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J Neurol. 2008 Nov;255(11):1743-9. doi: 10.1007/s00415-008-0019-3. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

Second opinions and tertiary referrals in neurology: a prospective observational study.

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Academic Medical Centre, Dept. of Neurology, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The number of neurological second opinions (SO) and tertiary referrals (TR) is increasing. The main purpose of this study was to assess whether a day-care admission made a meaningful contribution to standard neurological outpatient care, for a wide range of second opinions and tertiary referrals.


All new patients attending an academic neurological day-care clinic in a 6-month period were investigated. Before admission, all previous medical correspondence and ancillary investigations were reviewed. On the day of admission, extensive time was available for clinical evaluation and additional ancillary investigations and an attempt was made to come to a final diagnosis. Demographic characteristics, duration of symptoms, patient satisfaction, new diagnoses and treatment consequences were studied.


300 patients (183 SO and 117 TR) were evaluated. In total 103 patients (35 %) received a new diagnosis (26 % SO vs. 48 % TR, p < 0.001) and 69 (67 %) of these had therapeutic implications. A new treatment advice was given to a total of 149 patients (50 %), which was similar in both groups (48 % vs. 53 %). Second opinions were considered medically less relevant than tertiary referrals (39 % vs. 64 %, p < 0.001). The number of new diagnoses differed largely between various diagnosis categories. Especially somatoform disorders and radicular syndromes were often newly diagnosed.


A high number of second opinion and tertiary referral patients benefits from a day-care admission in a neurological outpatient clinic. Careful selection for referral of patients who will benefit from daycare admission may even enlarge the diagnostic and therapeutic yield.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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