EM Reflections – October 2018

Thanks to Dr. Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

 

Trauma – Secondary Survey

DNAR Considerations 

ED Neonatal Equipment

 


Trauma – Secondary Survey

The secondary survey is performed once the primary survey and resuscitation has been completed.

The secondary survey does not begin until the primary survey (ABCDEs) is completed, resuscitative efforts are underway, and the normalization of vital functions has been demonstrated. When additional personnel are available, part of the secondary survey may be conducted while the other personnel attend to the primary survey. In this setting the conduction of the secondary survey should not interfere with the primary survey, which takes first priority. ATLS 9e

This means that on occasions trauma patients may be transferred to the OR or ICU before the secondary survey has been completed. The secondary survey is a thorough head to toe examination including where indicated adjunct investigations e.g limb radiographs. This assessment must be carefully performed and documented. It should not be rushed.

If there is not enough time to complete a thorough secondary survey (e.g patient transferred to OR during primary survey) then this should be communicated to the surgeon or other responsible physician (e.g ICU) and the documentation should reflect this.

We would recommend that all trauma patients admitted to the ICU undergo a repeat secondary survey assessment as part of the standard admission process. In some systems this is referred to as a Tertiary survey.

This systematic review reports a reduction missed injury rate when a tertiary survey is used as part of a trauma system.

Trauma.org article on tertiary survey


DNAR Considerations 

The CMPA provides excellent guidance for clinicians considering Do Not Attempt Resuscitation orders. CMPA Website

CMPA – Key Concepts for End of Life Issues

  • The best interests of the patient are paramount.

  • The capable patient has the right to consent to or refuse medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatment.

  • Thoughtful and timely advance care planning, discussion, and documentation of a patient’s wishes and healthcare goals can help avoid misunderstandings.

  • Physicians should be familiar with any relevant laws and regulatory authority (College) policies concerning end-of-life care, and the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment, and medical assistance in dying.

  • When considering placing a do-not-resuscitate order in the medical record, or acting upon a do-not-resuscitate order, consent from the patient or substitute decision-maker is advisable. It may also be helpful and appropriate to consult with physician colleagues and the patient’s family to determine support for the order.

  • Decisions about withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment that is considered futile or not medically indicated should be discussed with the patient, or the substitute decision-maker on behalf of an incapable patient. When consensus is not achieved despite discussions with the substitute decision-maker, the family, and others such as ethics consultants, patient advocates, and spiritual advisors, it may be necessary to make an application to the court (or an administrative body) or seek intervention from the local public guardian’s office.

  • Physicians considering a request for medical assistance in dying should be familiar with the eligibility criteria set out in the Criminal Codewith applicable provincial legislation, and with applicable regulatory authority (College) guidelines.

  • Physicians should be familiar with the role of advance directives (including living wills).

  • End-of-life decisions should be carefully documented in the patient’s medical record.

Horizon Health, NB uses these accepted Canadian DNAR definitions:

 


 

ED Neonatal Equipment

Perinatal Services BC, Canada have published an excellent document – Standards for Neonatal Resuscitation

It includes this Appendix for suggested Radiant Warmer Equipment checklist:

 

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EM Reflections – September 2018

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

 

Pediatric Head Injury

Clonazepam Toxicity

Pediatric(< 3 months)Fever

Wide Complex Tachycardia

 


Pediatric Head Injury

  • What are the criteria for CT Head?

In a recent Lancet article (2017),  PECARN, CATCH and CHALICE were compared.

The highest point validation sensitivities were shown for PECARN in children younger than 2 years (100·0%, 95% CI 90·7–100·0; 38 patients identified of 38 with outcome [38/38]) and PECARN in children 2 years and older (99·0%, 94·4–100·0; 97/98)

  • How do I use PECARN?


 

A useful review by EM Cases can be accessed here. In an update to this review they have noted recent new evidence that isolated vomiting without any other positive rule predictors may warrant observation only:

Update 2018:  A secondary analysis of the Australasian Paediatric Head Injury Rule Study demonstrated head injury with isolated vomiting (i.e. vomiting without any of clinical decision rule predictors) was uncommonly associated with TBI on CT, or the presence of clinically important TBI.  This study suggests a strategy of observation without head CT may be appropriate management.  Abstract

Vomiting alone should not instigate CT.  Risk goes up with any other Head Injury symptoms (Headache etc). These children should be observed until they are able to tolerate oral intake and the treating clinician feels comfortable that the patient is stable without additional symptoms of head injury.

This article discusses linear skull fractures. It reminds us to always consider Non-Accidental Injury in all cases of pediatric head injury, especially in the pre-mobile age group.

PoCUS may have a role to play in fine tuning risk stratification and a recent study (2018) has further evaluated diagnostic accuracy:

We enrolled a convenience sample of 115 of 151 (76.1%) eligible patients. Of the 115 enrolled, 88 (76.5%) had skull fractures. POCUS had a sensitivity of 80 of 88 (90.9%; 95% CI 82.9-96.0) and a specificity of 23 of 27 (85.2%; 95% CI 66.3-95.8) for identifying skull fractures.

  • If I don’t perform a CT, then how long should a child with a head injury be observed?

There is no definite evidence-based answer to this question. However this study suggest that 6 hrs is probably safe.

Key Points

  1. Always use a clinical decision rule to determine whether a child with head injury requires CT, Observation or can be safely discharged
  2. When using a decision rule utilize a ‘shared decision-making’ philosophy – i.e involve the parents/carers
  3. A period of observation can reduce the number of CTs performed.
  4. If observation is recommended, then allow 6hrs.
  5. Always consider non-accidental injury during your assessment of pediatric head injury.

 

 


 

Clonazepam Toxicity

  • Overdosage of clonazepam may produce somnolence, confusion, ataxia, diminished reflexes, or coma
  • Clonazepam is extensively metabolized in the liver to several metabolites
  • Clonazepam is rapidly and well absorbed from the GI tract
  • Peak blood concentrations are reached in 2 -4 hours
  • Elimination half-life … 18.7 to 39 hr

Full ToxNet entry

Treatment

Treatment is entirely supportive with IV access and fluids and maintenance of the airway and ventilation if required

Oral activated charcoal is of little value in pure benzodiazepine poisoning. It may be given to patients who have recently ingested benzodiazepines with other drugs that may benefit from decontamination

Flumazenil is rarely indicated except for iatrogenic oversedation or respiratory depression. In addition, flumazenil may cause withdrawal states and result in seizures, adrenergic stimulation, or autonomic instability in patients chronically taking benzodiazepine, or in those with ventricular dysrhythmias and seizures who are concomitantly using cocaine or tricyclic antidepressants.

Dispostion

All patients with intentional ingestion or significant ataxia, drowsiness, or respiratory depression should be observed.

Patients with severe symptoms (ie, coma, respiratory failure, or hypotension unresponsive to IV fluids) should be consulted to ICU.

Given the prolonged half-life patients strongly consider admitting patients who present with significant drowsiness or are known to have taken a large overdose.

Patients with a significant sedative drug overdose should be advised not to drive until potential interference with psychomotor performance has resolved. For significant benzodiazepine overdose, this is at least 24 hours after discharge.

Key Points

  1. Clonazepam overdose is treated with supportive measures.
  2. Clonazepam has a very long half-life. For significant drowsiness, admission should be considered to avoid potentially very long ED observation periods.

