Acute isolated optic neuritis is often the first manifestation of multiple sclerosis (MS), and its management remains controversial. Over the past decade, with the advent of new disease-modifying agents, management of isolated optic neuritis has become more complicated.
To evaluate the current practice patterns of Canadian ophthalmologists and neurologists in the management of acute optic neuritis, and to evaluate the impact of recently published randomized clinical trials.
All practicing ophthalmologists and neurologists in Canada were mailed a survey evaluating the management of isolated acute optic neuritis and familiarity with recent clinical trials. Surveys for 1158 were mailed, and completed surveys were collected anonymously through a datafax system. Second and third mailings were sent to non-respondents 6 and 12 weeks later.
The final response rate was 34.5%. Although many acute optic neuritis patients initially present to ophthalmologists, neurologists are the physicians primarily managing these patients. Ordering magnetic resonance imaging, and treating with high dose intravenous steroids has become the standard of care. However, 15% of physicians (14% of ophthalmologists and 16% of neurologists) continue to prescribe low dose oral steroids, and steroids are being given for reasons other than to shorten the duration of visual symptoms by 73% of ophthalmologists and 50% of neurologists. More neurologists than ophthalmologists are familiar with recent clinical trials involving disease-modifying agents.
Although the management of acute optic neuritis has been evaluated in large clinical trials that were published in major international journals, some ophthalmologists and neurologists are not following evidence-based recommendations.
Cites: N Engl J Med. 1993 Dec 9;329(24):1764-98232485
OBJECTIVE: 1) To evaluate the management of acute isolated optic neuritis (ON) by ophthalmologists and neurologists; 2) to evaluate the impact of clinical trials; 3) to compare these practices among 7 countries. METHODS: A survey on diagnosis and treatment of acute isolated ON was sent to 5,443 neurologists and 6,099 ophthalmologists in the southeast-USA, Canada, Australia/New Zealand, Denmark, France, and Thailand. USA data were compared to those of other countries. RESULTS: We collected 3,142 surveys (1,449 neurologists/1,693 ophthalmologists) (29.8% response rate). In all countries, ON patients more frequently presented to ophthalmologists, and were subsequently referred to neurologists or subspecialists. Evaluation and management of ON varied among countries, mostly because of variations in healthcare systems, imaging access, and local guidelines. A brain MRI was obtained for 70-80% of ON patients; lumbar punctures were obtained mostly in Europe and Thailand. Although most patients received acute treatment with intravenous steroids, between 14% and 65% of neurologists and ophthalmologists still recommended oral prednisone (1 mg/kg/day) for the treatment of acute isolated ON. In all countries, steroids were often prescribed to improve visual outcome or to decrease the long-term risk of multiple sclerosis. INTERPRETATION: Although recent clinical trials have changed the management of acute ON around the world, many neurologists and ophthalmologists do not evaluate and treat acute ON patients according to the best evidence from clinical research. This confirms that evaluation of the impact of major clinical trials ("translational T2 clinical research") is essential when assessing the effects of interventions designed to improve quality of care.
The prevalence of dementia is placing an increased burden on specialists.
Canadian neurologists responded to a structured questionnaire to assess reasons for referral and services provided as well as to compare the neurologists' perceptions of their practice characteristics against cases seen over a 3-month period.
The audit confirmed the participants' perception that family practitioners are the main referral source (358/453, 79%). Sixty-two percent of patients had undergone clinical investigation for dementia prior to being seen by the neurologist; 39% (177/453) were on pharmacotherapy at the time of referral, 68% were initiated on pharmacotherapy by the neurologist. A fifth of the referrals did not meet clinical criteria for dementia, which may be directly related to the prevalence of prior workup that did not include mental status testing.
Neurologists currently treat patients referred for dementia who may already have been adequately evaluated and treated by primary care providers.
Comment In: Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2008 Dec-2009 Jan;23(6):513-519222144
Care after stroke hospitalization can provide several opportunities to optimize vascular risk reduction. However, not much is known about poststroke practice patterns among neurologists. Such knowledge may help direct specific efforts to improve the impact of practicing neurologists on clinical outcomes after stroke.
A survey soliciting information on processes of care in the outpatient setting after recent hospitalization for ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack was mailed to a random sample of 833 US and Canadian neurologist-members of the American Academy of Neurology.
A total of 475 (57%) responses were received. Practice demographics of survey responders and nonresponders were largely similar. Fourteen percent of respondents identified themselves as vascular neurologists. Overall, respondents reported frequently checking for medication adherence and counseling patients on lifestyle modification. However, neurologists reported screening more frequently for diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia than actually treating these conditions (all P