Friday, October 08, 2004

In The Weeklies

Here are some relevant highlights from this week’s major scientific and medical weeklies:

New England Journal of Medicine
07 October 2004

This week’s issue includes the research report, Protected Carotid-Artery Stenting versus Endarterectomy in High-Risk Patients by Yadav and colleagues. Here is the abstract:
Background. Carotid endarterectomy is more effective than medical management in the prevention of stroke in patients with severe symptomatic or asymptomatic atherosclerotic carotid-artery stenosis. Stenting with the use of an emboli-protection device is a less invasive revascularization strategy than endarterectomy in carotid-artery disease.

Methods. We conducted a randomized trial comparing carotid-artery stenting with the use of an emboli-protection device to endarterectomy in 334 patients with coexisting conditions that potentially increased the risk posed by endarterectomy and who had either a symptomatic carotid-artery stenosis of at least 50 percent of the luminal diameter or an asymptomatic stenosis of at least 80 percent. The primary end point of the study was the cumulative incidence of a major cardiovascular event at 1 year — a composite of death, stroke, or myocardial infarction within 30 days after the intervention or death or ipsilateral stroke between 31 days and 1 year. The study was designed to test the hypothesis that the less invasive strategy, stenting, was not inferior to endarterectomy.

Results. The primary end point occurred in 20 patients randomly assigned to undergo carotid-artery stenting with an emboli-protection device (cumulative incidence, 12.2 percent) and in 32 patients randomly assigned to undergo endarterectomy (cumulative incidence, 20.1 percent; absolute difference, –7.9 percentage points; 95 percent confidence interval, –16.4 to 0.7 percentage points; P=0.004 for noninferiority, and P=0.053 for superiority). At one year, carotid revascularization was repeated in fewer patients who had received stents than in those who had undergone endarterectomy (cumulative incidence, 0.6 percent vs. 4.3 percent; P=0.04).

Conclusions. Among patients with severe carotid-artery stenosis and coexisting conditions, carotid stenting with the use of an emboli-protection device is not inferior to carotid endarterectomy.

09 October 2004

This week’s issue include the primary research paper mentioned in an earlier posting about the use of steroids in the acute medical management of traumatic brain injury: Effect of intravenous corticosteroids on death within 14 days in 10 008 adults with clinically significant head injury (MRC CRASH trial): randomised placebo-controlled trial by the CRASH trial collaborators. The issue also includes commentary and talking points about the research study.

07 October 2004

This issue includes the letter, Role for a cortical input to hippocampal area CA1 in the consolidation of a long-term memory by Miguel Remondes and Erin M. Schuman, the first paragraph of which reads:

A dialogue between the hippocampus and the neocortex is thought to underlie the formation, consolidation and retrieval of episodic memories, although the nature of this cortico-hippocampal communication is poorly understood. Using selective electrolytic lesions in rats, here we examined the role of the direct entorhinal projection (temporoammonic, TA) to the hippocampal area CA1 in short-term (24 hours) and long-term (four weeks) spatial memory in the Morris water maze. When short-term memory was examined, both sham- and TA-lesioned animals showed a significant preference for the target quadrant. When re-tested four weeks later, sham-lesioned animals exhibited long-term memory; in contrast, the TA-lesioned animals no longer showed target quadrant preference. Many long-lasting memories require a process called consolidation, which involves the exchange of information between the cortex and hippocampus. The disruption of long-term memory by the TA lesion could reflect a requirement for TA input during either the acquisition or consolidation of long-term memory. To distinguish between these possibilities, we trained animals, verified their spatial memory 24 hours later, and then subjected trained animals to TA lesions. TA-lesioned animals still exhibited a deficit in long-term memory, indicating a disruption of consolidation. Animals in which the TA lesion was delayed by three weeks, however, showed a significant preference for the target quadrant, indicating that the memory had already been adequately consolidated at the time of the delayed lesion. These results indicate that, after learning, ongoing cortical input conveyed by the TA path is required to consolidate long-term spatial memory.

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