 


Pediatric (< 3 months) Fever

The management of fever in infants less than 1 month is relatively straightforward. Guidelines are generally consistent (Merck,

  • Full blood lab work-up (CBC, CRP, Cultures)
  • Urine culture
  • CXR
  • RSV, Flu nasal swabs
  • LP
  • Empiric IV Antibiotics (e.g Ampicillin 50mg/kg and Cefotaxime 50mg/kg)
  • Consult Pediatrics and Admit

Emergency Medicine Cases article can be viewed here – Episode 48 – Pediatric Fever Without A Source

*********

For infants older than 30 days and younger than 3 months the guidelines are variable:

ALiEM: Paucis Verbis: Fever without a source (29 days-3 months old)

NICE Guidelines (UK):  Fever in under 5s: assessment and initial management

MD Calc – Step-by-Step Approach Calculator 

Suggested Emergency Department Approach

  • If Sick-Appearing treat as <3 months (see above)
  • If Well- Appearing (age normal vitals):
    • Full blood lab work-up (CBC, CRP, Cultures)
    • Urine culture
    • Consider CXR
    • Consult Pediatrics (Depending on results of above will either need admission +/- antibiotics or 24hr follow-up)

Yukon Guidelines


 

Wide Complex Tachycardia

Differential Diagnosis (note: repetition is deliberate!)

  • Ventricular Tachycardia
  • Ventricular Tachycardia
  • Ventricular Tachycardia
  • SVT with aberrant conduction – lots of causes
    • Pre-existing/rate-related BBB
    • Ventricular pre-excitation (AVNRT/AVRT)
    • Dysfunction of IV conduction system (toxic, metabolic, infectious, drug related etc) – hyper K, sodium channel blockers

No ‘rule’ is specific enough to correctly identify, so treat like VT

Treatment 

  • Unstable?
    • ANY sign of end-organ dysfunction – hypotension, altered LOC, CHF/SOB, CP, diaphoretic etc
    • SHOCK
  • Stable?
    • Shock or medical management
    • Amiodarone vs procainamide, ?adenosine (see below)

Adenosine/vagal – consider in patients where uncertain of diagnosis, unlikely to be VT, no hx of CAD, young, hx of SVT

Adenosine with WPW – ContraIndicated – may induce AV block and accelerate conduction of atrial fibrillatory impulses through the bypass tract, which can lead to very rapid ventricular arrhythmias that degenerate to VF.

“Avoidance of IV beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and digoxin due to the potential for hemodynamic deterioration in patients with stable WCT, potentially resulting in hypotension, VF and cardiac arrest”. (Uptodate)

Verapamil and diltiazem are calcium channel blockers (CCBs) that should be avoided in WCTs, as cardiac arrests from hemodynamic collapse have been reported following their administration.  Not only do these agents cause negative inotropy and at times profound vasodilation, but they may also allow WCTs to degenerate into VFIB

Caveat – RRWCT (Regular Really Wide Complex Tachy)

  • One situation where you may not want to assume VT….
  • What question should you ask?
    • What is the K,
    • what is the OD?
  • Really, really wide complex tachycardia – >200 mseconds – consider tox or metabolic – try bicarb or calcium – if it narrows – not VTach.
  • Avoid procainamide and amiodarone in these patients.

 

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EM Reflections – June 2018

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

Button Battery Ingestions

Acetaminophen Overdose / Poisoning – Delayed Presentation

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – Follow-Up


 

Button Battery Ingestions

Button Battery Ingestion

 

Take Home Points:

  • Button battery ingestions are can potentially be very serious. Necrosis, perforation and erosion into vessels can occur in as little as 2 hours
  • ALL nasal and esophageal button batteries should be removed within 2 hours of presentation to minimize mucosal damage
  • Consider button battery ingestion in children presenting with dysphagia, refusal to eat and hematemesis
  • Co-ingestion of a button battery with a magnet requires emergency removal regardless of where it is in the GI system
  • Early GI consult is advised

The management algorithm form National Capital Poison Center covers all eventualities! (Click to enlarge)

 


 

Acetaminophen Overdose / Poisoning – Delayed Presentation

Take Home Points:

  • N-acetylcystine (NAC) is a safe and effective antidote. Time to NAC is crucial to protect the liver from significant toxicity.
  • Stated timing and dose are often unreliable and this needs to be taken into consideration.
  • NAC is almost 100% effective if administered within 8hrs of ingestion.
  • If time of ingestion is known for certain to be < 4hrs ago – draw blood for level at 4hrs post ingestion and use nomogram to determine who to treat.
  • If time of ingestion is known for certain to be < 8hrs ago – draw blood for level immediately and use nomogram to determine who to treat (provide result can be obtained within 8 hrs – otherwise start NAC pending result)
  • If time of ingestion is known for certain to be > 8hrs and < 24hrsCommence NAC and draw blood for level immediately and use nomogram to determine whether to continue NAC.
  • If time of ingestion is > 24hrs or unknown or ingestion is staggered – Commence NAC and draw blood for level immediately – Consult toxicology for advice – Only if level is undetectable and AST is normal then NAC can be discontinued, otherwise continue NAC and consult.

View the SJRHEM Acetaminophen Poisoning post here (includes Nomograms and NAC dosing):

New Acetaminophen Poisoning Guidelines from the Royal College of EM

See also this useful NEJM Review Article

For Children, this guideline is useful.

  • Presenting between 4-24 hours (Time of ingestion is known)- use nomogram to determine who to treat.


 

  • Presenting after 24 hours or time of ingestion unknown or ingestion spans > 24hrs

From: UpToDate

 


 

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – Admit or Follow-Up

Take Home Points:

  • All TIA patients need an ECG and baseline labs (CSBP recommended labs)
  • Very High Risk TIA Patients (see below) should have a CT/CTA (or MRI/MRA) immediately
  • High Risk TIA Patients (see below) should have a CT/CTA (or MRI/MRA) within 24hrs
  • All TIAs should be followed up in a specialist TIA Clinic
  • TIA’s + large artery stenosis – candidate for early revascularization (the sooner it is done the better the prognosis)

 

Full Canadian Stroke Best Practice Guideline can be viewed here

 

UpToDate: These results suggest that CEA is likely to be of greatest benefit if performed within two weeks of the last neurologic event in patients with ≥70 percent carotid stenosis. For patients with 50 to 69 percent stenosis, CEA may only have benefit if performed within two weeks of the last event.

 

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EM Reflections – April 2018

Thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

 

Ondansetron (Zofran) and QTi

Globe Rupture

Ovarian Torsion

 


 

Ondansetron (Zofran) and QTi

  • Ondansetron prolongs QTi in a dose-dependent manner
  • Patient is most at risk for an arrhythmia when peak serum levels are reached
    • Largest difference in QTi was found at 15 minutes (IV), but has seen to persist up to 120 min in heart failure patients.
  • Arrhythmia after a single dose is EXCEEDINGLY RARE
    • No reports of arrhythmia after a single dose of oral ondansetron.
    • Consider ECG monitoring (or use another anti-emetic agent) in patients who are receiving IV ondansetron with other arrhythmogenic factors such as QTi prolonging agents or electrolyte abnormalities

Ondansetron and QTc Prolongation: Clinical Significance in the ED

 


 

Globe Rupture

  • When should you suspect?
    • Mechanism – severe blunt, penetrating, metal-on-metal
  • Signs of open globe include:
    • penetrating lid injury,
    • bullous subconjunctival hemorrhage
    • shallow anterior chamber
    • blood in the anterior chamber (hyphema),
    • peaked pupil
    • iris disinsertion (iridodialysis)
    • lens dislocation, and
    • vitreous hemorrhage. Loss of red reflex can indicate vitreous hemorrhage or retinal detachment.

