Publications by authors named "Ella Roelant"

30 Publications

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J Rehabil Med Clin Commun 2020 31;3:1000030. Epub 2020 Mar 31.

Multidisciplinary Oncological Center of Antwerp (MOCA), Antwerp, Belgium.

Objective: It is recommended that cancer survivors incorporate physical activity into their daily lives after in-hospital rehabilitation. However, there is a lack of training programmes focusing on the specific needs of cancer survivors. TriaGO! - an 8-month intervention study of aerobic endurance training for cancer survivors - was therefore examined. The training programme aims to meet the participants' physical needs and provide socio-emotional support, in the form of an exercise programme that challenges participants to aim to compete in an Olympic- distance triathlon (1,000 m swimming, 45 km cycling, 10 km running) after 8 months' of training.

Methods: The TriaGO! training programme was provided to in-hospital rehabilitated cancer survivors ( = 12). Each patient invited a healthy friend or family member to train with them (a so called buddy ( = 12)). The 8-month programme involves supervised training sessions, combining cycling, swimming and running, which progress in frequency, duration and intensity. Physical health was measured at the start, 4 and 8 months, using objective parameters of aerobic fitness, muscular fitness and body composition.

Results: A total of 22 out of 24 participants successfully completed the training programme and the triathlon. Both the cancer survivors and their buddies showed significant improvements in physical health. Cancer survivors showed improvements in aerobic fitness, as increases in VOmax and VOpeak of 5.5 and 0.26 ml.min respectively ( <0.0001). Buddies underwent similar significant increases; 5.39 and 0.18 ml.min, respectively.

Conclusion: The TriaGO! training programme introduces the concept of supervised endurance training for cancer survivors. Through measurement of ob-jective parameters, this study demonstrated that significant physical reconditioning is possible in cancer survivors. A supervised programme would be recommended for all cancer patients after in-hospital treatment, in order to facilitate the transition to incorporation of physical activity into daily life.
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March 2020

Beta-Trace Protein as a Potential Marker of Acute Kidney Injury: A Pilot Study.

Kidney Blood Press Res 2021 30;46(2):185-195. Epub 2021 Mar 30.

Department of Nephrology and Renal Transplantation, University Hospital Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Introduction: Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a frequent complication among patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). The limitations of serum Cr (sCr) in timely detecting AKI are well known. Beta-trace protein (BTP) is emerging as a novel endogenous glomerular filtration rate marker. The aim of this study was to explore the role of BTP as a marker of AKI.

Methods: Patients admitted to the ICU undergoing surgery were included. BTP, sCr, Cystatin C (CysC), and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) were measured preoperatively, postoperatively (post-op), and at the first (D1) and second (D2) post-op day. AKI was defined as an increase of sCr to ≥1.5-fold from baseline within 2 days after surgery.

Results: Of the 52 patients studied, 10 patients (19%) developed AKI. Patients with AKI were older (69.6 ± 10.7 vs. 58.1 ± 16.7 years, p = 0.043) and had a longer length of ICU stay (13 [IQR 6-49] vs. 6 [IQR 5-8] days, p = 0.032). Between the 2 groups, the evolution of BTP, sCr, CysC, and NGAL over time differed significantly, with overall higher values in the AKI group. ROC analysis for the detection of AKI within 2 days after surgery showed a great accuracy for BTP. The area under the curve (AUC) for BTP post-op; D1; and D2 was, respectively, 0.869 ± 0.049; 0.938 ± 0.035; and 0.943 ± 0.032. The discriminative power of a BTP measurement on D1 was superior in detecting AKI compared to NGAL (adjusted p value = 0.027). We could not detect a significant difference between the AUCs of other biomarkers (NGAL, sCr, and CysC).

Conclusion: Serum BTP is a promising marker for diagnosing AKI in ICU patients undergoing surgery.
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March 2021

Immunoglobin G/total antibody testing for SARS-CoV-2: A prospective cohort study of ambulatory patients and health care workers in two Belgian oncology units comparing three commercial tests.

Eur J Cancer 2021 05 27;148:328-339. Epub 2021 Feb 27.

Multidisciplinary Oncologic Centre Antwerp (MOCA), Antwerp University Hospital, Wilrijkstraat 10, Edegem, B-2650, Belgium; Center for Oncological Research (CORE), Integrated Personalised and Precision Oncology Network (IPPON), University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, Wilrijk, B-2610, Belgium.

Background: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is interfering heavily with the screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients. Better knowledge of the seroprevalence and immune response after Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in this population is important to manage them safely during the pandemic.

Methods: 922 cancer patients, 100 non-cancer patients and 94 health care workers (HCW) attending the Multidisciplinary Oncology Unit of Antwerp University Hospital from 24th of March 2020 till 31st of May 2020, and the Oncology Unit of AZ Maria Middelares Hospital, Ghent, from 13th of April 2020 till 31st of May 2020 participated in the study. The Alinity® (A; Abbott) and Liaison® (D; DiaSorin) commercially available assays were used to measure SARS-CoV-2 IgG, while total SARS-CoV-2 Ig was measured by Elecsys® (R; Roche).

Results: In the overall study population IgG/total SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were found in respectively 32/998 (3.2%), 68/1020 (6.7%), 37/1010 (3.7%) and of individuals using the A, D or R test. Forty-six out of 618 (7.4%) persons had a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test. Seroprevalence in cancer patients (A:2.2%, D:6.2%, R:3.0%), did not significantly differ from that in non-cancer patients (A:1.1%, D:5.6%, R:0.0%), but was lower than the HCW (A:13%, D:12%, R:12%; respectively Fisher's exact test p = 0.00001, p = 0.046, p = 0.0004). A positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR was found in 6.8% of the cancer patients, 2.3% of the non-cancer patients and 28.1% of the HCW (Fisher's exact test p = 0.0004). Correlation between absolute values of the different Ig tests was poor in the cancer population. Dichotomising a positive versus negative test result, the A and R test correlated well (kappa 0.82 p McNemar test = 0.344), while A and D and R and D did not (respectively kappa 0.49 and 0.57; result significantly different p McNemar test = <0.0001 for both). The rate of seroconversion (>75%) and median absolute antibody levels (A: 7.0 versus 4.7; D 74.0 versus 26.6, R: 16.34 versus 7.32; all >P Mann Whitney U test = 0.28) in cancer patients and HCW with a positive RT-PCR at least 7 days earlier did not show any differences. However, none (N = 0/4) of the patients with hematological tumours had seroconversion and absolute antibody levels remained much lower compared to patients with solid tumours (R: 0.1 versus 37.6, p 0.003; D 4.1 versus 158, p 0.008) or HCW (all p < 0.0001).

Conclusion: HCW were at high risk of being infected by SARS-CoV-2 during the first wave of the pandemic. Seroprevalence in cancer patients was low in the study period. Although Ig immune response in cancer patients with solid tumours does not differ from healthy volunteers, patients with hematological tumours have a very poor humoral immune response. This has to be taken into account in future vaccination programmes in this population. SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests have divergent results and seem to have little added value in the management of cancer patients.
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May 2021

The tele-transition of toxicity management in routine oncology care during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.

