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Ryan Syrek, MA
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The Top 10 Clinical Trends of 2016

Ryan Syrek, MA  |  December 15, 2016

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Slide 1

Top 10 Clinical Trends of 2016

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate as to what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. These were the most popular among those weekly searches for 2016.

Trend 10: Awake Craniotomy

In early January, this term surged in popularity, thanks to a study in Neurosurgery. It demonstrated that hypnosedation may aid in "awake craniotomy," a surgery in which patients are sedated but conscious in order to communicate with the surgeon during the procedure. This is done so that the neurosurgeon can avoid damaging the "eloquent cortex," which are the critical areas of the brain responsible for language and movement. Hypnosis, beginning a few weeks before surgery, was found to reduce the impact of unpleasant events during surgery.

For more information on craniotomy, read here.

Slide 2

Trend 9: Hyperandrogenism

The most popular term the last week of August was related to the Rio Olympics. South African track star Caster Semenya, who won the gold medal in the 800-m race, has a condition that has sparked controversial comments from other Olympians and analysts. Semenya has hyperandrogenism, which has resulted in her having testosterone levels above the previous threshold of 10 nm/L (considered to be the low end of the male range). Although a court of arbitration last year ruled that hyperandrogenic females had no evident performance benefit, several competitors voiced their displeasure.

For more information on hyperandrogenism, read here.

Slide 3

Trend 8: Drunkorexia

In the second week of July, an alarming new trend on college campuses resulted in the week's top search term. Dipali V. Rinker, PhD, presented research findings at the 39th Annual Research Society on Alcoholism Scientific Meeting. Dr Rinker's research showed that 8 in 10 college students, many of whom were men, engaged in a behavior dubbed "drunkorexia." This is where individuals attempting to get more intoxicated or to get intoxicated quicker avoid eating before drinking alcohol or induce vomiting, consume laxatives, or take diuretics. Of the nearly 1200 college students included in the study, 81% reported such behavior at least once in the past 3 months.

For more information on alcohol toxicity, read here.

Slide 4

Trend 7: Sex Free

A study involving the sexual activity of younger patients after an acute myocardial infarction (MI) resulted in the top search term for the first week of October. The findings revealed that 1 in 15 women and 1 in 20 men never again become sexually active after an acute MI at a young age. Among those who did return to sexual activity, more than 50% did so within 1 month after the event, and more than 90% did so within the first year. The study also found that few participants had any conversations with a physician about resuming sex. Given the popularity of this term, clinicians may be looking to change that.

For more on acute MI, read here.

Slide 5

Trend 6: LSD

Set aside Hunter S. Thompson's "fear and loathing"—lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has the ability to change brain function, leading to ego dissolution, which has been counted among the least understood domains of psychedelic experience. A new neuroimaging study has shed light on how the drug influences high-level cortical regions and the thalamus, which shows increased global connectivity upon use. The study's implications indicate a potential role for treatment in such disorders as anxiety or schizophrenia. Although the findings require further investigation, the potential to use LSD to understand the symptomology and links to brain function may provide insights into how to alter the dangerous symptoms of schizophrenia, driving an increase in searches on this subject during the first week of May.

For more information on schizophrenia, read here.

Slide 6

Trend 5: Liver Failure Stages

Two bits of news probably influenced the popularity of the top search term for the second week of February. The first is a positive, as researchers from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom reported that coffee consumption may substantially reduce the risk for cirrhosis. Their systemic review and meta-analysis covered data from nine long-term studies, which included almost half a million women and men and spanned six countries. Two cups of coffee were found to lower the risk for cirrhosis by 44% and decreased risk for death from liver failure by nearly 50%.

Sadly, a missing teenager also helped drive searches. Nicole Madison Lovell, a 13-year-old from Blacksburg Virginia, ran away from home—a particularly dangerous act, given that she requires daily medication for her previous liver transplant. After days without medication, she would begin to experience the first stages of liver failure.

For more information on liver failure, read here.

Slide 7

Trend 4: Alcohol Cancer

A study that strongly links alcohol to cancer resulted in the top search term for the second week of August. A literature review published in Addiction concludes that epidemiologic evidence supports a causal association between alcohol consumption and seven different types of cancer. Although the findings were not "new" information, the review was intended to demonstrate just how strong the evidence is that alcohol causes these cancers. Specifically, the authors clarify that no amount of alcohol can be considered safe with respect to cancer.

For more information on the effects of alcohol consumption, read here.

Slide 8

Trend 3: Helicobacter pylori

A busy year for a busy microorganism resulted in the top search term for the third week of September. A new review examined the extragastric diseases related to Helicobacter pylori infection that were described in studies this year. This includes an association with cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in Alzheimer disease, periodontal disease, and even diabetes mellitus. What's more, Dr David Johnson, professor of medicine and gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, recently tackled the "changing rules" of H pylori treatment. He explains drug-resistance patterns and describes the 14-day regimen of treatment now recommended at the Toronto Consensus Conference.

For more information on H pylori, read here.

Slide 9

Trend 2: Sepsis Criteria

For the first time in 15 years, the definition of what constitutes sepsis and septic shock has been updated, leading to the top search term for the second week of March. An international task force has added new criteria for septic shock and simplified standards for recognizing sepsis-related organ failure. Touted as one of the biggest collaborations in critical care medicine, the effort was designed to provide a new and effective way to identify sepsis and severe sepsis in order to initiate treatment as quickly as possible.

For more on sepsis, read here.

Slide 10

Trend 1: HPV Vaccine

A Canadian study demonstrating reduced abnormal Pap smear results and a mandate from Pittsburgh helped increase popularity for the third week of July. This study of more than 10,000 women determined that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination reduced the risk for abnormal Pap smear findings, especially high-grade abnormalities (50% reduction in risk). Meanwhile, the Allegheny County Board of Health is considering a mandate that would require students to receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine by the time they reach seventh grade in order to remain in public school. The mandate is supported by directors of the cancer centers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

For more information on HPV, read here.

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