The EyeRounds.org website has some useful tutorials.

 

Management 

  • Stop Examination
  • NO PATCH – Use Eyes Shield
  • Consult Ophthalmology immediately
  • NPO, Tetanus, IV Antibiotics, analgesia and antiemetics

Download (PDF, 181KB)

 


 

Ovarian Torsion

  • Uptodate:  It is one of the most common gynecologic emergencies and may affect females of all ages
  • Most common ages 20-50 years
  • Acute onset pain with adnexal mass
  • As size of mass increases, risk of torsion increases
    • #1 RF is ovarian mass >5 cm
    • benign > malignant
  • Increased risk during pregnancy, fertility treatments
  • U/S test of choice, although normal doppler does not rule out torsion
  • CT not diagnostic, although if you had a CT that didn’t show an ovarian mass of >5cm, unlikely it was torsion…
  • 86-95% of patients with torsion have a mass (exception – pediatric population – more likely to have torsion with normal ovaries)
  • Pediatric patients – early surgical detorsion more likely to be successful
  • >36 hours – non-viable

A useful recent review can be viewed here

CoreEM provides another useful summary (as well as a huge amount of other EM Topics)

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EM Reflections – March 2018

Thanks to Dr. Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – Size matters, but it isn’t everything

CME QUIZ

 

 


Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – Which patients require urgent consult / transfer ?

AAA is a disease of older age. The prevalence of AAA among men aged 65 to 80 is 4 to 6 times higher than in women of the same age. The Canadian Task Force on Preventative Healthcare have recently (2017) made the following recommendations on screening:

Recommendation 1: We recommend one-time screening with ultrasound for AAA for men aged 65 to 80. (Weak recommendation; moderate quality of evidence)

Recommendation 2: We recommend not screening men older than 80 years of age for AAA. (Weak recommendation; low quality of evidence)

Recommendation 3: We recommend not screening women for AAA. (Strong recommendation; very low quality of evidence)

 

Emergency Physicians are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of ruptured AAA (hypotension, tachycardia, pulsatile abdominal mass, back pain) and are always on the lookout for those curveball presentations e.g renal colic mimic, syncope, sciatica etc.

With the organization of centralized vascular services predominating in the majority of developed national health systems, patients with ruptured AAAs are now being transferred for specialist care. Recent evidence from the UK suggests that this practice is safe with no observed increased mortality or length of stay. and other studies have shown a benefit, with reduced mortality post service-centralization.

While there maybe benefits of centralization for patients, vascular surgeons and health economies, the initial management of the patient with AAA disease can be increasingly challenging for the Emergency Physician, especially if they are located in a peripheral hospital.

Let us consider a few scenarios:

  • A 70yr old man presents to a peripheral hospital (without CT), 120km from the vascular centre, with severe back pain and hypotension. Point of Care Ultrasound (PoCUS) confirms the diagnosis of a 7.5cm AAA.

This scenario is relatively straightforward. The patient is judiciously resuscitated (avoiding aggressive fluid infusion), and transferred, after discussion with on-call vascular surgery, as quickly as possible directly to the receiving hospital’s vascular OR.

 

  • A 70yr old man presents to a peripheral hospital (without CT), 120km from the vascular centre, with moderate flank pain and normal vital signs. They are known to have a 3.7cm AAA (last surveillance scan 6 months ago). PoCUS confirms the presence of an AAA measuring approx. 3.7cm. Urinalysis is negative.

This scenario is also relatively straightforward. While the cause of the flank pain has not been determined, the risk of AAA rupture is highly improbable. For men with an AAA of 4.0 cm or smaller, it takes more than 3.5 years to have a risk of rupture greater than 1%. Given the stable vital signs, low pain score and lack of significant change in AAA size, this patient can be safely worked-up initially at the peripheral hospital pending transfer for abdominal CT if diagnosis remains unclear or symptoms change.

 

  • A 70yr old man presents to a peripheral hospital (without CT), 120km from the vascular centre, with moderate flank pain and normal vital signs. They have no past medical history. PoCUS confirms the presence of a new 4.7cm AAA.  

This scenario starts to become more challenging. Is the AAA leaking? Is the AAA rapidly expanding? Has PoCUS accurately measured the AAA size, Is the AAA causing the symptoms or is there another diagnosis? While this AAA is still below the elective repair size (5.5cm), the rate of growth is not know (and this is important), 4.7cm AAAs do occasionally rupture and rapidly expanding AAA’s can cause pain (the phenomena is more common in inflammatory and mycotic aetiologies). In this scenario the safest approach would be to organize transfer for an urgent CT and to arrange for Vascular Surgey consult immediately thereafter.

 

 

Salmonella aortitis may appear after a febrile gastroenteritis. The common location of primary aortitis and aneurysm formation is at the posterior wall of the suprarenal or supraceliac aorta – . 2010; 3(1): 7–15.

 

Aortitis is the all-encompassing term ascribed to inflammation of the aorta. The most common causes of aortitis are the large-vessel vasculitides including GCA and Takayasu arteritis. The majority of cases of aortitis are non-infectious, however an infectious cause must always be considered, as treatment for infectious and non-infectious aortitis is significantly different.

This article provides a detailed summary of the diagnosis and management of Aortitis

 


CME QUIZ

EM Reflections - March 2018 - CME Quiz

EM Reflections – March 2018 – CME Quiz

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EM Reflections – February 2018

Thanks to Dr. Paul Page for leading the discussions this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 


 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

Pleuritic Chest Pain – Don’t forget the Abdomen

Headache – Not always Migraine

Epistaxis – Posterior Bleed

CME QUIZ

 


Pleuritic Chest Pain – Don’t forget the Abdomen

The commonest causes of pleuritic chest pain (pleurisy) presenting to the ED include:

  • Pulmonary embolus
  • Pneumonia
  • Pericarditis
  • Myocardial infarct
  • Pneumothorax

Once these have been ruled out consider the following differential diagnosis:

ref: American Family Physician (May 2007)

 

Another differential to consider is:

Perforated peptic ulcer

This can result in localized sub-diaphragmatic peritonitis that can result in pleuritic chest pain

 

Tips:

  • If a CT Chest has been performed – look for free air under the diaphragm
  • Always document an abdominal exam when assessing a patient with pleuritic chest pain
  • Although radiologists are highly skilled, like any physician, they are not infallible. Conservative estimates suggest an error rate of 4%. See this excellent article: The Epidemiology of Error in Radiology and Strategies for Error Reduction
  • Wherever possible physicians should always review the images from CT and X-Ray prior to reading the formal radiology report.

Arrows depicting free air on erect CXR – note the double stomach bubble sign on the left

Free air seen on lower slice of CT Chest. Easily mistaken for bowel

 

 


Headache – Not always migraine

The commonest cause of headache presenting to the ED is migraine

The features of migraine headache are well documented in this article – The diagnosis and treatment of chronic migraine

 

The differential diagnosis for patients presenting with headache is large. This excellent website (https://ddxof.com/) provides algorithms to help consider the differential diagnosis in the cardinal EM presentations.