Br J Cancer 2021 04 9;124(8):1366-1372. Epub 2021 Feb 9.

Department of Oncology, Antwerp University Hospital Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: Telehealth modalities were introduced during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to assure continuation of cancer care and maintain social distance.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort analysis of our telehealth expansion programme. We adapted two existing patient-reported outcome (PRO) telemonitoring tools that register and (self-)manage toxicities to therapy, while screening for SARS-CoV-2-related symptoms. Outpatients from a tertiary cancer centre were enrolled. The adapted PRO interface allowed for uniform registration of SARS-CoV-2-related symptoms and effective triage of patients at home where we also implemented systematic throat washings, when available.

Results: Three hundred and sixty patients registered to the telemonitoring systems from March 13 to May 15, 2020. Four prespecified SARS-CoV-2 alarms resulted in three patients with positive PCR testing. Other Covid-19 symptoms (fever 5× and cough 2×) led to pretreatment triage resulting in 1 seroconversion after initial negative testing. One of the 477 throat washings proved positive.

Conclusions: The rapid adoption of an amended PRO (self-)registrations and toxicity management system was feasible and coordinated screening for Covid-19. Continued clinical cancer care was maintained, with significant decreased waiting time. The systemic screening with throat washings offered no real improvement.
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April 2021

Suture tape augmentation ACL repair, stable knee, and favorable PROMs, but a re-rupture rate of 11% within 2 years.

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2021 Jan 2. Epub 2021 Jan 2.

Antwerp University Hospital, Orthopaedics, Drie Eikenstraat 655, 2650, Edegem, Belgium.

Purpose: The aim of this study is to investigate clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) outcomes after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair using the suture tape augmentation (STA) technique.

Methods: This prospective interventional case series included 35 patients who underwent STA ACL repair and were all followed up for 2 years. The ACL rupture was between 4 and 12 weeks old and per-operatively confirmed repairable. The International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC), and Lysholm and Tegner scores were collected together with return to work (RTW), return to sport (RTS), re-rupture, and re-intervention rate. Lachman testing was performed and ACL healing was evaluated on MRI using a grading scale based on the ACL's morphology and signal intensity with grade 1 representing good ACL healing and grade 3 representing poor ACL healing.

Results: The number of patients who returned to their pre-rupture level for IKDC, Lysholm, and Tegner scores at 2 years of follow-up are 17/26 (65.4%), 13/25 (52.0%), and 18/27 (66.7%) patients, respectively. Median RTW and RTS periods were 5.5 weeks (range 0-32 weeks) and 6 months (range 2-22 months), respectively. The Lachman side-to-side difference decreased significantly (P < 0.001) to less than 3 mm after surgery and remained stable. Four patients [11.4%, 95% CI (3.2, 26.7)] suffered from a re-rupture and three other patients [8.6%, 95% CI (1.8, 23.1)] needed a re-intervention for another reason than re-rupture. MRI follow-up of 31 patients showed overall grade 1 ACL healing in 14 (45.2%) patients, grade 2 ACL healing in 11 (35.5%) patients, and grade 3 ACL healing in 6 (19.4%) patients. A higher risk of re-rupture was associated with grade 3 ACL healing at 6 months post-operatively and a pre-operative Tegner score of  ≥  7.

Conclusion: This study shows that treatment of the acute, repairable ACL with the STA technique leads to a stable knee and favorable patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs). However, the re-rupture rate of 11.4% within the 2-year follow-up is a concern.

Level Of Evidence: IV.
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January 2021

Implementing a new method of group toilet training in daycare centres: a cluster randomised controlled trial.

Eur J Pediatr 2021 May 23;180(5):1393-1401. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Campus Drie Eiken, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Antwerp, Belgium.

Despite the existing methods, a trend towards a later initiation and completion of toilet training has been seen in Western society. This study is the first to investigate prospectively the efficacy of intensive group toilet training in daycare centres. The primary outcome of interest is the duration until the child is toilet trained. A cluster randomised controlled trial was established in daycare centres; clusters of participants were randomly allocated to an intervention or control group. Intervention group was subjected to an intensive toilet training session. Innovative aspects of this toilet training method were a 2-h training on two consecutive days, carried out in small groups in daycare centres. Parents of children in the control group were encouraged to start TT in their own manner. Children were monitored until they were considered to be fully toilet trained during the day. Median toilet training duration in the intervention group was 2 weeks compared to 5 weeks in controls (p value log rank test = 0.007). The hazard of being clean during the follow-up of 6 weeks was twice as high in the intervention compared to controls (p = 0.018).Conclusion: The intervention had a significant influence on the duration of toilet training in healthy children, with a median duration of 2 weeks. Our findings are clinically relevant for daycare educators, having a considerable responsibility in the development of children.Trial Registration Number: NCT04221776. What is Known: • Despite different existing methods, a later initiation of toilet training has been seen in Western society and coherent to this an increasing age of acquiring full bladder control. • Child daycare centres have a growing role in the toilet training process. What is New: • This is the first prospective report describing the results of a new method of toilet training healthy children in small groups in daycare centres. • The intervention had a significant influence on the duration of toilet training, with a median duration of 2 weeks.
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May 2021

Diffusion tensor imaging of the anterior cruciate ligament graft following reconstruction: a longitudinal study.

Eur Radiol 2020 Dec 14;30(12):6673-6684. Epub 2020 Jul 14.

Department of Radiology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Objective: To longitudinally monitor remodeling of human autograft following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction with DTI.

Methods: Twenty-eight patients underwent DTI follow-up at 3, 8, and 14 months after clinically successful ACL reconstruction with tendon autograft. Among these, 18 patients had a concomitant lateral extra-articular procedure (LET). DTI data from 7 healthy volunteers was also obtained. Diffusion parameters (fractional anisotropy, FA; mean diffusivity, MD; axial diffusivity, AD; and radial diffusivity, RD) were evaluated within the fiber tractography volumes of the ACL graft and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in all patients. Data were analyzed using a linear mixed-effects model with post hoc testing using Bonferroni-Holm correction for multiple testing. The effect of additional LET was studied.

Results: The ACL graft showed a significant decrease of FA over time (F = 4.00, p = 0.025), while the diffusivities did not significantly change over time. For PCL there were no significant DTI changes over time. A different evolution over time between patients with and without LET was noted for all diffusivity values of the ACL graft with reduced AD values in patients with LET at 8 months postoperatively (p = 0.048; adjusted p = 0.387). DTI metrics of the ACL graft differed largely from both native ACL and tendon at 14 months postoperatively.

Conclusion: Our study has shown the potential of DTI to longitudinally monitor the remodeling process in human ACL reconstruction. DTI analysis indicates that graft remodeling is incomplete at 14 months postoperatively.

Key Points: • DTI can be used to longitudinally monitor the remodeling process in human ACL reconstruction. • DTI analysis indicates that autograft remodeling is incomplete at 14 months postoperatively. • DTI may be helpful for evaluating new ACL treatments.
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December 2020

A video-game based cognitive training for breast cancer survivors with cognitive impairment: A prospective randomized pilot trial.

