• Appropriateness of laboratory tests: requests for atypical pneumonia serology in a teaching hospital.

      Jackson, L M; Shanahan, F; Cryan, B; Bredin, C P; Cronin, C C; Department of Medicine, Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Ireland. (2012-02-03)
      The cost of providing medical care is ever-increasing but the resources available are at best static. Major savings can be made by reducing inappropriate investigations. Using serological testing for organisms causing atypical pneumonia as an example, we examined the appropriateness of requests and also physicians' understanding of the test. Of 119 patients tested, only 3 had titres indicative of acute infection. Most patients were tested within 2 days of hospital admission, before receipt of results excluding more likely diagnoses. Forty-five patients had no current or recent respiratory symptoms, in whom infection was highly unlikely. Titres were most often requested by the least experienced members of the clinical team. Of 70 patients with an acute illness in whom a definitive diagnosis, bacteriological or otherwise, was not made, in only 9 was a convalescent specimen sent for follow-up titres. Most requests for serology for organisms causing atypical pneumonia were inappropriate. Furthermore, in the majority of cases the test was incorrectly used.
    • Coeliac disease and epilepsy.

      Cronin, C C; Jackson, L M; Feighery, C; Shanahan, F; Abuzakouk, M; Ryder, D Q; Whelton, M; Callaghan, N; Department of Medicine, Cork University Hospital, Ireland. (2012-02-03)
      Whether there is an association between coeliac disease and epilepsy is uncertain. Recently, a syndrome of coeliac disease, occipital lobe epilepsy and cerebral calcification has been described, mostly in Italy. We measured the prevalence of coeliac disease in patients attending a seizure clinic, and investigated whether cerebral calcification occurred in patients with both coeliac disease and epilepsy. Screening for coeliac disease was by IgA endomysial antibody, measured by indirect immunofluorescence using sections of human umbilical cord. Of 177 patients screened, four patients were positive. All had small-bowel histology typical of coeliac disease. The overall frequency of coeliac disease in this mixed patient sample was 1 in 44. In a control group of 488 pregnant patients, two serum samples were positive (1 in 244). Sixteen patients with both coeliac disease and epilepsy, who had previously attended this hospital, were identified. No patient had cerebral calcification on CT scanning. Coeliac disease appears to occur with increased frequency in patients with epilepsy, and a high index of suspicion should be maintained. Cerebral calcification is not a feature of our patients with epilepsy and coeliac disease, and may be an ethnically-or geographically-restricted finding.