From: DDxof.com

 

Another differential to consider is:

Anemia

Sub-acute onset anemia secondary to chronic blood loss e.g menorrhagia, chronic GI bleed, etc can present with fatigue, visual disturbance and headache.

Tips:

  • Patients who present to ED with a new headache (no previous hx of primary headache syndrome or change in symptoms) should have baseline investigations including CBC and Glucose.
  • Always review the paramedic and triage notes for supplementary information and the presence of additional symptoms that may broaden or narrow the differential.
  • Patient ethnicity and skin colour may mask the presence of anemia.

 

 

 

 


Epistaxis – Posterior Bleed

Posterior epistaxis is a difficult condition to manage and is associated with a number of acute and serious complications. In this study, 3.7% required intubation.

The #FOAM Blog post provides an excellent outline to the management of posterior epistaxis – EMDocs.net

The Emergency Department Management of Posterior Epistaxis

 

Posterior Nasal Packing – video

 

 

Tips:

  • All cases of major bleeding, including epistaxis should be initially managed in the highest acuity areas of the ED. Patients can then be rapidly stepped down and relocated to lower acuity areas if determined to be lower risk after initial assessment.
  • Consider using a suction device to aid intubation in cases of massive obscuring oro/naso-pharynx haemorrhage.

PulmCrit: Large-bore suction for intubation: strategies & devices

 


 

 

CME QUIZ

EM Reflections - Feb 18 - CME Quiz

EM Reflections – Nov 17 – CME Quiz

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EM Reflections – January 2018

Thanks to Dr Joanna Middleton for leading the discussion this month and providing these tips and references.

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 

  1. Occult Fractures of the Upper Limb

  2. Door to Needle/Balloon Times

  3. Mycotic Aneurysms

  4. CME Quiz


Occult Fractures of the Upper Limb

In patients (particularly the elderly)who present with upper limb pain following a fall or other trauma, be careful not to miss an occult fracture. Localization may be impaired by dementia, acute confusion or other soft tissue injuries. Commonly missed fractures of the upper limb include:

  • Clavicle fracture
  • Supracondylar fracture
  • Radial Head/Neck fracture
  • Buckle fractures of the radius/ulna
  • Scaphoid fracture
  • Carpal dislocation
  • Any impacted fracture

Impacted fractures of the humeral neck may still allow some shoulder joint movement. Pain can be referred to the elbow (just as some hip injuries have pain referred to the knee).

When a fracture is strongly suspected ensure that the entire bone is included in the radiograph. If localization is impaired consider obtaining radiographs of the entire limb, starting with the most symptomatic area. Also follow the old mantra – “include the joint above and below” when ordering radiographs for suspected fracture.

Commonly missed fractures in the ED

Misses and Errors in Upper Limb Trauma Radiographs

 


Strategies to reduce door to ballon time

Delays in door to balloon time for the treatment of STEMI have been shown to increase mortality.

 

 

JACC 2006 Click on here for full text

 

BMJ 2009 – Click here for full text

 

This evidence has led to an international effort to establish strategies that can reduce door to balloon times

This rural program in the USA published their strategy for reducing door to ballon times below 90mins over a 4 year period. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109710043810. Their strategies included the following:

2005
• Community hospital physicians visited by interventional cardiologist with recommendations to:

∘ Perform ECG within 10 min of arrival for chest pain patients

∘ Communicate with PCI center physicians via dedicated STEMI hotline

∘ Treat and triage patients without consulting with primary physicians

∘ Give aspirin 325 mg chewed, metoprolol 5 mg IV × 3 when not contraindicated, heparin 70 U/kg bolus without infusion, sublingual nitroglycerin or optional topical nitropaste without routine intravenous infusion, and clopidogrel 600 mg PO

∘ Eliminate intravenous infusions of heparin and nitroglycerin.

2006
• Nurse coordinator hired to oversee program and communicate with emergency department personnel at all referring hospitals.

• Recommendations for medications listed above were formally endorsed for all STEMI patients.

• Formal next-day feedback provided to referring hospitals, including diagnostic and treatment intervals and patient outcomes.

• Quarterly “report cards” issued to each referring hospital emergency department.

2007
• PCI hospital emergency physicians directly activated the interventional team (instead of discussing it first with the interventional cardiologist on call).

• A group page was implemented for simultaneous notification of all members of the interventional team and catheterization laboratory staff of an incoming STEMI patient.
ECG = electrocardiogram; IV = intravenous; PCI = percutaneous coronary intervention; PO = by mouth; STEMI = ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction.

 

However recent commentaries have highlighted the pitfall of this metric

 

The Challenges and Pitfalls of Door-to-Balloon Time as a Performance Metric

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/537538

 

and further evidence has shown no improvement in mortality despite reducing door to balloon times. However, it should be noted that these centres were already achieving < 90 min.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1208200

This may be a result of multiple confounding factors:

total ischemic time may be a more important clinical variable than door-to-balloon time

it has been suggested that the association between door-to-balloon time and mortality may be affected by an “immigration bias” – healthier patients are likely to have shorter door-to-balloon times than are sicker patients with more complex conditions, for whom treatment may be delayed because of the time needed for medical stabilization

 

Whilst strategies to ever reduce door to balloon times may not be the correct focus to reduce overall mortality, it is clear that the presence of significant delays (>90mins) is associated with increased mortality.

 


Mycotic Aneurysms

Any kind of infected aneurysm, regardless of its pathogenesis. Such aneurysms may result from bacteremia and embolization of infectious material, which cause superinfection of a diseased and roughened atherosclerotic surface.

 

Aneurysmal degeneration of the arterial wall as a result of infection that may be due to bacteremia or septic embolization 

  • Symptoms:  pulsatile mass, bruit, fever
  • Risk Factors:  arterial injury, infection, atherosclerosis, IV drug use
  • #1 cause = staph, #2 = salmonella

Download (PDF, 1.14MB)

 


 

CME QUIZ

EM Reflections - Jan 18 - CME Quiz

EM Reflections – Jan 18 – CME Quiz

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EM Reflections – December 2017

Thanks to Dr Joanna Middleton for leading the discussion this month and providing these tips and references.

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

Incomprehensible Patient – Delirium or Aphasia?

Pediatric Trauma

CME QUIZ

 

Take Home Points

  • Sudden onset language impairment should be assumed to be aphasia until proven otherwise
  • Aphasia is most commonly caused by CVA and usually has associated lateralising motor signs (but not always)
  • Aphasic patients will be able to perform non-verbal tasks normally
  • If in doubt involve telestroke / neurology early
  • Global aphasia can have a catastrophic outcome on quality of life. In selected patients, early thrombolysis can significantly improve prognosis.
  • The injuries sustained by children in chest trauma are frequently different from adults
  • Signs of shock in pediatric trauma can be subtle
  • Use evidence based guidelines e.g PECARN when considering CT for abdominal trauma
  • Elevated Tropinin or abnormal ECG suggest blunt cardiac injury

 


Incomprehensible Patient – Delirium or Aphasia?

Both can present with disorders of speech and language, however it is important to rapidly distinguish aphasia due to it’s association with stroke and the benefits of early thrombolysis.

Delirium, also known as acute confusional state, is an organically caused decline from a previously baseline level of mental function. It often has a fluctuating course, attentional deficits, and disorganization of behaviour including speech and language.

Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain, most commonly from a stroke, but also trauma, tumour or infection.

 

The first tip here is to figure out how to describe the features of a patient’s language. How is the patient’s language produced and understood?