Breast 2020 Oct 12;53:23-32. Epub 2020 Jun 12.

Multidisciplinary Oncologic Center Antwerp (MOCA), Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, B2650, Belgium; Centre for Oncological Research (CORE), University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, B2610, Belgium. Electronic address:

Introduction: We investigated whether a web-based cognitive training video game is an effective approach to improve cognitive decline in combination with our standard of care for rehabilitation of breast cancer (BC) patients.

Materials And Methods: Self-selected BC patients between 18 and 71 years old complaining of disturbing cognitive impairment were studied. The patients received access to a web-based internet video game and online cognitive assessments (Aquasnap, Cambridge, MyCQ™). The early intervention group (n = 23) had a training program of 6 months of at least three times a week for a minimum of 60 min of game playing per week at home in addition to standard of care rehabilitation. The delayed intervention (n = 23) received standard of care for three months, followed by three months of similar MyCQ training. Outcome measures were the MyCQ (sub)scores and Activity of Daily Life (ADL), mood, subjective cognition and functional cognitive status measured by classic neuropsychological tests.

Results: At baseline the means for CFQ (a measure of self-reported cognitive failure), anxiety, PSQI and self-reflectiveness were beyond normal range in both groups. CFQ improved significantly better in the intervention group (p = 0.029). Combining the evolution over time in the entire population a significant improvement was seen for overall MyCQ score, level of fear, physical and emotional role limitation, and health change (all p < 0.05), but self-reflectivess deteriorated (p < 0.05)). Significant differences in the various MyCQ subtests over time were: improved speed in choice reaction time, visual memory recognition, N back 1 and 2, coding, trail making test B, improved accuracy of N back 1 and 2 (all p < 0.05).

Conclusion: A program of cognitive training improves cognitive functioning over time. "Aquasnap" has a beneficial effect on the perception of subjective cognitive functioning (CFQ) but the exact role of video gaming in this process remains uncertain.
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October 2020

Super-Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Knee Using 2-Dimensional Turbo Spin Echo Imaging.

Invest Radiol 2020 08;55(8):481-493

imec-Vision Lab, Department of Physics, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the technical feasibility of 3-dimensional (3D) super-resolution reconstruction (SRR) of 2D turbo spin echo (TSE) knee magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and to compare its image quality with conventional 3D TSE sampling perfection with application optimized contrast using different flip angle evolutions (SPACE) MRI.

Materials And Methods: Super-resolution reconstruction 2D TSE MRI and 3D TSE SPACE images were acquired from a phantom and from the knee of 22 subjects (8 healthy volunteers and 14 patients) using a clinical 3-T scanner. For SRR, 7 anisotropic 2D TSE stacks (voxel size, 0.5 × 0.5 × 2.0 mm; scan time per stack, 1 minute 55 seconds; total scan time, 13 minutes 25 seconds) were acquired with the slice stack rotated around the phase-encoding axis. Super-resolution reconstruction was performed at an isotropic high-resolution grid with a voxel size of 0.5 × 0.5 × 0.5 mm. Direct isotropic 3D image acquisition was performed with the conventional SPACE sequence (voxel size, 0.5 × 0.5 × 0.5 mm; scan time, 12 minutes 42 seconds). For quantitative evaluation, perceptual blur metrics and edge response functions were obtained in the phantom image, and signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios were measured in the images from the healthy volunteers. Images were qualitatively evaluated by 2 independent radiologists in terms of overall image quality, edge blurring, anatomic visibility, and diagnostic confidence to assess normal and abnormal knee structures. Nonparametric statistical analysis was performed, and significance was defined for P values less than 0.05.

Results: In the phantom, perceptual blur metrics and edge response functions demonstrated a clear improvement in spatial resolution for SRR compared with conventional 3D SPACE. In healthy subjects, signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios in clinically relevant structures were not significantly different between SRR and 3D SPACE. Super-resolution reconstruction provided better overall image quality and less edge blurring than conventional 3D SPACE, yet the perceived image contrast was better for 3D SPACE. Super-resolution reconstruction received significantly better visibility scores for the menisci, whereas the visibility of cartilage was significantly higher for 3D SPACE. Ligaments had high visibility on both SRR and 3D SPACE images. The diagnostic confidence for assessing menisci was significantly higher for SRR than for conventional 3D SPACE, whereas there were no significant differences between SRR and 3D SPACE for cartilage and ligaments. The interreader agreement for assessing menisci was substantial with 3D SPACE and almost perfect with SRR, and the agreement for assessing cartilage was almost perfect with 3D SPACE and moderate with SRR.

Conclusions: We demonstrate the technical feasibility of SRR for high-resolution isotropic knee MRI. Our SRR results show superior image quality in terms of edge blurring, but lower image contrast and fluid brightness when compared with conventional 3D SPACE acquisitions. Further contrast optimization and shortening of the acquisition time with state-of-the-art acceleration techniques are necessary for future clinical validation of SRR knee MRI.
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August 2020

Pterygium Pathology: A Prospective Case-Control Study on Tear Film Cytokine Levels.

Mediators Inflamm 2019 12;2019:9416262. Epub 2019 Nov 12.

Department of Ophthalmology, Visual Optics and Visual Rehabilitation, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, ANT, Belgium.

Pterygium is a common eye disease, linked to an increased exposure to UV radiation and dry environments. The associated pathology culminates in visual impairment and, in some rare cases, blindness. However, there remains a lot of uncertainty concerning the pathogenesis of this fibrovascular lesion. As the composition of the tear film provides a reflection into the pathological changes at the ocular surface, tear analysis represents an ideal approach to gain insight in the progression of disease following pterygiectomy. This study enrolled 19 patients and age/gender-matched healthy controls. Tear film levels of interleukin- (IL-) 6, IL-8, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were investigated over time, and preoperative concentrations were linked to corneal neovascularization and pterygium size. Diminished tear film levels were found in unilateral patients who show no clinical signs of pterygium recurrence over a period of one year. Hence, our results highlight the potential of using the course of IL-6, IL-8, and VEGF levels in tears as biomarkers for recovery. In addition, when focusing on the affected eyes (i.e., primary and recurrent pterygium), we detected fold changes in preoperative cytokine concentrations to correspond with disease severity. As our proposed biomarkers did not reveal a linear relationship with corneal neovascularization nor the invasive behaviour of pterygium, no exact role in the pterygium pathology could be established. Hence, our data point to these factors being contributors rather than decisive players in the pathological processes.
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May 2020

Study protocol: a single-blind, multi-center, randomized controlled trial comparing dynamic intraligamentary stabilization, internal brace ligament augmentation and reconstruction in individuals with an acute anterior cruciate ligament rupture: LIBRƎ study.

BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2019 Nov 18;20(1):547. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Department of Radiology, Antwerp University Hospital, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650, Edegem, Belgium.

Background: The current gold standard for the treatment of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is reconstruction with tendon graft. Recently, two surgical ACL repair techniques have been developed for treating an acute ACL rupture: Dynamic Intraligamentary Stabilization (DIS, Ligamys®) and Internal Brace Ligament Augmentation (IBLA, InternalBrace™). We will conduct a single-blind, multi-center, randomized controlled trial which compares DIS, IBLA and reconstruction for relative clinical efficacy and economic benefit.

