Few medical journals specifically instruct authors to use the active voice and avoid the passive voice, but advice to that effect is common in the large number of stylebooks and blogs aimed at medical and scientific writers. Such advice typically revolves around arguments that the passive voice is less clear, less direct, and less concise than the active voice, that it conceals the identity of the person(s) performing the action(s) described, that it obscures meaning, that it is pompous, and that the high rate of passive-voice usage in scientific writing is a result of conformity to an established and old-fashioned style of writing. Some of these arguments are valid with respect to specific examples of passive-voice misuse by some medical (and other) writers, but as arguments for avoiding passive-voice use in general, they are seriously flawed. In addition, many of the examples that stylebook writers give of inappropriate use are actually much more appropriate in certain contexts than the active-voice alternatives they provide. In this review, I examine the advice offered by anti-passive writers, along with some of their examples of “inappropriate” use, and argue that the key factor in voice selection is sentence word order as determined by the natural tendency in English for the topic of discourse (“old” information) to take subject position and for “new” information to come later. Authors who submit to this natural tendency will not have to worry much about voice selection, because it will usually be automatic.
Steroid psychosis is a frequent complication of steroid treatment. Although perioperative steroid replacement therapy is generally administered in patients undergoing pituitary surgery, there are no previous reports concerning the development of steroid psychosis after perioperative steroid replacement therapy following pituitary surgery. We herein report a case of steroid psychosis induced by perioperative steroid replacement therapy for pituitary surgery. A 35-year-old man presented with a visual disturbance that had persisted for 1 year. A magnetic resonance imaging scan showed a large pituitary tumor, and a laboratory study revealed slight dysfunction of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. The patient was diagnosed with a non-functioning pituitary tumor and underwent tumor resection via the endoscopic endonasal approach. The initial dose of perioperative steroid replacement therapy was 200 mg of hydrocortisone administered immediately before the operation. The replacement dose was gradually tapered and discontinued over a 7-day period. On postoperative day 4, the patient exhibited an elated mood, grandiose delusions, anxiety, and agitation. We diagnosed these psychiatric symptoms as steroid psychosis induced by steroid replacement and we prescribed risperidone as a treatment. The symptoms gradually improved and did not recur. This case highlights the risk of steroid psychosis following treatment with perioperative steroid replacement therapy for pituitary adenoma and raises questions regarding the appropriateness of perioperative steroid replacement for pituitary adenoma.