Quality assessment of expert answers to lay questions about cystic fibrosis from various language zones in Europe: the ECORN-CF project
Kris De Boeck
Thomas Otto Friedrich Wagner
Helge Uwe Hebestreit
- Background: The European Centres of Reference Network for Cystic Fibrosis (ECORN-CF) established an Internet forum which provides the opportunity for CF patients and other interested people to ask experts questions about CF in their mother language. The objectives of this study were to: 1. develop a detailed quality assessment tool to analyze quality of expert answers, 2. evaluate the intra- and inter-rater agreement of this tool, and 3. explore changes in the quality of expert answers over the time frame of the project.
Methods: The quality assessment tool was developed by an expert panel. Five experts within the ECORN-CF project used the quality assessment tool to analyze the quality of 108 expert answers published on ECORN-CF from six language zones. 25 expert answers were scored at two time points, one year apart. Quality of answers was also assessed at an early and later period of the project. Individual rater scores and group mean scores were analyzed for each expert answer.
Results: A scoring system and training manual were developed analyzing two quality categories of answers: content and formal quality. For content quality, the grades based on group mean scores for all raters showed substantial agreement between two time points, however this was not the case for the grades based on individual rater scores. For formal quality the grades based on group mean scores showed only slight agreement between two time points and there was also poor agreement between time points for the individual grades. The inter-rater agreement for content quality was fair (mean kappa value 0.232+/-0.036, p<0.001) while only slight agreement was observed for the grades of the formal quality (mean kappa value 0.105+/-0.024, p<0.001). The quality of expert answers was rated high (four language zones) or satisfactory (two language zones) and did not change over time.
Conclusions: The quality assessment tool described in this study was feasible and reliable when content quality was assessed by a group of raters. Within ECORN-CF, the tool will help ensure that CF patients all over Europe have equal possibility of access to high quality expert advice on their illness.
Descending aortic calcification increases renal dysfunction and in-hospital mortality in cardiac surgery patients with intraaortic balloon pump counterpulsation placed perioperatively: a case control study
James D. Rawn
Prem S. Shekar
Tobias Michael Bingold
Holger K. Eltzschig
Stanton K Shernan
- Introduction: Acute kidney injury (AKI) after cardiac surgery increases length of hospital stay and in-hospital mortality. A significant number of patients undergoing cardiac surgical procedures require perioperative intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) support. Use of an IABP has been linked to an increased incidence of perioperative renal dysfunction and death. This might be due to dislodgement of atherosclerotic material in the descending thoracic aorta (DTA). Therefore, we retrospectively studied the correlation between DTA atheroma, AKI and in-hospital mortality.
Methods: A total of 454 patients were retrospectively matched to one of four groups: -IABP/-DTA atheroma, +IABP/-DTA atheroma, -IABP/+DTA atheroma, +IABP/+DTA atheroma. Patients were then matched according to presence/absence of DTA atheroma, presence/absence of IABP, performed surgical procedure, age, gender and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). DTA atheroma was assessed through standard transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) imaging studies of the descending thoracic aorta.
Results: Basic patient characteristics, except for age and gender, did not differ between groups. Perioperative AKI in patients with -DTA atheroma/+IABP was 5.1% versus 1.7% in patients with -DTA atheroma/-IABP. In patients with +DTA atheroma/+IABP the incidence of AKI was 12.6% versus 5.1% in patients with +DTA atheroma/-IABP. In-hospital mortality in patients with +DTA atheroma/-IABP was 3.4% versus 8.4% with +DTA atheroma/+IABP. In patients with +DTA atheroma/+IABP in hospital mortality was 20.2% versus 6.4% with +DTA atheroma/-IABP. Multivariate logistic regression identified DTA atheroma > 1 mm (P = *0.002, odds ratio (OR) = 4.13, confidence interval (CI) = 1.66 to 10.30), as well as IABP support (P = *0.015, OR = 3.04, CI = 1.24 to 7.45) as independent predictors of perioperative AKI and increased in-hospital mortality. DTA atheroma in conjunction with IABP significantly increased the risk of developing acute kidney injury (P = 0.0016) and in-hospital mortality (P = 0.0001) when compared to control subjects without IABP and without DTA atheroma.
Conclusions: Perioperative IABP and DTA atheroma are independent predictors of perioperative AKI and in-hospital mortality. Whether adding an IABP in patients with severe DTA calcification increases their risk of developing AKI and mortality postoperatively cannot be clearly answered in this study. Nevertheless, when IABP and DTA are combined, patients are more likely to develop AKI and to die postoperatively in comparison to patients without IABP and DTA atheroma.