Methods: Subjects, aged 18-50 years, with a proximal, primary and repairable ACL rupture will be included. DIS is preferably performed within 4 weeks post-rupture, IBLA within 12 weeks and reconstruction after 4 weeks post-rupture. Patients are included in study 1 if they present within 0-4 weeks post-rupture and surgery is feasible within 4 weeks post-rupture. Patients of study 1 will be randomized to either DIS or IBLA. Patients are included in study 2 if they present after 4 weeks post-rupture and surgery is feasible between 5 and 12 weeks post-rupture. Patients of study 2 will be randomized to either IBLA or reconstruction. A total of 96 patients will be included, with 48 patients per study and 24 patients per study arm. Patients will be followed-up for 2 years. The primary outcome is change from baseline (pre-rupture) in International Knee Documentation Committee score to 6 months post-operatively. The main secondary outcomes are the EQ-5D-5 L, Tegner score, Lysholm score, Lachman test, isokinetic and proprioceptive measurements, magnetic resonance imaging outcome, return to work and sports, and re-rupture/failure rates. The statistical analysis will be based on the intention-to-treat principle. The economic impact of the surgery techniques will be evaluated by the cost-utility analysis. The LIBRƎ study is to be conducted between 2018 and 2022.

Discussion: This LIBRƎ study protocol is the first study to compare DIS, IBLA and ACL reconstruction for relative clinical efficacy and economic benefit. The outcomes of this study will provide data which could aid orthopaedic surgeons to choose between the different treatment options for the surgical treatment of an acute ACL rupture.

Trial Registration: This study is registered at; NCT03441295. Date registered 13.02.2018.
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November 2019

The role of sperm DNA fragmentation testing in predicting intra-uterine insemination outcome: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2020 Jan 22;244:8-15. Epub 2019 Oct 22.

Centre for Reproductive Medicine - Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650 Edegem, Belgium. Electronic address:

There is a growing body of literature that recognizes the importance of sperm DNA fragmentation as a candidate test for the assessment of sperm function and thus male reproductive potential. Research on the subject has mostly been focused on couples undergoing IVF/ICSI treatment whilst much uncertainty still exists about the relationship between sperm DNA fragmentation and IUI. This study systematically reviews the literature, aiming to define the value of sperm DNA fragmentation measurement in predicting clinical pregnancy outcome in couples undergoing intra-uterine insemination From inception until March 2018, the relevant databases were searched for studies investigating the relationship between sperm DNA fragmentation as measured by SCSA, TUNEL, SCD or Comet assay and pregnancy outcome after IUI. The Quality in Prognosis Studies (QUIPS) tool was utilized for quality assessment. This review is reported according to the 2009 PRISMA statement. The literature search resulted in 433 studies of which we finally retained nine studies for the qualitative analysis and four studies for the meta-analysis, accounting for 940 IUI cycles. In summary, the observed effect of low sperm DNA fragmentation on clinical pregnancy after IUI as analyzed with the random effects model reveals a relative risk of 3.15 (95% CI: 1.46-6.79; I2 = 13.1%) and pooled sensitivity and specificity of respectively 94% (95% CI: 0.88; 0.97) and 19% (95% CI: 0.14; 0.26). Taken together, the included studies show a limited capacity of sperm DNA fragmentation in discriminating between couples who will benefit from the test, namely in either predicting IUI outcome or in advising for or against IUI as first choice of treatment instead of advancing to more invasive medically assisted reproduction. This review has thrown up many questions in need of further investigation. As such, future studies might explore issues such as determining relevant cut-off values for prediction of spontaneous pregnancy and pregnancy after IUI as well as the assessment of the stability of the test over time and before and after density gradient centrifugation.
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January 2020

154 compared to 54 mmol per liter of sodium in intravenous maintenance fluid therapy for adult patients undergoing major thoracic surgery (TOPMAST): a single-center randomized controlled double-blind trial.

Intensive Care Med 2019 10 1;45(10):1422-1432. Epub 2019 Oct 1.

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Antwerp University Hospital, Wilrijkstraat 10, Edegem, 2650, Antwerp, Belgium.

Purpose: To determine the effects of the sodium content of maintenance fluid therapy on cumulative fluid balance and electrolyte disorders.

Methods: We performed a randomized controlled trial of adults undergoing major thoracic surgery, randomly assigned (1:1) to receive maintenance fluids containing 154 mmol/L (Na154) or 54 mmol/L (Na54) of sodium from the start of surgery until their discharge from the ICU, the occurrence of a serious adverse event or the third postoperative day at the latest. Investigators, caregivers and patients were blinded to the treatment. Primary outcome was cumulative fluid balance. Electrolyte disturbances were assessed as secondary endpoints, different adverse events and physiological markers as safety and exploratory endpoints.

Findings: We randomly assigned 70 patients; primary outcome data were available for 33 and 34 patients in the Na54 and Na154 treatment arms, respectively. Estimated cumulative fluid balance at 72 h was 1369 mL (95% CI 601-2137) more positive in the Na154 arm (p < 0.001), despite comparable non-study fluid sources. Hyponatremia < 135 mmol/L was encountered in four patients (11.8%) under Na54 compared to none under Na154 (p = 0.04), but there was no significantly more hyponatremia < 130 mmol/L (1 versus 0; p = 0.31). There was more hyperchloremia > 109 mmol/L under Na154 (24/35 patients, 68.6%) than under Na54 (4/34 patients, 11.8%) (p < 0.001). The treating clinicians discontinued the study due to clinical or radiographic fluid overload in six patients receiving Na154 compared to one patient under Na54 (excess risk 14.2%; 95% CI - 0.2-30.4%, p = 0.05).

Conclusions: In adult surgical patients, sodium-rich maintenance solutions were associated with a more positive cumulative fluid balance and hyperchloremia; hypotonic fluids were associated with mild and asymptomatic hyponatremia.
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October 2019

Low-flow mediated constriction as a marker of endothelial function in healthy pregnancy and preeclampsia: A pilot study.

Pregnancy Hypertens 2019 Jul 10;17:75-81. Epub 2019 Feb 10.

Laboratory for Cellular and Molecular Cardiology and Department of Cardiology, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium; Research Group Cardiovascular Diseases, Translational Pathophysiological Research, University of Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium.

Objectives: Overwhelming clinical evidence exists on disturbed vascular and endothelial function in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia (PE). In a non-pregnant (NP) population, L-FMC (low-flow mediated constriction) provides insight in the 'resting' endothelial capacity in contrast to the gold standard of flow mediated dilatation (FMD), reflecting endothelial nitric oxide bioavailability.

Study Design: Longitudinal follow-up of 100 healthy pregnant (HP) women, 33 PE women and 16 NP controls with non-invasive vascular assessments. HP women were evaluated at 12 and 35 weeks of gestation and at 6 months postpartum. PE patients were assessed at diagnosis (mean 30 weeks) and 6 months postpartum.

Main Outcome Measures: Endothelial function (L-FMC, FMD, peripheral arterial tonometry (PAT)) and arterial stiffness (pulse wave velocity (PWV) and analysis (PWA)) were measured at the different visits and compared between groups.