Are the words clearly enunciated (favoring aphasia) or slurred (favoring delirium)?

Is the patient’s speech grammatically correct (delirium) or lacking in appropriate syntax (aphasia)?

Is the patient’s prosody—or pattern of speech—fluent (delirium) or irregular (aphasia)?

Can the patient understand spoken language (delirium) or is there a major difficulty with following simple verbal/written commands (aphasia)?

Naming and repetition should also be assessed as part of any neurologic examination, but impairment in these modalities is not as useful in distinguishing delirium from aphasia.

The motor evaluation of inattention in a delirious patient involves testing for asterixis, either with arms and wrists fully extended or having the patient squeeze the fingers of the examiner (the “milk maid’s sign”). A delirious patient will struggle with these tasks, the extended hands may flap or the fingers may intermittently lose their grip. The aphasic patient, in contrast, may not have trouble with this.

Speak of the devil: Aphasia vs. delirium

 

Global Aphasia

  • Severe impairment of production, comprehension and repetition of language
  • Usually large CVA of left MCA
  • Usually associated with extensive perisylvian injury affecting both Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas
  • Usually accompanied by right hemiparesis and often a right visual field deficit (in right handed pt)
  • Patients with global aphasia can be shown to perform normally on nonverbal tasks such as picture matching, demonstrating they are not suffering from confusion or dementia

 

Stroke Thrombolysis – Indications and Contraindications Reminder

Patient Selection for Thrombolytic Therapy in AIS:

Inclusion criteria: Patients  >18 years of age with symptoms of AIS and a measurable neurological deficit with time of onset <4.5 h.

Exclusion criteria:

A. History

  • History of intracranial hemorrhage
  • Stroke, serious head injury or spinal trauma in the preceding 3 months
  • Recent major surgery, such as cardiac, thoracic, abdominal, or orthopedic in previous 14 days
  • Arterial puncture at a non-compressible site in the previous 7 days
  • Any other condition that could increase the risk of hemorrhage after rt-PA administration

B. Clinical

  • Symptoms suggestive of subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Stroke symptoms due to another non-ischemic acute neurological condition such as seizure with post-ictal Todd’s paralysis or focal neurological signs due to severe hypo- or hyperglycemia
  • Hypertension refractory to antihypertensives such that target blood pressure <185/110 cannot be achieved
  • Suspected endocarditis

C. Laboratory

  • Blood glucose concentration below 2.7 mmol/L or above 22.2 mmol/L
  • Elevated activated partial-thromboplastin time (aPTT)
  • International Normalized Ratio (INR) greater than 1.7
  • Platelet count <100 x 109/L
  • Current use of direct thrombin inhibitors or direct factor Xa inhibitors with elevated insensitive global coagulation tests (aPTT for dabigatran, INR for rivaroxaban) or a quantitative test of drug activity (Hemoclot® for dabigatran, specific anti-factor Xa activity assays for rivaroxaban, apixaban and edoxaban). In this situation, endovascular treatment (thrombectomy) should be considered if patient eligible.

D. CT or MRI Findings

  • Any hemorrhage on brain CT or MRI
  • CT showing early signs of extensive infarction (hypodensity more 1/3 of cerebral hemisphere), or a score of less than 5 on the Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score [ASPECTS], or MRI showing an infarct volume greater than 150 cc on diffusion-weighted imaging.

Relative contraindications for rt-PA therapy in AIS include the following:

  • Recent myocardial infarction with suspected pericarditis
  • Rapidly improving stroke symptoms
  • Pregnancy or post-partum period
  • Recent GI or urinary tract hemorrhage (within 21 days)

From Thrombosis Canada

Take Home Points

  • Sudden onset language impairment should be assumed to be aphasia until proven otherwise
  • Aphasia is most commonly caused by CVA and usually has associated lateralising motor signs (but not always)
  • Aphasic patients will be able to perform non-verbal tasks normally
  • If in doubt involve telestroke / neurology early
  • Global aphasia can have a catastrophic outcome on quality of life. In selected patients, early thrombolysis can significantly improve prognosis.

 


Pediatric Trauma

Some specific issues particular to pediatric trauma are highlighted:

Pediatric Chest Trauma

Children have compliant chests and thus sustain musculoskeletal thoracic injuries far less frequently (5% of traumas). However, due to this elasticity, the most common injury is a pulmonary contusion.

PITFALLS

Don’t expect traditional adult injury findings: Absence of chest tenderness, crepitus and flail chests does not preclude injury.

Bendy ribs – injury to internal organs with little external evidence

Lung contusions ~50% of chest trauma

Force transmitted to lung parenchyma – lung lacerations much less common <2%

 

Pediatric Abdominal Trauma

Beware: 20-30% of pediatric trauma patients with a “normal” abdominal exam will have significant abdominal injuries on imaging.

Any polytrauma patient with hemodynamic instability should be considered to have a serious abdominal injury until proven otherwise. Tachycardia primary reflex for kids in response to hypovolemia and it may be the only sign of shock.

HIGH RISK – Indications for CT

• History that suggests severe intra-abdominal injury e.g abrupt acceleration/deceleration, pedestrian vs vehicle, handlebar injury, fall from horse etc

• Concerning physical – tenderness, peritoneal signs, seatbelt sign or other bruising

• AST >200 or ALT >125

• Decreasing Hb or Hct

• Gross hematuria

• Positive FAST

PECARN 

The Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) network derived a clinical prediction rule to identify children (median age, 11 years) with acute blunt torso trauma at very low risk for having intra-abdominal injuries (IAIs) that require acute intervention.

The prediction rule consisted of (in descending order of importance)

  • no evidence of abdominal wall trauma or seat belt sign
  • Glasgow Coma Scale score greater than 13
  • no abdominal tenderness
  • no evidence of thoracic wall trauma
  • no complaints of abdominal pain
  • no decreased breath sounds
  • no vomiting

The rule had a negative predictive value of 5,028 of 5,034 (99.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 99.7% to 100%), sensitivity of 197 of 203 (97%; 95% CI 94% to 99%), specificity of 5,028 of 11,841 (42.5%; 95% CI 41.6% to 43.4%), and negative likelihood ratio of 0.07 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.15).

Holmes JF et al. Identifying children at very low risk of clinically important blunt abdominal injuries. Ann Emerg Med 2013 Feb 4; [e-pub ahead of print]. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.11.009)

 

Blunt Cardiac Injury

Largest pediatric case series of BCI – 184 patients – 95% had simple cardiac contusions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8577001

The clinical presentation of blunt cardiac injury varies. Mild injuries may present without objective findings, while some patients may have minor dysrhythmias.

A normal ECG and troponin I during the first 8 hours of hospital stay rules out blunt cardiac injury, and the negative predictive value of combining these 2 simple tests was 100%. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12544898

 

Click image to link to full article

 

Traumatic Tricuspid Injuries

Location, location, location

RV posterior to sternum – blunt force elevates pressures resulting in rupture of chordae, papillary muscle injury or tear of leaflet

Most frequent associated injury:  pulmonary contusion

“The presence of a transient right bundle branch block in the setting of myocardial contusion is a described, but under-recognized occurrence.”