Preserving neural function under extreme scaling
Shamprasad Varija Raghu
- Important brain functions need to be conserved throughout organisms of extremely varying sizes. Here we study the scaling properties of an essential component of computation in the brain: the single neuron. We compare morphology and signal propagation of a uniquely identifiable interneuron, the HS cell, in the blowfly (Calliphora) with its exact counterpart in the fruit fly (Drosophila) which is about four times smaller in each dimension. Anatomical features of the HS cell scale isometrically and minimise wiring costs but, by themselves, do not scale to preserve the electrotonic behaviour. However, the membrane properties are set to conserve dendritic as well as axonal delays and attenuation as well as dendritic integration of visual information. In conclusion, the electrotonic structure of a neuron, the HS cell in this case, is surprisingly stable over a wide range of morphological scales.
An open-label randomized clinical trial of prophylactic paracetamol coadministered with 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and hexavalent diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, 3-component acellular pertussis, hepatitis B, inactivated poliovirus, and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine
Markus A. Rose
William C. Gruber
- BACKGROUND: In two clinical trials, low-grade fever was observed more frequently after coadministration than after separate administration of two recommended routine pediatric vaccines. Since fever is an important issue with vaccine tolerability, we performed this open-label study on the efficacy and safety of prophylactic use of paracetamol (acetaminophen, Benuron(R)) in children administered routine 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) coadministered with hexavalent vaccine (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine [DTPa-HBV-IPV/Hib]) in Germany.
METHODS: Healthy infants (N = 301) who received a 3-dose infant series of PCV-7 and DTPa-HBV-IPV/Hib plus a toddler dose were randomly assigned 1:1 to prophylactic paracetamol (125 mg or 250 mg suppositories, based on body weight) at vaccination, and at 6--8 hour intervals thereafter, or a control group that received no paracetamol. Rectal temperature and local and other systemic reactions were measured for 4 days post vaccination; adverse events were collected throughout the study.
RESULTS: In the intent-to-treat population, paracetamol reduced the incidence of fever >=38[degree sign]C, but this reduction was only significant for the infant series, with computed efficacy of 43.0% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 17.4, 61.2), and not significant after the toddler dose (efficacy 15.9%; 95% CI: -19.9, 41.3); results were similar in the per protocol (PP) population. Fever >39[degree sign]C was rare during the infant series, such that there were too few cases for assessment. After the toddler dose, paracetamol effectively reduced fever >39[degree sign]C, reaching statistical significance in the PP population only (efficacy 79%; 95% CI: 3.9, 97.7). Paracetamol also reduced reactogenicity, but there were few significant differences between groups after any dose. No vaccine-related serious adverse events were reported.
CONCLUSIONS: Paracetamol effectively prevented fever and other reactions, mainly during the infant series. However, as events were generally mild and of no concern in either group our data support current recommendations to administer paracetamol to treat symptoms only and not for routine prophylaxis.Trial registration: NCT00294294.
A characterization of four B16 murine melanoma cell sublines molecular fingerprint and proliferation behavior
Simona Cîntă Pînzaru
Melania F. Munteanu
- Background: One of the most popular and versatile model of murine melanoma is by inoculating B16 cells in the syngeneic C57BL6J mouse strain. A characterization of different B16 modified cell sub-lines will be of real practical interest. For this aim, modern analytical tools like surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy/scattering (SERS) and MTT were employed to characterize both chemical composition and proliferation behavior of the selected cells.
Methods: High quality SERS signal was recorded from each of the four types of B16 cell sub-lines: B164A5, B16GMCSF, B16FLT3, B16F10, in order to observe the differences between a parent cell line (B164A5) and other derived B16 cell sub-lines. Cells were incubated with silver nanoparticles of 50–100 nm diameter and the nanoparticles uptake inside the cells cytoplasm was proved by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) investigations. In order to characterize proliferation, growth curves of the four B16 cell lines, using different cell numbers and FCS concentration were obtained employing the MTT proliferation assay. For correlations doubling time were calculated.
Results: SERS bands allowed the identification inside the cells of the main bio-molecular components such as: proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. An "on and off" SERS effect was constantly present, which may be explained in terms of the employed laser power, as well as the possible different orientations of the adsorbed species in the cells in respect to the Ag nanoparticles. MTT results showed that among the four tested cell sub-lines B16 F10 is the most proliferative and B164A5 has the lower growth capacity. Regarding B16FLT3 cells and B16GMCSF cells, they present proliferation ability in between with slight slower potency for B16GMCSF cells.