Results: Overall endothelial dysfunction is present in PE (FMD HP 9.09 ± 4.20 vs PE 5.21 ± 4.47, p = 0.0004; L-FMC HP -1.90 ± 2.66 vs PE -0.40 ± 2.09, p = 0.03). L-FMC gradually elevates during the course of a HP (1st trim -0.31 ± 1.75 vs 3rd trim -1.97 ± 3.02, p < 0.0001) and is present in 85% of women in the third trimester. In NP, only 27% of women has L-FMC. In PE, L-FMC is present in 50% of cases. Arterial stiffness is increased in PE (all p < 0.0001). There is no correlation between L-FMC and other markers of vascular function (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: PE is characterized by dysfunction of both resting and recruitable endothelial capacity. This study offers new insights in different aspects of endothelial function in pregnancy, since L-FMC reflects an adaptation in HP that is absent in PE.
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July 2019

Comparison of the Power of Procalcitonin and C-Reactive Protein to Discriminate between Different Aetiologies of Fever in Prolonged Profound Neutropenia: A Single-Centre Prospective Observational Study.

Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis 2019 1;11(1):e2019023. Epub 2019 Mar 1.

Department of Haematology, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium.

Management of fever in prolonged, profound neutropenia remains challenging with many possible infectious and non-infectious causes. We investigated whether procalcitonin (PCT) is superior to C-reactive protein (CRP) in discriminating between different aetiologies of fever in this setting. CRP and PCT were tested daily during 93 neutropenic episodes in 66 patients. During this study period, 121 febrile episodes occurred and were classified into four categories based on clinical and microbiological findings: microbiologically documented infection (MDI); clinically documented infection (CDI); proven or probable invasive fungal disease (IFD); fever of unknown origin (FUO). Values of PCT and CRP at fever onset as well as two days later were considered for analysis of their performance in distinguishing aetiologies of fever. At fever onset, no significant difference in PCT values was observed between different aetiologies of fever, whereas median CRP values were significantly higher in case of IFD (median 98.8 mg/L vs 28.8 mg/L, p=0.027). Both PCT and CRP reached their peak at a median of 2 days after fever onset. Median PCT values on day 2 showed no significant difference between the aetiologies of fever. Median CRP values on day 2 were significantly higher in IFD (median 172 mg/L versus 78.4 mg/L, p=0.002). In MDI median CRP values rose > 100 mg/L, whereas they did not in CDI or FUO. PCT has no added value over CRP for clinical management of fever in prolonged, profound neutropenia. When performing reassessment 2 days after fever onset, CRP has better discriminatory power between aetiologies of fever.
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March 2019

Assessment of Anterolateral Complex Injuries by Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Patients With Acute Rupture of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament.

Arthroscopy 2019 02 3;35(2):521-527. Epub 2019 Jan 3.

Department of Orthopedics, Antwerp University Hospital and University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Purpose: To assess anterolateral complex (ALC) injuries in patients with acute anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Methods: Patients with acute ACL rupture who underwent ACL surgery between 2015 and 2017 and underwent MRI within 6 weeks of the initial trauma were included. Two radiologists assessed magnetic resonance images retrospectively for the status of the ALC, including the iliotibial band (ITB), Kaplan fibers, and anterolateral ligament (ALL), as follows: grade 0, normal; grade 1, periligamentous edema; grade 2, partial tear; and grade 3, complete tear. The findings were analyzed using the Friedman test and weighted κ values.

Results: Sixty-nine MRI scans were reviewed. Of the 69 patients, 51% had associated injuries to the ITB (grade 1, n = 31; grade 2, n = 4), 33% had associated injuries to the Kaplan fibers (grade 1, n = 21; grade 2, n = 2), and 57% had associated injuries to the ALL (grade 1, n = 12; grade 2, n = 22; grade 3, n = 5). We found a significant difference in the frequency and grading between ITB, Kaplan fiber, and ALL injuries (P ≤ .032). Inter-reader agreement for assessing the ALC on MRI was almost perfect (κ ≥ 0.922).

Conclusions: On the basis of MRI analysis, ALL injuries were found with varying degrees of severity and intensity with noted injuries to associated surrounding fibers in patients with acute ACL rupture.

Level Of Evidence: Level IV, case series.
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February 2019

Anterior cruciate ligament repair with Independent Suture Tape Reinforcement: a case series with 2-year follow-up.

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2019 Jan 31;27(1):60-67. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland.

Purpose: The treatment of acute anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures with a repair technique has recently regained interest. A novel ACL repair technique was described using Independent Suture Tape Reinforcement with 2-year follow-up results.

Methods: Forty-two consecutive patients with an acute ACL rupture undergoing repair using this technique were followed up for a minimum of 2 years. Patients with mid-substance, distal ACL ruptures, poor ACL tissue quality or retracted ACL remnants as well as patients with multi-ligament injuries were excluded. Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS), Visual Analogue Pain Scale (VAS-pain), Veterans RAND 12 Item Health Survey (VR-12) and the Marx Activity scale were collected by online questionnaires. Two-year postoperative patients were asked by telephone if they had experienced a rerupture.

Results: All the KOOS subscales improved significantly in comparison to the preoperative score. The largest improvement of all scores was seen at 3 months postoperatively which is significant in all cases. The KOOS sport and recreation showed a meaningful change and the largest improvement of the KOOS subscales at 3 months postoperatively, as well as the highest total improvement at 1 year postoperatively compared to preoperatively. The VAS-pain and VR-12 physical score improved significantly, however the Marx activity scale decreased significantly in comparison to preoperative scores. Two patients reported a rerupture (4.8%, CI 1.7-11.2%).

Conclusions: This is the first case series that described the 2-year follow-up results of patients with an acute, proximal ACL rupture, treated with the Independent Suture Tape Reinforcement repair technique. A meaningful KOOS sport and recreation change and significant improvements in the KOOS, VAS-pain and VR-12 physical scores as well as a significant decrease of the Marx activity scale in comparison to preoperative scores are demonstrated. Two of the 42 patients (4.8%) reported an ACL rerupture. Repair with this technique could be clinically relevant as a treatment option for patients with an acute, proximal ACL rupture which is not retracted and of good tissue quality.

Level Of Evidence: IV.
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January 2019

The introduction of a rapid response system in acute hospitals: A pragmatic stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial.

Resuscitation 2018 08 18;129:127-134. Epub 2018 Apr 18.

Department of Emergency Medicine, Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650 Edegem, Belgium.

Aim: Deterioration of hospitalised patients is often missed, misinterpreted, and mismanaged. Rapid Response Systems (RRSs) have been proposed to solve this problem. This study aimed to investigate the effect of an RRS on the incidence of unexpected death, cardiac arrest with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and unplanned intensive care unit (ICU) admission.

Methods: We conducted a stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled trial including 14 Belgian acute care hospitals with two medical and two surgical wards each. The intervention comprised a standardised observation and communication protocol including a pragmatic medical response strategy. Comorbidity and nurse staff levels were collected as potential confounders.

