Lege Artis Medicinae

[The Doctor with the Patient's Eye]

NÉMETH István

JANUARY 29, 1992

Lege Artis Medicinae - 1992;2(01)

[The title page shows the first of a series of four engravings from 1587, with a large figure of Jesus in the foreground, examining a bottle of urine in his hand. At his feet are various medical books and instruments. In the background are several small life-like scenes depicting the treatment of seriously ill patients. To the left, the doctor is checking the pulse of a figure lying in a four-poster bed who, judging by the gestures of his relatives, must be in a very critical condition. To the right, the doctor is about to splint the broken leg of a man with a pain-ridden face, while in the background, a helpless patient is being trephined.]

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Although vertigo is one of the most common complaints, intracranial malignant tumors rarely cause sudden asymmetry between the tone of the vestibular peripheries masquerading as a peripheral-like disorder. Here we report a case of simultaneous temporal bone infiltrating macro-metastasis and disseminated multi-organ micro-metastases presenting as acute unilateral vestibular syndrome, due to the reawakening of a primary gastric signet ring cell carcinoma. Purpose – Our objective was to identify those pathophysiological steps that may explain the complex process of tumor reawakening, dissemination. The possible causes of vestibular asymmetry were also traced. A 56-year-old male patient’s interdisciplinary medical data had been retrospectively analyzed. Original clinical and pathological results have been collected and thoroughly reevaluated, then new histological staining and immunohistochemistry methods have been added to the diagnostic pool. During the autopsy the cerebrum and cerebellum was edematous. The apex of the left petrous bone was infiltrated and destructed by a tumor mass of 2x2 cm in size. Histological reexamination of the original gastric resection specimen slides revealed focal submucosal tumorous infiltration with a vascular invasion. By immunohistochemistry mainly single infiltrating tumor cells were observed with Cytokeratin 7 and Vimentin positivity and partial loss of E-cadherin staining. The subsequent histological examination of necropsy tissue specimens confirmed the disseminated, multi-organ microscopic tumorous invasion. Discussion – It has been recently reported that the expression of Vimentin and the loss of E-cadherin is significantly associated with advanced stage, lymph node metastasis, vascular and neural invasion and undifferentiated type with p<0.05 significance. As our patient was middle aged and had no immune-deficiency, the promoting factor of the reawakening of the primary GC malignant disease after a 9-year-long period of dormancy remained undiscovered. The organ-specific tropism explained by the “seed and soil” theory was unexpected, due to rare occurrence of gastric cancer to metastasize in the meninges given that only a minority of these cells would be capable of crossing the blood brain barrier. Patients with past malignancies and new onset of neurological symptoms should alert the physician to central nervous system involvement, and the appropriate, targeted diagnostic and therapeutic work-up should be established immediately. Targeted staining with specific antibodies is recommended. Recent studies on cell lines indicate that metformin strongly inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition of gastric cancer cells. Therefore, further studies need to be performed on cases positive for epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

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Lege Artis Medicinae

[Second game, 37th move and Fourth game 78th move]

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[What has Go to do with making clinical decisions? One of the greatest intellectual challenges of bedside medicine is making decisions under uncertainty. Besides the psychological traps of traditionally intuitive and heuristic medical decision making, lack of information, scarce resources and characteristics of doctor-patient relationship contribute equally to this uncertainty. Formal, mathematical model based analysis of decisions used widely in developing clinical guidelines and in health technology assessment provides a good tool in theoretical terms to avoid pitfalls of intuitive decision making. Nevertheless it can be hardly used in individual situations and most physicians dislike it as well. This method, however, has its own limitations, especially while tailoring individual decisions, under inclusion of potential lack of input data used for calculations, or its large imprecision, and the low capability of the current mathematical models to represent the full complexity and variability of processes in complex systems. Nevertheless, clinical decision support systems can be helpful in the individual decision making of physicians if they are well integrated in the health information systems, and do not break down the physicians’ autonomy of making decisions. Classical decision support systems are knowledge based and rely on system of rules and problem specific algorithms. They are utilized widely from health administration to image processing. The current information revolution created the so-called artificial intelligence by machine learning methods, i.e. machines can learn indeed. This new generation of artificial intelligence is not based on particular system of rules but on neuronal networks teaching themselves by huge databases and general learning algorithms. This type of artificial intelligence outperforms humans already in certain fields like chess, Go, or aerial combat. Its development is full of challenges and threats, while it presents a technological breakthrough, which cannot be stopped and will transform our world. Its development and application has already started also in the healthcare. Health professionals must participate in this development to steer it into the right direction. Lee Sedol, 18-times Go world champion retired three years after his historical defeat from AlphaGo artificial intelligence, be­cause “Even if I become the No. 1, there is an entity that cannot be defeated”. It is our great luck that we do not need to compete or defeat it, we must ensure instead that it would be safe and trustworthy, and in collaboration with humans this entity would make healthcare more effective and efficient. ]