Conclusion: Molecular fingerprint and proliferation behavior of four B16 melanoma cell sub-lines were elucidated by associating SERS investigations with MTT proliferation assay.
Learning more by sampling less: subsampling effects are model specific
- Poster presentation: Twenty Second Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2013. Paris, France. 13-18 July 2013.
When studying real world complex networks, one rarely has full access to all their components. As an example, the central nervous system of the human consists of 1011 neurons which are each connected to thousands of other neurons . Of these 100 billion neurons, at most a few hundred can be recorded in parallel. Thus observations are hampered by immense subsampling. While subsampling does not affect the observables of single neuron activity, it can heavily distort observables which characterize interactions between pairs or groups of neurons . Without a precise understanding how subsampling affects these observables, inference on neural network dynamics from subsampled neural data remains limited.
We systematically studied subsampling effects in three self-organized critical (SOC) models, since this class of models can reproduce the spatio-temporal activity of spontaneous activity observed in vivo [2,3]. The models differed in their topology and in their precise interaction rules. The first model consisted of locally connected integrate- and fire units, thereby resembling cortical activity propagation mechanisms . The second model had the same interaction rules but random connectivity . The third model had local connectivity but different activity propagation rules . As a measure of network dynamics, we characterized the spatio-temporal waves of activity, called avalanches. Avalanches are characteristic for SOC models and neural tissue . Avalanche measures A (e.g. size, duration, shape) were calculated for the fully sampled and the subsampled models. To mimic subsampling in the models, we considered the activity of a subset of units only, discarding the activity of all the other units.
Under subsampling the avalanche measures A depended on three main factors: First, A depended on the interaction rules of the model and its topology, thus each model showed its own characteristic subsampling effects on A. Second, A depended on the number of sampled sites n. With small and intermediate n, the true A¬ could not be recovered in any of the models. Third, A depended on the distance d between sampled sites. With small d, A was overestimated, while with large d, A was underestimated.
Since under subsampling, the observables depended on the model's topology and interaction mechanisms, we propose that systematic subsampling can be exploited to compare models with neural data: When changing the number and the distance between electrodes in neural tissue and sampled units in a model analogously, the observables in a correct model should behave the same as in the neural tissue. Thereby, incorrect models can easily be discarded. Thus, systematic subsampling offers a promising and unique approach to model selection, even if brain activity was far from being fully sampled.
Aesthetic and emotional effects of meter and rhyme in poetry
Martin von Koppenfels
Sonja A. Kotz
- Metrical patterning and rhyme are frequently employed in poetry but also in infant-directed speech, play, rites, and festive events. Drawing on four line-stanzas from nineteenth and twentieth German poetry that feature end rhyme and regular meter, the present study tested the hypothesis that meter and rhyme have an impact on aesthetic liking, emotional involvement, and affective valence attributions. Hypotheses that postulate such effects have been advocated ever since ancient rhetoric and poetics, yet they have barely been empirically tested. More recently, in the field of cognitive poetics, these traditional assumptions have been readopted into a general cognitive framework. In the present experiment, we tested the influence of meter and rhyme as well as their interaction with lexicality in the aesthetic and emotional perception of poetry. Participants listened to stanzas that were systematically modified with regard to meter and rhyme and rated them. Both rhyme and regular meter led to enhanced aesthetic appreciation, higher intensity in processing, and more positively perceived and felt emotions, with the latter finding being mediated by lexicality. Together these findings clearly show that both features significantly contribute to the aesthetic and emotional perception of poetry and thus confirm assumptions about their impact put forward by cognitive poetics. The present results are explained within the theoretical framework of cognitive fluency, which links structural features of poetry with aesthetic and emotional appraisal.
Less invasive surgery of the proximal aorta
- Oral presentation: 23rd World Congress of the World Society of Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons. Split, Croatia. 12-15 September 2013.
Background: Partial upper sternotomy (PUS) is established less invasive approach for single and double valve surgery. Reports of aortic surgery performed through PUS are rare.
Methods: The records of 52 patients undergoing primary elective surgery on the proximal aorta through PUS between 2005 and 2011 were reviewed. Patients mean age was 57 years, 35% were in NYHA Class III or IV, 59% had recent cardiac decompensation, and 17% had pulmonary hypertension. The PUS was taken down to the 4th left intercostal space in 44 patients (85%).