“Although an rsr’ in the right precordial leads may be normal in children, it’s combination with an abnormal frontal axis (“bifasicular block”) is always abnormal and suggest injury to the RV”

 

Episode 95 Pediatric Trauma

Take Home Points

  • The injuries sustained by children in chest trauma are frequently different from adults
  • Signs of shock in pediatric trauma can be subtle
  • Use evidence based guidelines e.g PECARN when considering CT for abdominal trauma
  • Elevated Tropinin or abnormal ECG suggest blunt cardiac injury

 


CME QUIZ

EM Reflections - Dec 17 - CME Quiz

EM Reflections – Dec 17 – CME Quiz

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EM Reflections – November 2017

Thanks to Dr Paul Page for leading the discussion this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

  1. Managing violent behaviour in the Emergency Department

  2. Early CT can miss delayed onset subdural hematoma after head trauma

  3. Posterior shoulder dislocation can be missed if not specifically ruled out

  4. CME QUIZ

 


Managing violent behaviour in the Emergency Department

Workplace violence is unfortunately a common problem for Emergency Department staff.

Violence in the ED Reaches a Crisis Point

Not only is the environment high risk for exacerbating behavioural extremes but there are also a wide range of medical and psychiatric conditions that may present with violence and aggression.

Causes and associations with violence and aggressive behaviour in the ED:

Medical

  • Hypoxia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypothermia
  • Metabolic
    • Pancreatitis, hepatic encephalopathy, hyponatremia, etc
  • Sepsis
    • UTI, meningitis, encephalitis, pneumonia, etc
  • Toxic
    • Alcohol, drugs, etc
  • Seizure, post ictal
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Brain tumour
  • Head injury

Psychiatric

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar
  • Panic disorder, antisocial personality disorder, mood disorder, etc

Environment

  • Overcrowding
  • Police custody, gang violence, etc

 

Excellent article on managing behavioural emergencies in the emergency dept from LitFL:

Behavioural Emergencies

 

Restraint

The CMPA provides medicolegal guidance on the use of restraint:

When there’s a possibility that patients may harm themselves or others, physical or chemical restraint may be required.

When using restraints physicians should consider the following risk management measures, which are based on the experts’ opinions in the analyzed CMPA cases:

  • Attempt to de-escalate the situation using other methods.
  • Obtain an adequate history, including medications and co-morbidities.
  • Conduct an appropriate physical examination.
  • Explain the plan for the use of restraints calmly and clearly to patients or substitute decision-makers.
  • Document the rationale for using restraints and use the least restrictive means necessary.
  • Ensure clear and readily available policies and procedures for monitoring restrained patients and ensure appropriate training of staff.
  • Adhere to applicable regulations, laws, and accreditation standards.

 

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE UK) provides guidance on the use of rapid tranquillisation:

Download (PDF, 62KB)

 

More Information and lInks:

Horizon Health Work Place Violence Prevention Policy: HHN-SA-012

ACEP – Emergency Department Violence Fact Sheet

Augusta University – Violence in ED Manual – violenceinedmanual

 


Reliability of Early CT in Head Injury

Modern CT is highly sensitive in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, including subdural and epidural hematoma following head trauma.

 

 

The medical literature contains reports of false negative early CT following minor head injury, however in this review, they were rare (3 adverse outcomes in 65,000 cases), hence their recommendation:

 

The strongest scientific evidence available at this time would suggest that a CT strategy is a safe way to triage patients for admission.

http://emj.bmj.com/content/22/2/103

Case reports of delayed diagnosis of subdural / epidural hematoma following normal CT scan 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0196064494701156

http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/jns.1985.63.1.0030

 

In patients who present, following head trauma, with persistent symptoms despite initially normal head CT, repeat imaging with MRI is recommended.

Symptoms of subdural hematoma

  • slurred speech.
  • loss of consciousness or coma.
  • seizures.
  • numbness.
  • severe headaches.
  • weakness.
  • visual problems.

 

 


Posterior shoulder dislocation can be missed if not specifically ruled out

 

Posterior shoulder dislocation is less common than anterior dislocation. It is a commonly missed diagnosis in the Emergency Department. It can occur following trauma and should be specifically considered following seizure / electric shock.

The patient present with shoulder pain and reduced range of movement. The shoulder / arm is adducted and internally rotated.

A single AP shoulder radiograph is unreliable, but may show the ‘lightbulb sign’. The axillary lateral is usually diagnostic but may be not be possible due to pain.

Posterior shoulder dislocation should be considered in all patients where the axillary lateral was impossible to perform due to pain and immobility. A scapular Y view should be performed

 

AP Shoulder – Lightbulb sign – posterior dislocation – due to internally rotated humeral head

 

AP Shoulder – posterior dislocation (more subtle appearance) – malalignment of joint line

 

 

Axillary view – posterior dislocation

 

Scapular Y view – posterior dislocation

 

Point of Care Ultrasound

Ultrasound can be very useful for diagnosing shoulder dislocation and can be performed quickly prior to formal radiography. The transducer is placed in a transverse orientation, posteriorly, just below the scapular spine. Move laterally to the joint.

 

 

 

 

In comparison to radiography, US had a sensitivity of 100.0%, specificity of 80.0%, positive predictive value of 98.7%, and negative predictive value of 100.0% in diagnosis of shoulder dislocation. The specificity of US in diagnosis of proper reduction of the joint, was estimated to be 98.7% with a negative predictive value of 100.0%. US took a significantly less time than radiography to be performed (p < 0.001).

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452247317300791

 

 



 

CME QUIZ

EM Reflections - Nov 17 - CME Quiz

EM Reflections – Nov 17 – CME Quiz

 

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EM Reflections – October 2017

Thanks to Dr Joanna Middleton for leading the discussion this month

Edited by Dr David Lewis

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

  1. Imaging reports can underestimate the clinical impact of an incidental finding

  2. Neuro ICU in the Emergency Department?

 


Imaging reports can underestimate the clinical impact of an incidental finding

Not all benign conditions have a benign outcome. A CT report will occasionally underestimate the clinical impact of an incidental finding. Its always worth reviewing the images yourself.

For example – a report might read – “No acute bleed or infarct, incidental finding of frontal bone fibrous dysplasia” –  may sound innocuous and unrelated to the patient’s headache, until you review the scans yourself:

 

Fibrous dysplasia is a benign condition which can present with new craniofacial asymmetry. Whilst the condition itself may be benign, the location and speed of growth can result in symptoms, especially headache and even cranial nerve compression.

Clinical Guidelines for managing craniofacial fibrous dysplasia

 


Neuro ICU in the Emergency Department?

 

Management of Intracranial Hemorrhage in the Emergency Department can be complex. The diagnosis is usually straightforward with CT (providing it has been considered as a possibility – subarachnoid hemorrhage can present with syncope alone) and the broad category of bleed determined by the history, patient age, CT appearance, etc.

ED Management will depend on the category of bleed (Primary ICH, Subdural, Epidural, Traumatic SAH, Spontaneous SAH).

