Etna is the tallest and most active volcano in Europe, situated where the European and African geological plates are colliding.
Dr Jug Alean and Dr Marco Fulle have been investigating Etna’s growing level of activity and in February they saw the ejection of several spectacular hoops from the Bocca Nuova region of the mountain.
“This wonderful specimen gently drifted overhead and past the Sun which was tinted orange by aerosols in the smoke,” Dr Alean told BBC News Online.
It is difficult to gauge the size of what the scientists are calling “steam rings”. They drift across the blue sky with no points of reference. However, the volcanologists estimate the hoops to be about 200m across and up to 1000m above the ground.
Smoke rings have been seen at volcanoes before but never in such detail. This time, there was hardly any ash on Etna and the gas billowing from vents had a high steam content. It is for this reason that Drs Alean and Fulle are using the term “steam rings”.
Looking like the hoops produced by smokers, the hoops can hang in the air for many minutes. Etna’s rings have been seen to last as long as 10 minutes.
How they are formed is a mystery that these pictures may help solve.
Dr Jurg Alean speculates: “They could be formed by rapid gas pulses emitted by narrow vents into the atmosphere. The physics seems somewhat complicated and I am trying to establish if there are sound scientific theories about them.”
Drs Alean and Fulle keep a close eye on Etna, running a private seismic monitoring station as well as maintaining a photographic record of changes on the mountain. Their website, stromboli.net, contains some of the most dramatic volcano pictures ever taken.
Total colonic aganglionosis (TCA) is a relatively uncommon form of Hirschsprung disease (HSCR), occurring in approximately 2%-13% of cases. It can probably be classified as TCA (defined as aganglionosis extending from the anus to at least the ileocecal valve, but not >50 cm proximal to the ileocecal valve) and total colonic and small bowel aganglionosis, which may involve a very long segment of aganglionosis. It is not yet clear whether TCA merely represents a long form of HSCR or a different expression of the disease. There are many differences between TCA and other forms of HSCR, which require explanation if its ubiquitous clinical features are to be understood. Clinically, TCA appears to represent a different spectrum of disease in terms of presentation and difficulties that may be experienced in diagnosis, suggesting a different pathophysiology from the more common forms of HSCR. There is also some evidence suggesting that instead of being purely congenital, it may represent certain different pathophysiologic mechanisms. This study, in addition to reviewing current understanding and differences between TCA and the more frequently encountered rectosigmoid (or short-segment) expression, correlates them with what is currently known about the genetic and molecular biological background. Moreover, it reviews current outcomes to find consensus on management.
There were two main purposes to this study: first, to assess the feasibility and reliability of 2 quantitative methods to assess bleeding volume in patients who suffered spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), and second, to compare these methods to other qualitative and semiquantitative scales in terms of reliability and accuracy in predicting delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI) and outcome.
A prospective series of 150 patients consecutively admitted to the Hospital 12 de Octubre over a 4-year period were included in the study. All of these patients had a diagnosis of SAH, and diagnostic CT was able to be performed in the first 24 hours after the onset of the symptoms. All CT scans were evaluated by 2 independent observers in a blinded fashion, using 2 different quantitative methods to estimate the aneurysmal bleeding volume: region of interest (ROI) volume and the Cavalieri method. The images were also graded using the Fisher scale, modified Fisher scale, Claasen scale, and the semiquantitative Hijdra scale. Weighted κ coefficients were calculated for assessing the interobserver reliability of qualitative scales and the Hijdra scores. For assessing the intermethod and interrater reliability of volumetric measurements, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were used as well as the methodology proposed by Bland and Altman. Finally, weighted κ coefficients were calculated for the different quartiles of the volumetric measurements to make comparison with qualitative scales easier. Patients surviving more than 48 hours were included in the analysis of DCI predisposing factors and analyzed using the chi-square or the Mann-Whitney U-tests. Logistic regression analysis was used for predicting DCI and outcome in the different quartiles of bleeding volume to obtain adjusted ORs. The diagnostic accuracy of each scale was obtained by calculating the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC).
Qualitative scores showed a moderate interobserver reproducibility (weighted κ indexes were always < 0.65), whereas the semiquantitative and quantitative scores had a very strong interobserver reproducibility. Reliability was very high for all quantitative measures as expressed by the ICCs for intermethod and interobserver agreement. Poor outcome and DCI occurred in 49% and 31% of patients, respectively. Larger bleeding volumes were related to a poorer outcome and a higher risk of developing DCI, and the proportion of patients suffering DCI or a poor outcome increased with each quartile, maintaining this relationship after adjusting for the main clinical factors related to outcome. Quantitative analysis of total bleeding volume achieved the highest AUC, and had a greater discriminative ability than the qualitative scales for predicting the development of DCI and outcome.
The use of quantitative measures may reduce interobserver variability in comparison with categorical scales. These measures are feasible using dedicated software and show a better prognostic capability in relation to outcome and DCI than conventional categorical scales.
Sixty-four Sprague-Dawley rats underwent infraorbital nerve injury. Seven days after surgery, pain was verified and the rats randomly assigned to topical or systemic treatment with pregabalin or diclofenac, or to no treatment. Pain intensity and motor coordination were assessed at baseline, after surgery, and daily after treatment for 4 consecutive days. Medication plasma levels were assessed at the end of the study.
