A French observational study to compare efficacy of fingolimod and natalizumab in active MS, published in Neurology.

To compare natalizumab and fingolimod on both clinical and MRI outcomes in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) from 27 multiple sclerosis centers participating in the French follow-up cohort Observatoire of Multiple Sclerosis.

Patients with RRMS included in the study were aged from 18 to 65 years with an Expanded Disability Status Scale score of 0-5.5 and an available brain MRI performed within the year before treatment initiation. The data were collected for 326 patients treated with natalizumab and 303 with fingolimod. The statistical analysis was performed using 2 different methods: logistic regression and propensity scores (inverse probability treatment weighting).

The confounder-adjusted proportion of patients with at least one relapse within the first and second year of treatment was lower in natalizumab-treated patients compared to the fingolimod group (21.1% vs 30.4% at first year, p = 0.0092; and 30.9% vs 41.7% at second year, p = 0.0059) and supported the trend observed in nonadjusted analysis (21.2% vs 27.1% at 1 year, p = 0.0775). Such statistically significant associations were also observed for gadolinium (Gd)-enhancing lesions and new T2 lesions at both 1 year (Gd-enhancing lesions: 9.3% vs 29.8%, p < 0.0001; new T2 lesions: 10.6% vs 29.6%, p < 0.0001) and 2 years (Gd-enhancing lesions: 9.1% vs 22.1%, p = 0.0025; new T2 lesions: 16.9% vs 34.1%, p = 0.0010) post treatment initiation.

Taken together, these results suggest the superiority of natalizumab over fingolimod to prevent relapses and new T2 and Gd-enhancing lesions at 1 and 2 years.

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If you are interested in serious games, take a look at this open access paper about medical training for telemedicine in the ER setting.


Serious games involving virtual patients in medical education can provide a controlled setting within which players can learn in an engaging way, while avoiding the risks associated with real patients. Moreover, serious games align with medical students’ preferred learning styles. The Virtual Emergency TeleMedicine (VETM) game is a simulation-based game that was developed in collaboration with the mEducator Best Practice network in response to calls to integrate serious games in medical education and training. The VETM game makes use of data from an electrocardiogram to train practicing doctors, nurses, or medical students for problem-solving in real-life clinical scenarios through a telemedicine system and virtual patients. The study responds to two gaps: the limited number of games in emergency cardiology and the lack of evaluations by professionals.


The objective of this study is a quantitative, professional feedback-informed evaluation of one scenario of VETM, involving cardiovascular complications. The study has the following research question: “What are professionals’ perceptions of the potential of the Virtual Emergency Telemedicine game for training people involved in the assessment and management of emergency cases?”


The evaluation of the VETM game was conducted with 90 professional ambulance crew nursing personnel specializing in the assessment and management of emergency cases. After collaboratively trying out one VETM scenario, participants individually completed an evaluation of the game (36 questions on a 5-point Likert scale) and provided written and verbal comments. The instrument assessed six dimensions of the game: (1) user interface, (2) difficulty level, (3) feedback, (4) educational value, (5) user engagement, and (6) terminology. Data sources of the study were 90 questionnaires, including written comments from 51 participants, 24 interviews with 55 participants, and 379 log files of their interaction with the game.


Overall, the results were positive in all dimensions of the game that were assessed as means ranged from 3.2 to 3.99 out of 5, with user engagement receiving the highest score (mean 3.99, SD 0.87). Users’ perceived difficulty level received the lowest score (mean 3.20, SD 0.65), a finding which agrees with the analysis of log files that showed a rather low success rate (20.6%). Even though professionals saw the educational value and usefulness of the tool for pre-hospital emergency training (mean 3.83, SD 1.05), they identified confusing features and provided input for improving them.


Overall, the results of the professional feedback-informed evaluation of the game provide a strong indication of its potential as an educational tool for emergency training. Professionals’ input will serve to improve the game. Further research will aim to validate VETM, in a randomized pre-test, post-test control group study to examine possible learning gains in participants’ problem-solving skills in treating a patient’s symptoms in an emergency situation.