Results: No conversion to full sternotomy was necessary. The aortic cross-clamp, cardiopulmonary bypass and operative times averaged 136 ± 20 min., 186 ± 36 min. and 327 ± 83 min., respectively. In eight patients, the right axillary artery was cannulated for establishing cardiopulmonary bypass; the others were cannulated centrally. All patients except one received a procedure on the ascending aorta, either replacement in 30 (58%) or reduction aortoplasty in 21 (40%). Aortic root replacement was additionally performed in 31 patients (60%), including David in 20 (38%) and Ross procedure in 6 (11.5%). The aortic arch was replaced either partially in 5 (10%) or totally in 3 (6%) patients, in moderate hypothermia employing antegrade cerebral perfusion. Additional procedures, included mitral valve repair in 15 (29%) patients and coronary grafting. Ventilation time, intensive care unit and hospital stay averaged 17 ± 12 hours, 2 ± 1, and 11 ± 9 days. Chest drainage was 470 ± 380 ml/24 hours. Permanent neurologic deficit did not occur. Wound dehiscence was observed in a single patient (2%). Thirty-day and hospital mortality were not observed.
Conclusions: Less invasive surgery on the aortic root, ascending aorta and aortic arch can be performed safely and reproducibly. Potential benefits include a minimized risk of wound dehiscence and reduced postoperative bleeding. The PUS does not compromise the quality of the operation.
Durability of mitral valve reconstruction using the cosgrove edwards annuloplasty band at 5 years
E. von Spreti
- Oral presentation: 23rd World Congress of the World Society of Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons. Split, Croatia. 12-15 September 2013.
Background: In the past, questions have been raised, whether an open flexible annuloplasty band can reliably prevent recurrent mitral valve regurgitation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the durability of mitral valve repair at midterm, using the Cosgrove-Edwards annuloplasty band in a homogenic patient cohort.
Methods: From January 2004 to December 2007, 157 consecutive patients with degenerative mitral valve disease were included in the study. All had quadrangular resection of a P2 prolapse and annuloplasty with a Cosgrove-Edwards annuloplasty band. Clinical and echocardiography follow-up was complete.
Results: There was no intraoperative or 30 day mortality. After a mean follow-up of 5.0 ± 1.9 years, survival was 94.3%. At midterm, freedom from reoperations was 98.9%, freedom from thromboembolism was 97.5% and freedom from endocarditis was 99.4%. Echocardiography follow-up showed recurrent mitral valve regurgitation higher than grade 2 in two patients. Mean ejection fraction was 60.3 ± 10.2%, left atrial diameter was 42 ± 7 mm, mean gradient was 3.2 ± 1.4 mmHg, effective orifice area was 3.3 ± 1.3cm², mitral leaflet coaptation length was 7.5 ± 1.9 mm and mitral leaflet tethering height was 6.2 ± 2.3 mm.
Conclusion: Mitral valve repair using the Cosgrove annuloplasty band for degenerative mitral valve disease provides an effective and durable form of reconstruction.
Prospective evaluation of artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of non-falciparum and mixed-species malaria in Gabon
Daisy A. Diop
Ayola A. Adegnika
Peter G. Kremsner
- Background: The recommendation of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) as first-line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria is supported by a plethora of high quality clinical trials. However, their recommendation for the treatment of mixed-species malaria and the large-scale use for the treatment of non-falciparum malaria in endemic regions is based on anecdotal rather than systematic clinical evidence.
Methods: This study prospectively observed the efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of uncomplicated non-falciparum or mixed-species malaria in two routine district hospitals in the Central African country of Gabon.
Results: Forty patients suffering from uncomplicated Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale or mixed-species malaria (including Plasmodium falciparum) presenting at the hospital received artemether-lumefantrine treatment and were followed up. All evaluable patients (n = 38) showed an adequate clinical and parasitological response on Day 28 after oral treatment with artemether-lumefantrine (95% confidence interval: 0.91,1). All adverse events were of mild to moderate intensity and completely resolved by the end of study.
Conclusions: This first systematic assessment of artemether-lumefantrine treatment for P. malariae, P. ovale and mixed-species malaria demonstrated a high cure rate of 100% and a favourable tolerability profile, and thus lends support to the practice of treating non-falciparum or mixed-species malaria, or all cases of malaria without definite species differentiation, with artemether-lumefantrine in Gabon.
Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00725777