Topical treatment with 10% pregabalin or 5% diclofenac reduced the pain significantly. A significant decrease in motor coordination was found in the systemic pregabalin. The medications’ plasma levels were significantly higher in the systemic treatment compared with the topical.
Topical treatment with pregabalin or diclofenac can reduce neuropathic orofacial pain induced by nerve injury.
Helmets successfully prevent most cranial fractures and skull traumas, but traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions continue to occur with frightening frequency despite the widespread use of helmets on the athletic field and battlefield. Protection against such injury is needed. The object of this study was to determine if slosh mitigation reduces neural degeneration, gliosis, and neuroinflammation.
Two groups of 10 adult male Sprague-Dawleyrats were subjected to impact-acceleration TBI. One group of animals was fitted with a collar inducing internal jugular vein (IJV) compression prior to injury, whereas the second group received no such collar prior to injury. All rats were killed 7 days postinjury, and the brains were fixed and embedded in paraffin. Tissue sections were processed and stained for markers of neural degeneration (Fluoro-Jade B), gliosis (glial fibrillary acidic protein), and neuroinflammation (ionized calcium binding adapter molecule 1).
Compared with the controls, animals that had undergone IJV compression had a 48.7%–59.1% reduction in degenerative neurons, a 36.8%–45.7% decrease in reactive astrocytes, and a 44.1%–65.3% reduction in microglial activation.
The authors concluded that IJV compression, a form of slosh mitigation, markedly reduces markers of neurological injury in a common model of TBI. Based on findings in this and other studies, slosh mitigation may have potential for preventing TBI in the clinical population.
Overdrainage of CSF remains an unsolved problem in shunt therapy. The aim of the present study was to evaluate treatment options on overdrainage-related events enabled by the new generation of adjustable gravity-assisted valves.
The authors retrospectively studied the clinical course of 250 consecutive adult patients with various etiologies of hydrocephalus after shunt insertion for different signs and symptoms of overdrainage. Primary and secondary overdrainage were differentiated. The authors correlated the incidence of overdrainage with etiology of hydrocephalus, opening valve pressure, and patient parameters such as weight and size. Depending on the severity of overdrainage, they elevated the opening pressure, and follow-up was performed until overdrainage was resolved.
The authors found 39 cases (15.6%) involving overdrainage-related problems—23 primary and 16 secondary overdrainage. The median follow-up period in these 39 patients was 2.1 years. There was no correlation between the incidence of overdrainage and any of the following factors: sex, age, size, or weight of the patients. There was also no statistical significance among the different etiologies of hydrocephalus, with the exception of congenital hydrocephalus. All of the “complications” could be resolved by readjusting the opening pressure of the valve in one or multiple steps, avoiding further operations.
Modern adjustable and gravity-assisted valves enable surgeons to set the opening pressure relatively low to avoid underdrainage without significantly raising the incidence of overdrainage and to treat overdrainage-related clinical and radiological complications without surgical intervention.
In convection-enhanced delivery (CED), drugs are infused locally into tissue through a cannula inserted into the brain parenchyma to enhance drug penetration over diffusion strategies. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of ultrasound-assisted CED (UCED) in the rodent brain in vivo using a novel, low-profile transducer cannula assembly (TCA) and portable, pocket-sized ultrasound system.
Forty Sprague-Dawley rats (350–450 g) were divided into 2 equal groups (Groups 1 and 2). Each group was divided again into 4 subgroups (n = 5 in each). The caudate of each rodent brain was infused with 0.25 wt% Evans blue dye (EBD) in phosphate-buffered saline at 2 different infusion rates of 0.25 μl/minute (Group 1), and 0.5 μl/minute (Group 2). The infusion rates were increased slowly over 10 minutes from 0.05 to 0.25 μl/minute (Group 1) and from 0.1 to 0.5 μl/minute (Group 2). The final flow rate was maintained for 20 minutes. Rodents in the 4 control subgroups were infused using the TCA without ultrasound and without and with microbubbles added to the infusate (CED and CED + MB, respectively). Rodents in the 4 UCED subgroups were infused without and with microbubbles added to the infusate (UCED and UCED + MB) using the TCA with continuous-wave 1.34-MHz low-intensity ultrasound at a total acoustic power of 0.11 ± 0.005 W and peak spatial intensity at the cannula tip of 49.7 mW/cm2. An additional 4 Sprague-Dawley rats (350–450 g) received UCED at 4 different and higher ultrasound intensities at the cannula tip ranging from 62.0 to 155.0 mW/cm2 for 30 minutes. The 3D infusion distribution was reconstructed using MATLAB analysis. Tissue damage and morphological changes to the brain were assessed using H & E.
The application of ultrasound during infusion (UCED and UCED + MB) improved the volumetric distribution of EBD in the brain by a factor of 2.24 to 3.25 when there were no microbubbles in the infusate and by a factor of 1.16 to 1.70 when microbubbles were added to the infusate (p < 0.001). On gross and histological examination, no damage to the brain tissue was found for any acoustic exposure applied to the brain.
The TCA and ultrasound device show promise to improve the distribution of infused compounds during CED. The results suggest further studies are required to optimize infusion and acoustic parameters for small compounds and for larger molecular weight compounds that are representative of promising antitumor agents. In addition, safe levels of ultrasound exposure in chronic experiments must be determined for practical clinical evaluation of UCED. Extension of these experiments to larger animal models is warranted to demonstrate efficacy of this technique.