Vaginal Discharge :: therapy
Division of Infectious Diseases, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, MI, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Genital malodor is a common distressing complaint that brings a woman to her physician's office. Vaginal infections, primarily bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis, still remain the commonest causes and are relatively easy to diagnose and treat. However, in approximately one third of women who present with malodor, no cause is identified. Although data on the management of vaginal discharge are extensive, the management of genital odor beyond common vaginal infections remains poorly studied. This presents a frustrating situation for both the patient and her physician. Often, patients resort to home remedies and over-the-counter preparations, which, while providing short-term relief for some women, almost never address the cause and, in some cases, can exacerbate symptoms. In this review, we have attempted to consolidate the known and documented causes of genital malodor including the nonvaginal causes and provide case studies that will help clinicians understand the possible settings for the various causes. We also provide an algorithm for the management of this symptom beyond vaginal infections.
Most cited papers:
Validation of a WHO algorithm with risk assessment for the clinical management of vaginal discharge in Mwanza, Tanzania.
P Mayaud, G ka-Gina, J Cornelissen, J Todd, G Kaatano, B West, E Uledi, M Rwakatare, L Kopwe, D Manoko, M Laga, H Grosskurth, R Hayes, D Mabey
African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), Mwanza, Tanzania.
OBJECTIVES (i) To determine the microbial aetiologies of vaginal discharge in STD clinic and antenatal clinic (ANC) attenders;(ii) to evaluate the performance and costs of a new WHO algorithm for the detection of gonococcal and chlamydial infections in women complaining of vaginal discharge and/or genital itching, using a risk assessment. METHODS Two groups were enrolled:(i) 395 consecutive female patients attending a hospital outpatient clinic complaining of genital discharge or itching; and (ii) 628 consecutive pregnant women reporting at an urban ANC these symptoms. Patients were interviewed by a nurse, who applied the WHO risk score. They were then referred to the study room for interview concerning the same and other risk factors, examined, and sampled for Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG), Chlamydia trachomatis (CT), Trichomonas vaginalis (TV), and Candida albicans (CA). Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, overtreatment and correct treatment rates, and cost of drugs per true case treated were estimated. RESULTS The prevalence of NG and/or CT infections was 11.4% and 8% at the STD clinic and the ANC respectively. The most prevalent pathogens were CA (38% at both clinics) and TV (25% at the STD clinic and 34% at the ANC). The sensitivity of the WHO algorithm for NG and/or CT was 62% at the STD clinic and 46% at the ANC, and the specificities were 64% and 84% respectively. The operational feasibility of the method was good. The cost of drugs per true case treated in applying the risk assessment approach was $3.5 among nonpregnant women and $5.0 among pregnant women. This compared favourably with respective costs of $8.8 and $25.0 in applying the syndromic management alone. CONCLUSIONS The WHO risk assessment algorithm for the diagnosis of NG and/or CT infections among women complaining of genital discharge can considerably reduce overtreatment of NG and/or CT in both pregnant and non-pregnant women, but in this study it failed to identify 38% of non-pregnant and 54% of pregnant women with these infections. The elements of the risk score may need adjustment in different settings.
Personal, organizational, and market level influences on physicians' practice patterns: results of a national survey of primary care physicians.
Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. email@example.com
BACKGROUND One of the principal tenets of managed care is that physicians' clinical decisions can be influenced both to improve the quality and consistency of care and to decrease health care expenditures. Medical decision making, however, remains a complex phenomenon and the most important determinants of physicians' approaches to clinical decision making remain poorly understood. OBJECTIVES To determine how clinical decisions are associated with individual characteristics, practice setting and organizational characteristics, attributes of the patient population under care, and the market environment. RESEARCH DESIGN Cross-sectional, nationally representative survey of patient-care physicians. SUBJECTS Primary care physicians who provide direct patient care at least 20 hours per week. MEASURES Proportion of physicians who would order a referral, diagnostic test, or treatment for 5 clinical scenarios thought to be representative of discretionary medical decisions. RESULTS Responses were received from 4,825 primary care physicians who cared for adult patients (Response Rate 65%). The distribution of results for each of the five clinical scenarios demonstrates significant variability both within and between physicians. No evidence was seen of a consistent practice style across the vignettes (eg,"aggressive" or "conservative"). The organizational setting of practice was the most consistent predictor of behavior across all the clinical scenarios, with the exception of back pain, which was minimally related to any of the environmental factors. When compared to physicians in solo practice, physicians in all other practice settings were less likely to order a test or referral or pursue treatment. Practice involvement with managed care and measures of financial influences and administrative strategies associated with managed care were minimally and inconsistently associated with reported physician behaviors. CONCLUSIONS The ability of managed care to improve the quality and consistency of care while also controlling the costs of care depends on its ability to influence medical decisions. Our findings generally demonstrate that managed care has a weak influence on discretionary medical decisions and that the influence of managed care pales in comparison to personal and practice setting influences.