Results: Twenty-eight wards of seven hospitals were studied from October 2013 until May 2015 and included in the final analysis. The control group contained 34,267 patient admissions and the intervention group 35,389. When adjusted for clustering and study time, we found no significant difference between the control and intervention group in unexpected death rates (1.5 vs 0.7/1000, OR 0.82, 95%CI 0.34-1.95), cardiac arrest rates (1.3 vs 1.0/1000, OR 0.71, 95%CI 0.33-1.52) or unplanned ICU admissions (6.5 vs 10.3/1000, OR 1.23, 95%CI 0.91-1.65).

Conclusion: Our intervention had no significant effect on the incidence of unexpected death, cardiac arrest or unplanned ICU admission when adjusted for clustering and study time. We found a lower than expected baseline incidence of unexpected death and cardiac arrest rates which reduced the statistical power significantly in this study.
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August 2018

Maintenance fluid therapy and fluid creep impose more significant fluid, sodium, and chloride burdens than resuscitation fluids in critically ill patients: a retrospective study in a tertiary mixed ICU population.

Intensive Care Med 2018 04 27;44(4):409-417. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Antwerp University Hospital, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650, Edegem, Antwerp, Belgium.

Purpose: Research on intravenous fluid therapy and its side effects, volume, sodium, and chloride overload, has focused almost exclusively on the resuscitation setting. We aimed to quantify all fluid sources in the ICU and assess fluid creep, the hidden and unintentional volume administered as a vehicle for medication or electrolytes.

Methods: We precisely recorded the volume, sodium, and chloride burdens imposed by every fluid source administered to 14,654 patients during the cumulative 103,098 days they resided in our 45-bed tertiary ICU and simulated the impact of important strategic fluid choices on patients' chloride burdens. In septic patients, we assessed the impact of the different fluid sources on cumulative fluid balance, an established marker of morbidity.

Results: Maintenance and replacement fluids accounted for 24.7% of the mean daily total fluid volume, thereby far exceeding resuscitation fluids (6.5%) and were the most important sources of sodium and chloride. Fluid creep represented a striking 32.6% of the mean daily total fluid volume [median 645 mL (IQR 308-1039 mL)]. Chloride levels can be more effectively reduced by adopting a hypotonic maintenance strategy [a daily difference in chloride burden of 30.8 mmol (95% CI 30.5-31.1)] than a balanced resuscitation strategy [daily difference 3.0 mmol (95% CI 2.9-3.1)]. In septic patients, non-resuscitation fluids had a larger absolute impact on cumulative fluid balance than did resuscitation fluids.

Conclusions: Inadvertent daily volume, sodium, and chloride loading should be avoided when prescribing maintenance fluids in view of the vast amounts of fluid creep. This is especially important when adopting an isotonic maintenance strategy.
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April 2018

Introducing TOPMAST, the first double-blind randomized clinical trial specifically dedicated to perioperative maintenance fluid therapy in adults.

Anaesthesiol Intensive Ther 2017;49(5):366-372. Epub 2017 Nov 24.

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Ziekenhuis Netwerk Antwerpen, Campus Stuivenberg, Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: Although prescribed to every patient undergoing surgery, maintenance fluid therapy is a poorly researched part of perioperative fluid therapy. The tonicity of the chosen solutions, could be an important cause of morbidity, with hyponatremia being a potential side effect of hypotonic solutions, where isotonic solution could lead to fluid overload.

Methods: The TOPMAST-trial is an ongoing prospective single-center double-blind randomized trial comparing an isotonic and a hypotonic maintenance fluid strategy during and after surgery in patients undergoing different types of major thoracic surgery. Patients receive NaCl 0.9% in glucose 5% with an added 40 mmol L-1 of potassium chloride or a premixed solution containing 54 mmol L-1 sodium, 55 mmol L-1 chloride and 26 mmol of potassium at a rate of 27 mL per kg of body weight per day. The primary hypothesis is that isotonic maintenance solutions cause a more positive perioperative fluid balance than hypotonic fluids. Different secondary safety endpoints will be explored, especially the effect of the study treatments on the occurrence electrolyte disturbances (e.g. hyponatremia, hyperchloremia) and a set of clinical endpoints. Efficacy endpoints include the need for resuscitation fluids and assessment of renal and hormonal adaptive mechanisms. An anticipated 68 patients will be included between March 2017 and January 2018.

Discussion: The study will provide the most comprehensive evaluation of clinically important outcomes associated with the choice of perioperative maintenance fluid therapy.
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November 2018

Pathogenetic role of endothelial nitric oxide synthase uncoupling during lung ischaemia-reperfusion injury.

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 2017 Aug;52(2):256-263

Department of Thoracic Surgery, Antwerp University, Antwerp, Belgium.

Objectives: Ischaemia-reperfusion injury is a necessary part of organ transplantation and a key determinant of both acute and chronic graft failure. We have assessed the contribution of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and eNOS uncoupling to oxidative and nitrosative stress formation during lung ischaemia-reperfusion injury dependent on ischaemia time.

Methods: Forty eNOS wild-type mice (eNOS +/+ ) and 40 eNOS knock-out mice (eNOS -/- ) received either a sham thoracotomy or 60 or 90 min of ischaemia, followed by 0, 1 or 24 h of reperfusion. Lung tissue was analysed with electron spin resonance for NO production and reactive oxygen species content. Protein nitrosation, eNOS and eNOS uncoupling were determined using western blotting. In peripheral blood, arterial blood gases were taken and reactive oxygen species content was determined.

Results: eNOS +/+ mice had lower reactive oxygen species production in their peripheral circulation but worse blood gas values after 1 h of reperfusion. Lung tissue of eNOS -/- mice showed lower reactive oxygen species and NO production and lower protein nitrosation compared with wild-type mice. Longer ischaemia times result in more elaborate oxidative and nitrosative stress dependent on eNOS genotype. Structural eNOS uncoupling was present after 60 min of ischaemia but diminished after 90 min of ischaemia.

Conclusions: eNOS uncoupling may contribute to lung ischaemia-reperfusion injury and inflammation. This ultimately leads to worse clinical outcome. Stabilizing eNOS may therefore be a new approach to extend pulmonary graft survival.
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August 2017

Skin hydration in nursing home residents using disposable bed baths.

Geriatr Nurs 2016 May-Jun;37(3):175-9. Epub 2015 Dec 24.

Curando OLV van 7 Weeën vzw, Pensionaatstraat 8a, 8755 Ruiselede, Belgium.

The objective of this study was to evaluate a new way for applying bed baths and reducing the risk for dry skin by comparing the effect of two washing methods on skin hydration. A cluster randomized trial was conducted. Skin hydration was measured before and after implementation of disposable wash gloves, using a MoistureMeter SC at three skin sites. Total skin hydration did not differ between residents at the start of the study in both groups. After implementation, the post minus pre hydration scores were higher for the intervention group than the control group at all skin sites. However, the difference was only significant at cheek site. The use of disposable wash gloves does not increase the risk for dry skin in comparison with traditional washing methods. These results may encourage the introduction of disposable wash gloves as an innovation in daily skin care practice.
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April 2017

Prescribing preferences in rapid tranquillisation: a survey in Belgian psychiatrists and emergency physicians.

