercise-based CR results in lower costs, reduced hospitalisations and a longer cumulative patient lifetime. None of the 15 articles met all the CHEERS quality criteria, with the majority either fully or partially meeting a selection of the assessed variables. CONCLUSION: Evidence exists supporting the cost-effectiveness of exercise-based CR for cardiovascular disease patients. However, variability in CR program delivery and weak consistency between study perspective and design limits study comparability and therefore the accumulation of evidence in support of a particular exercise regime. The generalisability of study findings was limited due to the exclusion of patients with comorbidities as would typically be found in a real-world setting. The use of longer time-horizons would be more comparable with a chronic condition and enable economic assessments of the long-term effects of CR. As none of the articles met recent reporting standards for the economic assessment of healthcare interventions, it is recommended that future studies adhere to such guidelines.