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Medical Diagnoses M-Z

Mother had syphilis

This is rather common in Russian medical reports. Syphilis has been on the rise in Russia for the past several years. Russian pediatricians are very alert to the possibility of maternal infection. Mothers are routinely screened in the third trimester of pregnancy and proper treatment is given. If maternal history is unknown, the possibility of congenital syphilis is considered and investigations of the infant obtained. Subsequent treatment and follow-up are adequate. Some follow up blood work is necessary to confirm it is cured, but the prognosis is good. RW test is short for Reaction Wasserman, which is equivalent to the Western VDRL test for syphilis.

Patent oval window

This refers to open foramen ovale, the normal embryological connection between the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. It is not considered a heart defect (not the same as atrial septal defect ASD).

Perinatal encephalopathy

This can also be referred as PEP and can be seen in nearly 60% of all children’s medicals. It is considered to be due to “chronic intrauterine hypoxia.” This is not to be confused with asphyxia, which refers to problems during delivery. Typically PE will be described as having an ishemic, chemical, traumatic or mixed origin. Usually the diagnosis is stated without corroborating medical evidence–physical findings are not noted, and laboratory or diagnostic studies are not mentioned. The medical theory behind this diagnosis is based on particularities of Russian medical concepts of pathophysiology. Most consultants questioned have not been able to give a clear explanation of the term. It can be applied solely on the basis of history (known or suspected during pregnancy). Tremor is often mentioned upon questioning the physicians. They will describe the tremor of fingers or chin when child is crying which is considered a sign of PE (in the West this might be termed a “fussy baby”). Perinatal encephalopathy does not correspond to the Western diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

Residual organic CNS impairment resulting in asteno-neurotic syndrome (CNS stands for Central Nervous System)

This diagnosis means a child with a weakened nervous system that may (or may not) reveal itself later in learning or attentional difficulties. This is another “catch-all” term often used in Russian medical documents to indicate a child “at risk”. (An asteno-neurotic syndrome is a term unknown in American medical nomenclature and means weakness, exhaustion as if occurred after a long severe illness.


This means Reaction of Wassermann (test for syphilis still in use in Russia, but outdated in this country). This is mostly a screening test for syphilis still in use in Russia. It is known to produce “false positives”, but is very good for discovering “true negatives”. Negative means – no syphilis, while positive indicates only that antibodies are present and more testing is necessary.

Spastic tetraparesis or paraparesis, muscular hypertonus, pyramidal syndrome, pyramidal insufficiency syndrome, perinatal insult of the CNS, natal trauma of the cervical spine

These are frequently used terms which arise from Russian pathophysiology concepts. They are all basically referring to the same “disorder” which is associated with the belief that there is cranial and spinal cord trauma at the time of birth and that trauma manifests itself through changes in muscle tone. It is generally treated conservatively and is considered to have a good prognosis. This “disorder” does not correspond to the Western diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Diagnoses are often kept if the child is older than a year. It is frequently used as a contradiction to giving immunizations, with the thought that vaccinations may exhaust the immune system and prevent complete resolution of condition.

Umbilical hernia

This a minor abdominal muscular weakness. This condition is commonly seen in a premature babies.