From ALIEM.com, click here for the full article

 

Initial management of intracranial hemorrhage can be simplified / summarized as follows:

Airway – ET Intubation if GCS < 9

Breathing – Ventilate if GCS < 9 (SaO2 >94%, ETCO2 35-45 mmHg)

Circulation

  1. Stop the bleeding
    1. Neurosurgery (see here for indications)
    2. Reverse anticoagulation
    3. ?Tranexamic acid
  2. Maintain an adequate cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) to ensure adequate tissue oxygenation
    1. CPP = Mean Arterial Pressure (MAP) – Intracranial Pressure (ICP)
      1. Seems simple enough? – ensure the patient’s blood pressure is high enough to overcome the ICP
    2. However, the optimal CPP following acute brain injury is not known (general consensus suggest 50-70 mmHg)
      1. In the normal brain CPP is maintained by autoregualtion
      2. Autoregulation is less effective after brain injury
      3. If the CPP is too low brain hypoxia occurs
      4. If the CPP is too high there may be a risk of hematoma expansion
    3. However, it’s not easy to measure the ICP
      1. Methods of non-invasive ICP estimation:
        1. Level of consciousness
        2. Papilledema
        3. CT appearances
        4. Transcranial doppler
        5. Sonographic Optic Nerve Sheath Diameter
        6. Lots of others
        7. None of these are perfect
      2. Invasive ICP measurement
        1. External Ventricular Drain – Neurosurgical procedure
        2. Setting up the EVD and measuring ICP requires experienced nursing staff (see below)
    4. Even measuring the MAP is not without its own problems in the ED
      1. MAP = (Systolic BP + 2(Diastolic BP))/3
      2. However non invasive measurement of MAP (based on SBP and DBP peripheral sphygmomanometry) is not accurate.
      3. An accurate measurement of MAP requires invasive monitoring via an arterial line.
    5. Assuming that we are able to accurately measure ICP and MAP, there is then the question of how to adjust these values reliably via therapeutic interventions.
      1. ICP Management (Normal = 0-15, Goal < 20)
        1. Patient position, head up
        2. Sedation and paralysis, if patient aggitated
        3. Mannitol – potential risk of acute kidney failure in prolonged use
        4. Hyperventilation – will also reduce cerebral blood flow – so PaCO2 no lower than 35 mmHg
        5. CSF Drainage : 
        6. Hypothermia
      2. MAP Management
        1. IV Fluid (crystalloid vs colloid?)
        2. Diuretics / Antihypertensives vs Inotropes
        3. A very detailed guide to blood pressure management in stroke can be viewed here: BP-Stroke


I suspect that most emergency physicians/nurses are wondering whether this level of care falls within their remit. In most hospitals the answer will be NO, these cases are stabilised and managed in an Intensive Care Unit. However, there are occasions when this level of care is required prior to transfer to another unit/hospital, in which case it is likely that the care will be directed by the local neurosurgeon / neurointensivist and the receiving specialists.


EVD Drainage System and ICP Monitoring

 

Suggest ICP Protocol from Vancouver General ICU

Download (PDF, 110KB)

 


 

CME QUIZ

 

ED Reflections - CME Quiz - Oct 2017

ED Reflections – CME Quiz – Oct 2017

 


 


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EM Reflections – September 2017

Thanks to Dr Paul Page for leading the discussion

Edited by Dr David Lewis

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

  1. Non-specific Abdo pain – Appendicitis is always high on the differential 

  2. Intoxicated patients are at high risk for Head Injury

  3. Acute Heart Failure has a higher mortality than acute NSTEMI

  4. Enhancing Morbidity and Mortality Rounds Quality


Non-specific Abdo pain – Appendicitis is always high on the differential 

Does a normal white count exclude appendicitis?No – Clinicians should be wary of reliance on either elevated temperature or total WBC count as an indicator of the presence of appendicitis. The ROC curve suggests there is no value of total WBC count or temperature that has sufficient sensitivity and specificity to be of clinical value in the diagnosis of appendicitis. Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Oct;11(10):1021-7.Clinical value of the total white blood cell count and temperature in the evaluation of patients with suspected appendicitis.

Does a normal CRP exclude appendicitis?No – Acad Emerg Med. 2015 Sep;22(9):1015-24. doi: 10.1111/acem.12746. Epub 2015 Aug 20. Accuracy of White Blood Cell Count and C-reactive Protein Levels Related to Duration of Symptoms in Patients Suspected of Acute Appendicitis.

 

A useful review on the diagnosis of appendicitis – JAMA. 2007 Jul 25; 298(4): 438–451. Does This Child Have Appendicitis?

 

Summary of Accuracy of Symptoms

Download (PDF, 124KB)

Summary of Accuracy of Signs

Download (PDF, 117KB)

 

 

Finally – Don’t forget Emergency Physicians can learn how to use Point of Care Ultrasound (PoCUS – ?Appendicitis) which can significantly improve diagnostic accuracy in experienced hands. Experience comes with practice.

J Med Radiat Sci. 2016 Mar; 63(1): 59–66. Published online 2016 Jan 20. doi:  10.1002/jmrs.154
Ultrasound of paediatric appendicitis and its secondary sonographic signs: providing a more meaningful finding

See SJRHEM PoCUS Quick Reference

PoCUS – Measurements and Quick Reference

 


Intoxicated patients are at high risk for Head Injury

Intoxicated patients with minor head injury are at significant risk for intracranial injury, with 8% of intoxicated patients in our cohort suffering clinically important intracranial injuries. The Canadian CT Head Rule and National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study criteria did not have adequate sensitivity for detecting clinically significant intracranial injuries in a cohort of intoxicated patients.

ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2013; 20:754–760. Traumatic Intracranial Injury in Intoxicated Patients With Minor Head Trauma

Canadian CT Head Rule not applicable to intoxicated patients (GCS<13)

Download (PDF, 76KB)

 

 

CMPA provide useful guidance on the duties expected in the management of intoxicated ED patients.

 

All intoxicated patients, even the so called ‘frequent fliers’ require a full assessment, including history (from 3rd parties if available), full examination (especially neurological), blood glucose level, neurological observations, and this assessment should be carefully documented.

 

Can we defer CT imaging for intoxicated patients presenting with possible brain injury?

This study suggests that deferring CT imaging while monitoring improving clinical status in alcohol-intoxicated patients with AMS and possible ICH is a safe ED practice. This practice follows the individual emergency physician’s comfort in waiting and will vary from one physician to another.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735675716306805

 

Download (PDF, 172KB)

 

 


Acute Heart Failure has a higher mortality than acute NSTEMI

Cardiac markers are routinely used to exclude NSTEMI in patient presenting with chest pain. However the diagnosis of acute heart failure (AHF) is mainly clinical, including CXR, ECG, PoCUS.

Ultrasound B Lines and Heart Failure

 

There is good evidence that BNP can be helpful in ruling out AHF – BMJ 2015;350:h910

Recommended Link – Emergency Medicine Cardiac Research and Education Group

Download (PDF, 1.32MB)

 

 

Emergency Treatment of Acute Congestive Heart Failure

Most recent recommendations from Canadian Cardiovascular Society (2012)

  • 1 – We recommend supplemental oxygen be considered for patients who are hypoxemic; titrated to an oxygen saturation > 90% (Strong Recommendation, Moderate-Quality Evidence).

Values and preferences. This recommendation places relatively higher value on the physiologic studies demonstrating potential harm with the use of excess oxygen in normoxic patients and less value on long-term clinical usage of supplemental oxygen without supportive data.

  • 2 – We recommend CPAP or BIPAP not be used routinely (Strong Recommendation, Moderate-Quality Evidence).

Values and preferences. This recommendation places high weight on RCT data with a demonstrated lack of efficacy and with safety concerns in routine use. Treatment with BIPAP/CPAP might be appropriate for patients with persistent hypoxia and pulmonary edema.