BMC Res Notes 2015 Jun 5;8:218. Epub 2015 Jun 5.

Faculteit geneeskunde en gezondheidswetenschappen, Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatric Research Institute (CAPRI), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Background: The pharmacotherapeutic management of agitation is a common clinical challenge. Pharmacotherapy is frequently used, the use of published guidelines is not known. The purpose of this study was twofold; to describe the prescribing patterns of psychiatrists and emergency physicians and to evaluate to which extent guidelines are used.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium is carried out in 39 psychiatric hospitals, 11 psychiatric wards of a general hospital and 61 emergency departments. All physicians are asked for demographic information, their prescribing preferences, their use of guidelines and the type of monitoring (effectiveness, safety). For the basic demographic data and prescription preferences descriptive statistics are given. For comparing prescribing preferences of the drug between groups Chi square tests (or in case of low numbers Fisher's exact test) were performed. Mc Nemar test for binomial proportions for matched-pair data was performed to see if the prescription preferences of the participants differ between secluded and non-secluded patients.

Results: 550 psychiatrist and emergency physicians were invited. The overall response rate was 20% (n = 108). The number 1 preferred medication classes were antipsychotics (59.3%) and benzodiazepines (40.7%). In non-secluded patients, olanzapine (22.2%), lorazepam (21.3%) and clotiapine (19.4%) were most frequently picked as number 1 choice drug. In secluded patients, clotiapine (21.3%), olanzapine (21.3%) and droperidol (14.8%) were the three most frequently chosen number 1 preferred drugs. Between-group comparisons show that emergency physicians prefer benzodiazepines significantly more than psychiatrists do. Zuclopenthixol and olanzapine show a particular profile in both groups of physicians. Polypharmacy is more frequently used in secluded patients. Published guidelines and safety or outcome monitoring are rarely used.

Conclusions: Our results show that prescription practice in Flanders (Belgium) in acute agitation shows a complex relationship with published guidelines. Prescription preferences differ accordingly to medical specialty. These findings should be taken into account in future research.
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June 2015

Feasibility of applying review criteria for depression and osteoporosis national guidance in primary care.

Prim Health Care Res Dev 2014 Oct 14;15(4):396-405. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

1Institute of Health and Society,Newcastle University,Newcastle upon Tyne,UK.

Background: Data on the uptake of clinical guidelines into practice are essential to guide and evaluate quality improvement interventions. Organizations responsible for service specification, monitoring and improvement need to consider the practicality of and trade-offs made in different data collection methods. We examined the feasibility of deriving and applying review criteria for clinical guidelines in English primary care.

Methods: We selected two sets of guidance, on osteoporosis and depression, and used a consensus process to derive review criteria. We manually extracted data on adherence to review criteria from patient records in 20 general practices from three NHS primary care trusts in northern England. We compared the relative utility of extracted data with that of routinely available data, summarizing feasibility using what we termed a Resource Ratio.

Results: Of 53 proposed review criteria we assessed, 41 were judged clinically important, valid, relevant and measurable. Thirty-one could be assessed in 10% or more of sampled patients, whereas 15 could be readily extracted (resource ratio of 15 or less). Only eight met all desirable attributes for use as review criteria. Resource ratios correlated poorly with local stakeholders' prior views on feasibility of data collection. We observed wide variations in compliance with review criteria, with notably low levels among self-care standards.

Conclusions: A minority of guideline recommendations were suitable for review criteria development, fewer still when using routinely available data. Local stakeholders tend to underestimate the actual resource requirements of data collection. Although improved design and use of clinical records may facilitate measurement of adherence to recommended practice, detailed assessments are still likely to rely upon some degree of manual data collection in the foreseeable future.
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October 2014

Changes in voice quality after speech-language therapy intervention in older children with cerebral palsy.

Folia Phoniatr Logop 2013 1;65(4):200-7. Epub 2014 Feb 1.

Institute of Health and Society University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, Great Britain.

Objective: We examined whether perceived voice quality is altered in a group of children with cerebral palsy (CP) following an intervention focusing on respiration and phonation, and whether possible improvements might be associated with increased intelligibility levels.

Methods: Sixteen individuals with CP and dysarthria (9 girls, mean age 14 years, SD = 2; 9 with spastic type CP, 2 dyskinetic, 4 mixed, 1 Worster-Drought syndrome) completed intelligibility assessments on separate days twice before intervention, at termination of treatment and at 6-week follow-up using 50 words from the Children's Speech Intelligibility Measure lists, and describing cartoon strips. Experienced speech-language pathologists rated voice quality employing GRBAS scales.

Results: There was no clear evidence that change in voice quality pre-post intervention was large compared with change in the pre-intervention or post-intervention periods. Asthenia demonstrated largest improvement (effect size of 0.4). Intelligibility correlated weakly with Grade, Breathiness and Asthenia, but not with Roughness or Strain. A deterioration of 1 unit on the Grade and Asthenia scales was associated with an approximately 11% decrease in intelligibility.

Conclusion: Perceived changes in voice quality were small compared to changes in intelligibility. Further investigations must examine other variables potentially associated with intelligibility gain to better understand the links between the respiratory-phonatory intervention and improved intelligibility.
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October 2015

Evaluation of adding item-response theory analysis for evaluation of the European Board of Ophthalmology Diploma examination.

Acta Ophthalmol 2013 Nov 8;91(7):e573-7. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Department of Ophthalmology, Antwerp University Hospital, Antwerp, BelgiumDepartment of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium;Department of Ophthalmology, King's College Hospital, London, UK;Department of Scientific Research and Statistics, Antwerp University Hospital, Antwerp, Belgium;Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK;Department of Ophthalmology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Dijon, France;Department of Ophthalmology, Maastricht Universitair Medisch Centrum (MUMC), Maastricht, The NetherlandsUniversity Eye Clinic, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Purpose: To investigate whether introduction of item-response theory (IRT) analysis, in parallel to the 'traditional' statistical analysis methods available for performance evaluation of multiple T/F items as used in the European Board of Ophthalmology Diploma (EBOD) examination, has proved beneficial, and secondly, to study whether the overall assessment performance of the current written part of EBOD is sufficiently high (KR-20≥ 0.90) to be kept as examination format in future EBOD editions.

Methods: 'Traditional' analysis methods for individual MCQ item performance comprise P-statistics, Rit-statistics and item discrimination, while overall reliability is evaluated through KR-20 for multiple T/F items. The additional set of statistical analysis methods for the evaluation of EBOD comprises mainly IRT analysis. These analysis techniques are used to monitor whether the introduction of negative marking for incorrect answers (since EBOD 2010) has a positive influence on the statistical performance of EBOD as a whole and its individual test items in particular.

Results: Item-response theory analysis demonstrated that item performance parameters should not be evaluated individually, but should be related to one another. Before the introduction of negative marking, the overall EBOD reliability (KR-20) was good though with room for improvement (EBOD 2008: 0.81; EBOD 2009: 0.78). After the introduction of negative marking, the overall reliability of EBOD improved significantly (EBOD 2010: 0.92; EBOD 2011:0.91; EBOD 2012: 0.91).