Department of Microbiology, University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
OBJECTIVES To examine the performance of the syndromic approach in the management of vaginal discharge among women attending a reproductive health clinic in New Delhi, India. METHODS Women who sought services from the clinic and who had a complaint of vaginal discharge were interviewed, underwent a pelvic examination, and provided samples for laboratory investigations of bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections. Data analysis focused on the prevalence of infection and on the performance of the algorithm recommended by the national authorities for the management of vaginal discharge. RESULTS The most common infection among 319 women was bacterial vaginosis (26%). At least one sexually transmitted infection was detected in 21.9% of women. The prevalence of C trachomatis infection was 12.2%; trichomoniasis 10%; syphilis 2.2%; N gonorrhoeae was not isolated. An algorithm based on risk assessment and speculum assisted clinical evaluation was not helpful in predicting cervical infections associated with C trachomatis (sensitivity 5% and PPV 9%). This algorithm was sensitive (95%) though not specific (22%) in selecting women for metronidazole therapy effective against bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis, and overtreatment was a problem (PPV 38%). The sensitivity, specificity, and PPV of this algorithm for the treatment of candidiasis were 46%, 98%, and 88% respectively. The cost per case assessed using the algorithm was $2 and the cost per infection correctly treated was $4.25. CONCLUSIONS The prevalence of cervical infection associated with C trachomatis was high among these "low risk" women. The syndromic approach is not an efficient tool for detecting this condition, and alternative approaches to evaluation and intervention are required. The syndromic management of vaginal discharge among women seeking family planning and other reproductive health services should focus on vaginal infections, thus enhancing quality of care and addressing women's concerns about their health.
Validation of the WHO diagnostic algorithm and development of an alternative scoring system for the management of women presenting with vaginal discharge in Malawi.
C Costello Daly, A M Wangel, I F Hoffman, J K Canner, G S Lule, V M Lema, N G Liomba, G A Dallabetta
John Snow, Inc, Boston, MA 02210, USA.
OBJECTIVE To evaluate the performance of the WHO algorithm for the detection of cervical infection in women presenting with vaginal discharge and modify the risk assessment score for optimum effectiveness in Malawi. METHODS 550 consecutive women presenting with non-ulcerative genitourinary complaints were interviewed and examined. Cervical infection was defined as presence of Neisseria gonorrhoeae on culture and/or Chlamydia trachomatis by EIA. Other laboratory investigations included wet mount microscopy, serology for syphilis and HIV, LED testing of cervical and vaginal secretions, and pH testing of vaginal fluid. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values (PPV) of different algorithms were determined in the analysis. RESULTS Cervical infection was identified in 19.5% of women (17.1% gonorrhoea, 3.7% chlamydial infection). The sensitivity/specificity/PPV of the WHO risk assessment were 43%/73%/28%, respectively by history and 62%/61%/27% with the addition of speculum examination. Using Malawi results to modify the risk assessment improved the performance to 61%/68%/31% respectively by history alone, which increased to 73%/64%/33% with bimanual examination and 72%/56%/29% with speculum examination. CONCLUSION The sensitivity of the WHO risk assessment is low for the detection of cervical infection in Malawi. Although the Malawi risk assessment performed somewhat better on history alone, this study identified external and bimanual examination variables that improved the diagnostic performance of the algorithm in settings where speculum examination is not possible. Although the PPVs of the algorithms are low, country specific risk assessments can provide a framework for management until simple, affordable diagnostic tests for the definitive diagnosis of cervical infection are available.