  • 3 – We recommend intravenous diuretics be given as first-line therapy for patients with congestion (Strong Recommendation, Moderate-Quality Evidence).
  • 4 – We recommend for patients requiring intravenous diuretic therapy, furosemide may be dosed intermittently (eg, twice daily) or as a continuous infusion (Strong Recommendation, Moderate-Quality Evidence).
  • 5 – We recommend the following intravenous vasodilators, titrated to systolic BP (SBP) > 100 mm Hg, for relief of dyspnea in hemodynamically stable patients (SBP > 100 mm Hg):
    • i

      Nitroglycerin (Strong Recommendation, Moderate-Quality Evidence);

    • ii

      Nesiritide (Weak Recommendation, High-Quality Evidence);

    • iii

      Nitroprusside (Weak Recommendation, Low-Quality Evidence).

Values and preferences. This recommendation places a high value on the relief of the symptom of dyspnea and less value on the lack of efficacy of vasodilators or diuretics to reduce hospitalization or mortality.

  • 6 – We recommend hemodynamically stable patients do not routinely receive inotropes like dobutamine, dopamine, or milrinone (Strong Recommendation, High-Quality Evidence).

Values and preferences. This recommendation for inotropes place high value on the potential harm demonstrated when systematically studied in clinical trials and less value on potential short term hemodynamic effects of inotropes.

  • 7 – We recommend continuation of chronic β-blocker therapy with AHF, unless the patient is symptomatic from hypotension or bradycardia (Strong Recommendation, Moderate-Quality Evidence).

Values and preferences. This recommendation places higher value on the RCT evidence of efficacy and safety to continue β-blockers, the ability of clinicians to use clinical judgement and lesser value on observational evidence for patients with AHF.

  • 8 – We recommend tolvaptan be considered for patients with symptomatic or severe hyponatremia (< 130 mmol/L) and persistent congestion despite standard therapy, to correct hyponatremia and the related symptoms (Weak Recommendation, Moderate-Quality Evidence).

Values and preferences. This recommendation places higher value on the correction of symptoms and complications related to hyponatremia and lesser value on the lack of efficacy of vasopressin antagonists to reduce HF-related hospitalizations or mortality.

 

Emergency Medicine Cases – Episode 4: Acute Congestive Heart Failure 

In Summary

  • AHF is a serious life-threatening condition in its own right, excluding NSTEMI does not change that. Appropriate management and disposition (almost always admission) is required.
  • Oxygen and intravenous Diuretics are the first-line  treatment
  • Nitrates are recommended in the relief of dyspnea in hemodynamically stable patients (SBP > 100 mm Hg)

 


Enhancing Morbidity and Mortality Rounds Quality

The Ottawa M&M Model

CalderMM-Rounds-Guide-2012

 

 

Continue Reading

EM Reflections – May 2017

Thanks to Dr Paul Page for his summary

Edited by Dr David Lewis

 

Top tips from this month’s rounds:

  1. DVT – Anticoagulation Bridging… when is it needed?
  2. Anticoagulated elderly patient with minor trauma. Can we rely on a recent INR?
  3. Abdominal pain in an elderly patient. Does a nonspecific exam and normal vitals exclude serious illness?

 


DVT – Anticoagulation Bridging… when is it needed?

Consider the type of anticoagulation best suited for your patient. Remember warfarin needs bridging until therapeutic INR is achieved.  Ensure that patients discharged after hours have a robust plan for follow up and enough supply until follow up occurs.

Outpatient Management of Anticoagulation Therapy – American Family Physician 2013

 

For Warfarin therapy in DVT, Thrombosis Canada recommends:

Full-dose low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) overlapping with warfarin for at least 5 days and until the INR is at least 2.0 for at least 2 days.

 

Bridging is not required when prescribing a Direct Oral Anticoagulant (DOAC) e.g Apixaban or Rivaroxaban.

 

Thrombosis Canada tool to support decision making for Anticoagulation therapy in DVT

Management of DVT:

General measures:
Unless compression ultrasound (CUS) is rapidly available, patients with moderate-to-high suspicion of DVT (except those with a high risk of bleeding) should start anticoagulant therapy before the diagnosis is confirmed.  Imaging confirmation should be obtained as soon as possible.
Outpatient management is preferred over hospital-based treatment unless there is an additional indication for hospitalization.
Initial treatment should have an immediate anticoagulant effect. Therefore, warfarin monotherapy is not appropriate initially.

Treatment Regimens:

Depending on the clinical presentation, one of following regimens should be used for the initial 3 months:

  • Full-dose low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) overlapping with warfarin for at least 5 days and until the INR is at least 2.0 for at least 2 days.
  • Full-dose IV heparin overlapping with warfarin for at least 5 days and until the INR is at least 2.0 for at least 2 days.
  • Apixaban 10 mg PO BID for 1 week before reducing dose to 5 mg PO BID.
  • Rivaroxaban 15 mg PO BID for 3 weeks before reducing dose to 20 mg PO once daily.
  • Full-dose SC LMWH or IV heparin for at least 5-10 days before switching to dabigatran 150 mg PO BID or to edoxaban 60 mg PO once daily.
  • Full-dose LMWH alone without switching to an oral anticoagulant.
  • Full-dose LMWH for the 1st month or so before switching to a DOAC or warfarin.

 


Anticoagulated elderly patient with minor trauma. Can we rely on a recent INR?

 

Elderly patients on warfarin presenting with minor trauma are commonly seen in the ED.  Many will have been on warfarin for a prolonged period and will have stable INRs. However we can not rely on a previous INR level when assessing the current presentation. Consider the following rational:

  • Why did the patient fall?
  • Do they have a concomitant illness?
  • Are they compliant with their medication?
  • Have they been prescribed or are you considering prescribing new medication that may interact with warfarin?

Clinically Significant Drug Interactions

Anticoagulated patients frequently re-attend the ED with complications of bleeding after discharge following minor injury e.g enlarging hematoma, blood soaked dressings, missed internal bleeding, mobility failure. Consider whether admission for observation may be more appropriate than discharge in this group of patients. For those discharge ensure that they have close support and clear advice on when to return.

Practical tips for warfarin dosing and monitoring – Cleveland Clinic Journal

 

See this recent Medical Student Pearl on Reversal of Anticoagulation in the ED

Medical Student Clinical Pearl – Reversal of Anticoagulation in the Emergency Department

 


 

Abdominal pain in an elderly patient. Does a nonspecific exam and normal vitals exclude serious illness?

Elderly patients presenting to the ED with acute abdominal pain should be considered extremely high risk. Published series have reported mortality rates approaching 10% (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7091511)

Presentations can be delayed, physical exam can be innocuous, lab results can be misleading. The risk of serious pathology is much greater and the outcome of delayed diagnosis can be significant.

Abdominal emergencies in the geriatric patient – Int J Emerg Med. 2014; 7: 43.

 

 

An excellent post from ALIEM – 10 Tips for Approaching Abdominal Pain in the Elderly

After seeing your fifth young patient of the day with chronic pelvic pain, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome, it is easy to be lulled into the mindset that abdominal pain is nothing to worry about. Not so with the elderly. These 10 tips will help focus your approach to atraumatic abdominal pain in older adults and explain why presentations are frequently subtle and diagnoses challenging.

 

Erect CXR – Abdominal Series – Free air under diaphragm in perforated bowel

 

Bottom Line –

Elderly patients with abdominal pain are at a much greater risk of serious pathology and require an extremely thorough assessment before (if ever) discharging with a rule-out diagnosis e.g constipation, gastro, abdo pain NYD etc.

 

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