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BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 08 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1298

If, like Minerva, you are baffled by the explosion of acronyms in clinical trials, head for an article in the American Heart Journal (1999;137:726-65) which translates over 2000 acronyms in cardiology trials. You can then spend hours making up sentences with them to test your friends. Try MONICA WINS FANTASTIC DIAMOND, or RUTH SIPS ICED SPICED TEAS. Daftest and most baffling acronym of all, however, is TITS, which stands for Tetrofosmin International Trial Study group. Things must have been desperate at trial headquarters that day.

Activated charcoal is a common treatment for many forms of poisoning despite a dearth of evidence that it actually saves lives. Worse, evidence is accumulating that it may be toxic, particularly if aspirated into the lungs (Clinical Toxicology 1999;37:9-16). A laboratory experiment in rats showed that aspirated charcoal causes direct damage to lungs, independent of any damage caused by acidic gastric contents. Aspiration is the biggest potential problem with activated charcoal, which was previously thought to be inert.

An epidemiological study of severe ankle fractures finds that middle aged women are most likely to be injured while walking but young men tend to be injured playing rugby (Australia and New Zealand Journal of Surgery 1999;69:220-3). The authors aren't sure what …

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