1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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Corticosteroids after brain injury may be a poor treatment choice.

A new, large, multinational study published in the October 9, 2004, issue of the Lancet has shown that administering corticosteroids to patients with head injuries carries a greater relative risk of death within two weeks of injury of 1.18. In the trial (originally slated to involve 20,000 patients), subjects were given either a 48-hour infusion of corticosteroids or placebo. However, because the risk of death was so clear early on in the trial, randomization was stopped at just over 10,000 subjects. Of 4,985 patients in the corticosteroid group, 1,052 (21%) died within two weeks, as opposed to 893 (18%) of those in the placebo group (n = 4,979).


Good dog; very good dog.

Dogs can smell bladder cancer, according to a new study published in the September 25, 2004, issue of the British Medical Journal. Researchers in London trained six dogs to distinguish urine samples of patients with new or recurrent bladder cancer from samples taken from controls. After training, the dogs were given samples taken from other patients with bladder cancer and controls and correctly identified the former 41% of the time (by chance alone, the expected success rate was 14%). The percentage rose to 50% when dried samples were excluded from the analysis. One control subject consistently identified by the dogs as having cancer was retested, and a kidney carcinoma was found.

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