Cornell University, Ithica, NY 14853-4401, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Variations in physician practice patterns have important implications for quality and cost. The purpose of this article is to explain variation in physicians' practice patterns in terms of physician personal characteristics, practice setting, patient population, and managed care involvement. Data on 2,455 primary care physicians were derived from the Community Tracking Study Physician Survey (1996-1997). Factor scores were determined based on responses to three clinical scenarios that represent discretionary medical decisions. These scenarios include a specialist referral for benign prostatic hyperplasia, prescription drugs for elevated cholesterol, and an office visit for vaginal discharge. Physician age, being a foreign medical school graduate, being a solo practitioner, and having a larger proportion of Medicaid patients were all associated with higher factor scores, a greater likelihood of ordering a service. Being board certified was associated with lower factor scores. Managed care involvement was not a significant predictor of factor scores.
Department of Community Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.
To explore the contextual factors influencing health-seeking behavior of women in Karachi regarding reproductive tract infections, 18 women with reproductive tract infections from different clinics and community settings were identified and in-depth interviews were conducted. Physicians in our study diagnosed a woman to have lower reproductive tract infection if she complained of malodorous vaginal discharge with or without perineal itching; and to have pelvic inflammatory disease or upper reproductive tract infection if she had any two of the following complaints: malodorous vaginal discharge, menstrual irregularities, lower abdominal pain or dyspareunia. Women consulted a variety of healthcare providers in their pursuit for treatment, mainly allopathic doctors and hakims. The different treatments prescribed to women ranged from oral and intravaginal medications to various home remedies including refraining from specific foods. Causes of reproductive tract infections reported were "melting bones", consuming foods with perceived hot composition, poor personal hygiene and procedures like dilatation and curettage, delivery and induced abortions. None reported sexually transmitted diseases as the perceived cause of their problem. Interference with religious activities, sexual relationships or socializing was reported as consequences of reproductive tract infections, in addition to lower abdominal pain, menstrual irregularities, backache and kamzori (weakness). Pakistani women seek care for reproductive tract infections and visit a variety of providers, though causes and treatments offered are usually not related to sexually transmitted diseases. We therefore suggest training of healthcare providers for appropriate counseling and that treatment management protocols be advocated.
Reproductive tract infections in primary healthcare, family planning, and dermatovenereology clinics: evaluation of syndromic management in Morocco.
C A Ryan, A Zidouh, L E Manhart, R Selka, M Xia, M Moloney-Kitts, J Mahjour, M Krone, B N Courtois, G Dallabetta, K K Holmes
Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
OBJECTIVE To determine where and with what symptoms women seek care for reproductive tract infections (RTI) in Morocco and to guide allocation of resources for training and treatment for RTIs. METHODS A primary healthcare centre (PHC), a family planning centre (FPC), and a specialty dermatovenereology clinic (SC) were selected in each of three urban areas. Women with symptoms of vaginal discharge, lower abdominal or pelvic pain, or genital lesions (genital ulcer or warts) underwent interviews, physical examinations, serological testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis, and collection of vaginal fluid for microscopic examination, and urine for detection of Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (GC) by ligase chain reaction (LCR). RESULTS Over 8 months, 1238 women enrolled, including 61.8% at PHCs, 34.8% at FPCs, and 3.4% at SCs. Overall, 54% complained of vaginal discharge, of whom 8.8% had GC or CT infection and 30.1% had trichomoniasis (TV) or bacterial vaginosis (BV); 24.9% complained of lower abdominal pain with or without vaginal discharge, of whom 7.3% had GC or CT and 22.6% had TV or BV. GC or CT infections were found in 10.1% of PHC and 5.4% of FPC patients; while TV and/or BV infections were found in 28.7% and 22.8%, respectively. GC or CT infection was associated with perceived risk behaviours of the male partner (for example, belief partner is unfaithful) more often than with reported risk behaviours of the women themselves. For vaginal infections, a modified World Health Organisation (WHO) test algorithm for vaginal discharge involving risk assessment plus speculum and bimanual examination was 98.0% sensitive at PHCs and 90.8% at FPCs, with positive predictive value (PPV) of 33.4% at PHCs and 26.8% at FPCs. For GC or CT infections this algorithm was 60.6% sensitive at PHCs and 85.7% sensitive at FPCs; but PPV was only 9.9% and 9.0% respectively, little higher than the background prevalence of these infections. An RTI algorithm (Morocco specific) had comparable sensitivity and PPV for vaginal infection, and for cervical infection was less sensitive but had much higher PPV (26.9% for PHCs and 26.7% for FPCs). CONCLUSION Women with complaints of vaginal discharge and/or lower abdominal pain presented to PHC and FP clinics, not to SCs. PHCs and FPCs should therefore receive resources for management of vaginal discharge. Both the test algorithm and the new RTI algorithm were useful in allocating treatment for vaginal infection, but only the RTI algorithm discriminated in selecting women with cervical infection. Even with the RTI algorithm, which limited treatment for cervical infection to risk assessment positive patients with signs of cervical infection or PID, the PPV for cervical infection was low, potentially resulting in frequent overtreatment and problems of partner notification.