Conclusion: Although many statistical performance parameters are available to evaluate individual items, our study demonstrates that the overall reliability assessment remains the only crucial parameter to be evaluated allowing comparison. While individual item performance analysis is worthwhile to undertake as secondary analysis, drawing final conclusions seems to be more difficult. Performance parameters need to be related, as shown by IRT analysis. Therefore, IRT analysis has proved beneficial for the statistical analysis of EBOD. Introduction of negative marking has led to a significant increase in the reliability (KR-20 > 0.90), indicating that the current examination format can be kept for future EBOD examinations.
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November 2013

Intensive dysarthria therapy for younger children with cerebral palsy.

Dev Med Child Neurol 2013 May 26;55(5):464-71. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate if intervention targeting breath support, phonation, and speech rate increases speech intelligibility and participation in the conversational interactions of younger children with dysarthria and cerebral palsy (CP).

Method: Fifteen children with dysarthria and CP (nine males, six females; age range 5-11 y, mean age 8 y, SD 2 y; CP type: eight spastic, four dyskinetic, one ataxia, two Worster Drought syndrome; Gross Motor Function Classification System levels II-IV, median level II) participated in this study. Children received three sessions of individual therapy per week for 6 weeks. Intelligibility of single words and connected speech was compared across five points: 1 and 6 weeks before therapy and 1, 6, and 12 weeks after therapy. Three familiar listeners and three unfamiliar listeners scored each recording. Participation in communicative interactions was measured using the Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS) tool. Analyses of variance and paired t-tests were used to investigate change.

Results: Mean speech intelligibility increased after therapy to familiar listeners (single words 10.8%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 7.2-14.4; connected speech 9.4%, 95% CI 4.8-14.1) and unfamiliar listeners (single words 9.3%, 95% CI 6.8-11.8; connected speech 10.5%, 95% CI 7.3-13.8). FOCUS scores increased following therapy for parents (mean increase 30.3, 95% CI 10.2-50.4) and for teachers (28.25, 95% CI 14.4-42.1), but changes did not correlate with intelligibility. A wide variation was seen in individual responses to therapy.

Interpretation: Brief intensive therapy is associated with gains in intelligibility and communicative interactions for some younger children with dysarthria.
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May 2013

History and future of the European Board of Ophthalmology Diploma examination.

Acta Ophthalmol 2013 Sep 3;91(6):589-93. Epub 2012 May 3.

Department of Ophthalmology, Antwerp University Hospital, Belgium.

Purpose: The European Board of Ophthalmology Diploma (EBOD) examination has evolved over the last few years, especially with the introduction of negative marking (-0.5 points) for incorrect or blank answers (0 points for don't know option), which aimed to improve the quality and reliability of the examination.

Methods: In 2010, negative marking at the written part of the EBOD examination has been introduced in an attempt to improve not only the reliability of the examination as entity but also the statistical performance parameters of the individual questions. As lower pass rates and discrimination of female candidates are feared by the general public when negative marking is concerned, these parameters have been explicitly investigated.

Results: Introduction of negative marking has not only lead to improved reliability of the EBOD examination (increased Cronbach's alpha value: ≤0.80 without and ≥0.90 with negative marking), but also to improved statistical performance parameters of the individual questions. The pass rate of the EBOD examination has proven to remain at the same high level as without negative marking (around 90%). Furthermore, although female candidates do seem to have different answering strategies (p < 0.01, use of don't know option), no statistically significant difference has been found between total scores of male and female candidates (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: Introduction of negative marking at the written EBOD examination has proven to be beneficial, not only for the organizers (improvement of the statistical performance of the examination and its questions), but also for candidates (better discrimination with borderline candidates). These results have been obtained without evidence of lower pass rates or discrimination of female candidates.
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September 2013

Impacts of unit-level nurse practice environment and burnout on nurse-reported outcomes: a multilevel modelling approach.

J Clin Nurs 2010 Jun;19(11-12):1664-74

Department of Nursing, University Hospital Antwerp, B- 2650 Edegem, Belgium.

Aim: To investigate impacts of practice environment factors and burnout at the nursing unit level on job outcomes and nurse-assessed quality of care in acute hospital nurses.

Background: Prior research has consistently demonstrated correlations between nurse practice environments and nurses' job satisfaction and health at work, but somewhat less evidence connects practice environments with patient outcomes. The relationship has also been more extensively documented using hospital-wide measures of environments as opposed to measures at the nursing unit level.

Design: Survey.

Method: Data from a sample of 546 staff nurses from 42 units in four Belgian hospitals were analysed using a two-level (nursing unit and nurse) random intercept model. Linear and generalised linear mixed effects models were fitted including nurse practice environment dimensions measured with the Revised Nursing Work Index and burnout dimensions of the Maslach Burnout Inventory as independent variables and job outcome and nurse-assessed quality of care variables as dependent variables.

Results: Significant unit-level associations were found between nurse practice environment and burnout dimensions and job satisfaction, turnover intentions and nurse-reported quality of care. Emotional exhaustion is a predictor of job satisfaction, nurse turnover intentions and assessed quality of care as well besides various nurse work practice environment dimensions. Nurses 'ratings of unit-level management and hospital-level management and organisational support had effects in opposite directions on assessments of quality of care at the unit; this suggests that nurses' perceptions of conditions on their nursing units relative to their perceptions of their institutions at large are potentially influential in their overall job experience.

Conclusion: Nursing unit variation of the nurse practice environment and feelings of burnout predicts job outcome and nurse-reported quality of care variables.

Relevance To Clinical Practice: The team and environmental contexts of nursing practice play critical roles in the recruitment and retention of nurses, and as well as in the quality of care delivered. Widespread burnout as a nursing unit characteristic, reflecting a response to chronic organisational stressors, merits special attention from staff nurses, physicians, managers and leaders.
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June 2010

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the forearm in motocross racers: findings on MRI.

Skeletal Radiol 2009 Dec 17;38(12):1153-61. Epub 2009 Jul 17.

Department of Radiology, Antwerp University Hospital, Antwerp, Belgium.

Introduction: The purpose of this prospective study was to demonstrate the findings of MRI in motocross racers with chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) of the forearm.

Materials And Methods: Racers with proven CECS and without CECS and male individuals not involved in strenuous activities with the forearm were included. Signal intensity (SI) and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) obtained before and after exercise were compared (D-SNR).

Results: Magnetic resonance imaging after exercise showed an increase in SI and SNR in the muscles on T2-WI. The SI increase was obvious in the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) and profundus (FDP) in all CECS patients. In addition, a minor SI and SNR increase in the extensor carpi radialis longus (ECRL) was noted. In the non-symptomatic group of motocross racers, there was only a minor increase in SI and the SNR, which was similar in the FDP and ECRL muscles. In the untrained individuals a remarkable increase in the SI and SNR of the FDS/FDP-ECRL was noted. This increased SI and SNR was not present in the majority of non-symptomatic racers.

Conclusion: Post-exertional MRI produces significant findings in CECS of the forearm. The motocross racers without post-exertional oedema in the FDP/FDS had no CECS.
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December 2009