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This article was published in the December 7th issue of JAMA Neurology. Authors discuss whether prehospital assessment by a mobile stroke unit can improve management and access to thrombolysis


Mobile stroke treatment units (MSTUs) with on-site treatment teams that include a vascular neurologist can provide thrombolysis in the prehospital setting faster than treatment in the hospital. These units can be made more resource efficient if the need for an on-site neurologist can be eliminated by relying solely on telemedicine for physician presence.

To test whether telemedicine is reliable and remote physician presence is adequate for acute stroke treatment using an MSTU.

Design, Setting, and Participants
Prospective observational study conducted between July 18 and November 1, 2014. The dates of the study analysis were November 1, 2014, to March 30, 2015. The setting was a community-based study assessing telemedicine success of the MSTU in Cleveland, Ohio. Participants were the first 100 residents of Cleveland who had an acute onset of stroke-like symptoms between 8 am and 8 pm and were evaluated by the MSTU after the implementation of the MSTU program at the Cleveland Clinic. A vascular neurologist evaluated the first 100 patients via telemedicine, and a neuroradiologist remotely assessed images obtained by mobile computed tomography (CT). Data were entered into the medical record and a prospective registry.

Main Outcomes and Measures
The study compared the evaluation and treatment of patients on the MSTU with a control group of patients brought to the emergency department via ambulance during the same year. Process times were measured from the time the patient entered the door of the MSTU or emergency department, and any problems encountered during his or her evaluation were recorded.

Ninety-nine of 100 patients were evaluated successfully. The median duration of telemedicine evaluation was 20 minutes (interquartile range [IQR], 14-27 minutes). One connection failure was due to crew error, and the patient was transported to the nearest emergency department. There were 6 telemedicine disconnections, none of which lasted longer than 60 seconds or affected clinical care. Times from the door to CT completion (13 minutes [IQR, 9-21 minutes]) and from the door to intravenous thrombolysis (32 minutes [IQR, 24-47 minutes]) were significantly shorter in the MSTU group compared with the control group (18 minutes [IQR, 12-26 minutes] and 58 minutes [IQR, 53-68 minutes], respectively). Times to CT interpretation did not differ significantly between the groups.

Conclusions and Relevance
An MSTU using telemedicine is feasible, with a low rate of technical failure, and may provide an avenue for reducing the high cost of such systems.

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An interesting article about diagnostic challenges in IIH published in the latest issue of Neurology


Objective: To delineate the factors contributing to overdiagnosis of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) among patients seen in one neuro-ophthalmology service at a tertiary center.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed new patients referred with a working diagnosis of IIH over 8 months. The Diagnosis Error Evaluation and Research taxonomy tool was applied to cases referred with a diagnosis of IIH and a discrepant final diagnosis.

Results: Of 1,249 patients, 165 (13.2%) were referred either with a preexisting diagnosis of IIH or to rule out IIH. Of the 86/165 patients (52.1%) with a preexisting diagnosis of IIH, 34/86 (39.5%) did not have IIH. The most common diagnostic error was inaccurate ophthalmoscopic examination in headache patients. Of 34 patients misdiagnosed as having IIH, 27 (27/34 [79.4%]; 27/86 [31.4%]) had at least one lumbar puncture, 29 (29/34 [85.3%]; 29/86 [33.7%]) had a brain MRI, and 8 (8/34 [23.5%]; 8/86 [9.3%]) had a magnetic resonance/CT venogram. Twenty-six had received medical treatment, 1 had a lumbar drain, and 4 were referred for surgery. In 8 patients (8/34 [23.5%]; 8/86 [9.3%]), an alternative diagnosis requiring further evaluation was identified.

Conclusions: Diagnostic errors resulted in overdiagnosis of IIH in 39.5% of patients referred for presumed IIH, and prompted unnecessary tests, invasive procedures, and missed diagnoses. The most common errors were inaccurate ophthalmoscopic examination in headache patients and thinking biases, reinforcing the need for rapid access to specialists with experience in diagnosing optic nerve disorders. Indeed, the high prevalence of primary benign headaches and obesity in young women often leads to costly and invasive evaluations for presumed IIH.

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