Mortimer Market Centre, Camden Primary Care Trust, London. email@example.com
Provision of syndromic treatment of sexually transmitted infections by community pharmacists: a potentially underutilized HIV prevention strategy.
Kim Ward, Nadine Butler, Pierre Mugabo, Jeffrey Klausner, Willi McFarland, Sanny Chen, Sandra Schwarcz
School of Pharmacy, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are known risk factors for HIV infection. GOAL The goal of this study was to assess the current and potential future role that community pharmacists in Western Cape, South Africa play in the treatment of STIs. STUDY DESIGN A cross-sectional survey of community pharmacists in the Western Cape region of South Africa. A face-to-face interview that ascertained experience with requests from patients for STI treatment, current STI treatment practices, and willingness to provide syndromic STI treatment was administered to head pharmacists. RESULTS Ninety pharmacies were selected and 85 (94%) of the head pharmacists participated; 55 from an urban area and 30 from a rural area. Pharmacists reported a median of 40 urban clients and 25 rural clients who sought STI treatment from community pharmacists. When provided with a hypothetical clinical situation, 13% of urban and 17% of rural pharmacists identified the correct medication for male urethral discharge, 8% of urban pharmacists and none of the rural pharmacists identified correct treatment for genital ulcers, and none of the pharmacists identified the correct medication for vaginal discharge. Fifty-three percent of pharmacists in urban regions and 47% of pharmacists in rural regions expressed willingness to provide syndromic STI treatment. Independent predictors of willingness to provide syndromic treatment were knowledge of the link between HIV transmission and STIs (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 13.78; 95% CI: 2.69, 70.66), past experience prescribing syndromic STI treatment (OR: 11.1; 95% CI: 1.14, 108.6), and male gender (OR: 4.38; 95% CI: 1.15, 16.7). CONCLUSIONS Pharmacists are frequently called upon to provide STI treatment but have limited knowledge of correct treatment recommendations. Training pharmacists to provide syndromic STI treatment may be one strategy to reduce STI morbidity and HIV transmission.
The effect of introduction of a guideline on the management of vaginal discharge and in particular bacterial vaginosis in primary care.
Highlands Health Centre, Fore Street, Ivybridge, Plymouth PL21 0AD, UK.
BACKGROUND Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the commonest cause of vaginal discharge, and its association with obstetric and gynaecological complications is being recognized increasingly. It was our impression that BV was poorly understood and underdiagnosed in family practice. OBJECTIVE The aim of this study was to explore the management of patients with vaginal symptoms by family practitioners and to see if the management changed after the assimilation of best practice guidelines. METHOD Family practitioners were invited to complete a baseline questionnaire of their perceived practice, and to record actual practice when consulted about vaginal symptoms, for a minimum of 4 weeks. Consensus best practice guidelines were then provided and practice recorded for a similar period. RESULTS Baseline data was received from 34 practitioners and suggested that the symptoms and signs of different vaginal infections were not well known. Most symptomatic patients were only investigated at re-presentation with unresolved symptoms or at recurrence, and 43% of respondents treated with empirical antifungals as a first line approach. Pregnant patients were only occasionally asked about symptoms and only occasionally examined if symptomatic. Pre-guideline practice data from 30 practitioners showed 1.2 patient consultations/week, of which 60% were examined and 55% had a high vaginal swab (HVS) sent. Only 2% had near-patient tests done. Post-guideline data from 23 family practitioners showed a lower recorded consultation rate at 0.7/week, but 90% of these were examined, 77% had an HVS sent and 69% had near-patient tests done. Of the 36 HVS examined by Gram stain, 19 (53%) showed Lactobacillus predominant flora and 10 (28%) suggested BV. Seven (19%) were borderline or ungradable. Only three (8%) showed yeasts, one of which also showed BV. CONCLUSIONS Baseline data supported our impression that BV was under-recognized. Guidelines appeared to improve the rate of investigation of women consulting with vaginal symptoms.