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Referral Criteria for Non-Emergent Spinal Symptoms in the Neck and Low Back: A Survey of Canadian Spine Surgeons

Teaser: 

Yoga Raja Rampersaud, MD, FRCSC,1 Dr. Hamilton Hall, MD, FRCSC,2

1Associate Professor Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Divisions of Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery University Health Network Medical Director, Back and Neck Specialty Program, Altum Health, Past President Canadian Spine Society.
2is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. He is the Medical Director, CBI Health Group and Executive Director of the Canadian Spine Society in Toronto, Ontario.

CLINICAL TOOLS

Abstract: The majority of the patients referred for surgical consultation are not candidates for surgery. Appropriate operative candidates endure unnecessary and potentially detrimental delays in obtaining their surgery while the rest waste time waiting to be told that surgery is not the answer. The Canadian Spine Society surveyed its membership to establish a set of practical surgical referral recommendations for non-emergent spinal problems. The results support referrals of patients with leg or arm dominant pain but, in the absence of a significant structural abnormality, discourage referring patients with neck or back dominant symptoms.
Key Words: spine surgery, indications, referral, clinical presentations, non-emergent.

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www.cfpc.ca/Mainpro_M2

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There is no universally acceptable ideal candidate, absolute indication or unqualified contraindication for elective spinal surgery.
Referral is recommended most often for patients who have constant arm or leg dominant pain.
Patients who have untreated neck or back dominant pain are not appropriate surgical referrals.
Surgeons insistence on an image or refusal to see a suitable patient who rejects surgery reflect the excessive demand on their time, which can be relieved with proper referral.
The recommendation for referral is highest when the patient has had aappropriate non-operative treatment: well supervised physical therapy, suitable medication, effective education and successful lifestyle modification.
Spine related arm and leg dominant pain are usually the result of specific nerve root pathologies and therefore are more likely amenable to surgical intervention than back or neck pain which are generally multifactorial.
Patients with disabling or progressive neurological deficits should be referred early; patients with little or no pain and with no functional limitation related to the neurological deficit are not recommended for referral.
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Diagnostic Radiology in Low Back Pain

Diagnostic Radiology in Low Back Pain

Teaser: 

Dr. Ted Findlay, D.O., CCFP,1 Amar Suchak, MD, FRCP(C),2

1Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Private Family Medicine practice, Medical Staff, Alberta Health Services, Calgary Zone, Calgary, Alberta.
2Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Radiology, Department of Nuclear Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.

CLINICAL TOOLS

Abstract: Many clinicians believe that imaging is necessary to accurately diagnose and manage low back pain. However, there is good evidence that in the absence of "Red Flags", there is an overuse of both routine X-rays and advanced diagnostic imaging such as MRI. When imaging is used without appropriate clinical indications, it is rare for the results to lead to a change in a treatment plan. Management is based on adequate history and confirmatory physical examination. This article uses three actual cases as the basis for exploring the place of diagnostic imaging in treating low back pain.
Key Words: low back pain, diagnosis, radiology, indications, appropriate.

Members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada may claim MAINPRO-M2 Credits for this unaccredited educational program.

www.cfpc.ca/Mainpro_M2

You can take quizzes without subscribing; however, your results will not be stored. Subscribers will have access to their quiz results for future reference.

1. While imaging may be required in the management of specific cases of low back pain particularly when "Red Flags" are present, it is rare that unexpected findings will result in a change of the treatment plan.
2. Be very cautious about the terminology used to describe the results of imaging studies and whenever possible normalize the results for the patient. Many abnormal findings may be "normal" for patients in older age groups. Many may be present in patients who are pain free.
3. Ensure that the patient understands that the results of the images are not necessarily a barrier to recovery.
4. Except to establish the boney contours of the spine, when advanced imaging is required an MRI examination is often the preferred option.
5. Be very cautious about attributing the cause of a patient's pain to the results found on imaging. Careful correlation with the clinical presentation is required before deciding on any change in treatment.
In the absence of clinical "Red Flags", there is no indication to image the spine before initiating treatment.
It is never appropriate to delay treatment for mechanical low back pain to wait for an imaging procedure.
Prepare the patient, before advanced imaging is performed, that there is a very high likelihood that the investigation will find "abnormalities" but that these changes are usually the result of natural aging and no cause for concern.
To have access to full article that these tools were developed for, please subscribe. The cost to subscribe is only $20 USD per year and you will gain full access to all the premium content on www.healthplexus.net, an educational portal, that hosts 1000s of clinical reviews, case studies, educational visual aids and more as well as within the mobile app.

Indications for Rehabilitation in Acute Low Back Pain: Making a Correct Referral

Indications for Rehabilitation in Acute Low Back Pain: Making a Correct Referral

Members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada may claim MAINPRO-M2 Credits for this unaccredited educational program.

www.cfpc.ca/Mainpro_M2
Teaser: 

Dr. Julia Alleyne, BHSc(PT), MD, CCFP, Dip. Sport Med MScCH, is a Family Physician practising Sport and Exercise Medicine at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network. In addition, she trained as a physiotherapist and maintained an active license for 30 years. She is appointed at the University of Toronto, Department of Family and Community Medicine as an Associate Clinical Professor.

Greg McIntosh, MSc, completed his Masters in Epidemiology from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. He is currently the Director of Clinical Research for CBI Health Group and research consultant to the Canadian Spine Society.

Abstract
This article helps clinicians decide on appropriate referral to rehabilitation professionals while answering some of the common questions that clinicians are often asked by low back patients. The evidence for appropriate rehabilitation techniques will be interwoven into this article to promote a critical appraisal approach to evaluating rehabilitation outcomes. At the conclusion of this paper, clinicians should be able to identify best practices for rehabilitation referral.
Key Words: Low back pain, indications, rehabilitation, inter-professional referral.

Liver Transplantation in the Elderly: Indications and Outcomes

Liver Transplantation in the Elderly: Indications and Outcomes

Teaser: 

 

Douglas Thorburn, MD, MRCP and Paul J. Marotta, MD, FRCPC, Multi-Organ Transplant Unit, London Health Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.

Liver transplantation improves survival for selected patients with chronic liver disease, fulminant hepatic failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. There is no absolute upper age limit for liver transplantation and the proportion of patients undergoing liver transplantation who are older than 60 years is increasing. Although the indications for liver transplantation in elderly patients do not differ from those in younger patients, the prevalence of comorbidities that are contraindications to liver transplantation are higher among the elderly. Outcomes after transplantation for selected patients over 60 years of age with Child-Pugh class B cirrhosis who are well nourished and at home are comparable to those for younger patients.
Key words: liver transplantation, fulminant hepatic failure, hepatocellular carcinoma, indications.