Rib Fractures and Serratus Anterior Plane Block

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Scaphoid Fracture – Can PoCUS disrupt the traditional ‘splint and wait’ pathway?

 

PoCUS Fellow Pearl

Dr. Melanie Leclerc, CCFP-EM

MSK PoCUS Fellow

Dalhousie University Department of Emergency Medicine

 

Reviewed & Edited by Dr David Lewis (@e_med_doc)

All case histories are illustrative and not based on any individual


 

Case:

A 37 year old, right hand dominant, carpenter presents to your local ED with a complaint of right wrist pain. He was on a step-stool and lost his balance earlier today. He fell landing on his outstretched arm and had an acute-onset of radial-sided wrist pain. He denies any other injury. There are no neurologic complaints.

On exam, there is no visible deformity. The skin is closed and there is some swelling noted. The patient is tender over the anatomic snuff box as well as volarly over the scaphoid. There is pain noted with axial loading of the thumb. There is no other tenderness. ROM is within normal limits. The limb is distally neurovascularly intact.


X-rays are normal.

An occult scaphoid fracture is suspected. At this institution, patients with suspected occult scaphoid fracture are placed in a thumb spica splint and referred to the local hand surgeon to be seen in ~10-14 days for repeat assessment and X-ray.

Can Point of Care Ultrasound change this traditional “splint and wait” patient pathway?


 

Background:

Scaphoid fracture is a common presentation to the Emergency Department accounting for approximately 15% of all wrist injuries and 70% of carpal fractures. Up to 30% of the time, radiographs at initial presentation appear normal making fracture a commonly missed injury for Emergency physicians. A failure to recognize this injury can lead to chronic pain and functional impairment for patients. Particularly, fractures of the proximal pole (most distant to the blood supply) can lead to avascular necrosis (AVN) at high rates. Non-union can lead to scaphoid non-union advanced collapse (SNAC wrist) which can perpetuate further degenerative changes throughout the carpus. This can cause a significant impact on quality of life and occupation. Early detection of fracture could expedite fixation and possibly results in better outcomes. Further study in this area is needed.


 

Anatomy:

The scaphoid bone lies in the radial aspect of the proximal carpal row. It’s unique shape (“twisted peanut”), lends to easy recognition. It articulates proximally with the distal radius, distally with the trapezium, and on its’ ulnar aspect with the lunate to form the scapho-lunate interval. The blood supply to the scaphoid is unique in that the majority of it is retrograde. The dorsal carpal branch of the radial artery supplies the bone from distal to proximal. A small proportion of the blood supply originates at the proximal end. The boundary between the two supplies creates a “watershed” area prone to non-union and AVN.


 

Classification of Fractures:

Scaphoid fractures are classified by location. These regions are the proximal, middle and distal thirds which account for 20%, 75%, and 5% of the fractures respectively. The stability of fractures is determined by the displacement (>1mm) and angulation (scapholunate angle >60 and radiolunate angle >15). The Hebert Classification as endorsed by Traumapedia can be found below.


 

Traditional Imaging:

Imaging of these suspected injuries varies. Traditionally serial X-rays were used, but have been found to be poorly sensitive even several weeks after injury. Bone scan has also been used as an alternative due to it’s high sensitivity, but has poor specificity and provides no further information regarding the nature of the fracture. CT is relatively sensitive and specific and provides information for pre-operative planning. MRI is considered the gold standard, but is difficult to obtain in a timely manner in Canada.

Bäcker HC, Wu CH, Strauch RJ. Systematic Review of Diagnosis of Clinically Suspected Scaphoid Fractures. J Wrist Surg. 2020 Feb;9(1):81-89. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1693147. Epub 2019 Jul 21. PMID: 32025360; PMCID: PMC7000269.


 

PoCUS Technique:

  • Linear probe

  • Consider waterbath, gel standoff pad, or bag of IV fluid

  • Scan with the wrist ulnarly deviated

  • Scan in the longitudinal and transverse orientations of volar, lateral and dorsal aspects

  • Place the probe in longitudinal orientation dorsally over lister’s tubercle of the radius and scan distally until the scaphoid is visualized in the snuff box. Scan radial to ulnar.

  • Rotate to the transverse orientation and scan through proximal to distal

  • Volarly, in the transverse plane, identify the tendon of the flexor carpi radialis (this lies radial to the easily identifiable palmaris longus tendon on exam). The scaphoid is found deep to this. Scan proximal to distal.

  • Rotate to the longitudinal orientation and scan radial to ulnar

 


 

Video Demonstration:

 


 

Findings:

  • Cortical disruption

  • Periosteal elevation

  • Hematoma


 

The Evidence:

  • Early advanced imaging (CT or MRI) compared to initial 2 week immobilisation proved more cost effective and had better patient oriented outcomes (ie. missed work).(7)
  • A systematic review and meta analysis of moderate to high quality studies published in 2018 found that ultrasound had a mean sensitivity of ~89% and specificity of ~90% for detection of occult scaphoid fractures.(1)
  • Similar results were also reported by another systematic review in 2018.(8)
  • Pocus was shown to have a comparable sensitivity to CT for occult scaphoid in a systematic review published in 2020.(2)

 

Limitations:

  • Only useful if positive
  • Operator experience dependent
  • US probe and frequency dependant
  • Potential for false positives due to injury of nearby structure causing hematoma
  • Potential for false positives in context of arthritis or remote trauma

 

Bottom line:

  • Useful if positive
  • Still need definitive test to further delineate fracture (ie: for operative planning)
  • Could expedite CT
  • Could expedite specialist follow-up
  • May improve ER physician diagnostic certainty
  • May improve patient trust and compliance with splinting
  • Further study is needed

 

Case Conclusion:

Scaphoid cortical disruption was visualized using PoCUS. After discussion with the hand surgeon, a CT Scan of the wrist was performed which confirmed a minimally displaced waste fracture of the scaphoid. The patient was splinted and seen the next day in clinic for discussion regarding operative management.


 

Further Review:

 

 


 

References

  1. Ali M, Ali M, Mohamed A, Mannan S, Fallahi F. The role of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of occult scaphoid fractures J Ultrason 2018; 18: 325–331.
  2. Bäcker HC, Wu CH, Strauch RJ. Systematic Review of Diagnosis of Clinically Suspected Scaphoid Fractures. J Wrist Surg. 2020 Feb;9(1):81-89.
  3. Bakur A. Jamjoom, Tim R.C. Davis. Why scaphoid fractures are missed. A review of 52 medical negligence cases, Injury, Volume 50, Issue 7, 2019, Pages 1306-1308.
  4. Carpenter CR et al. Adult Scaphoid Fracture. Acad Emerg Med 2014; 21(2): 101-121.
  5. Gibney B, Smith B, Moughty A, Kavanagh EC, Hynes D and MacMahon PJ American Journal of Roentgenology 2019 213:5, 1117-1123
  1. Jenkins PJ, Slade K, Huntley JS, Robinson CM. A comparative analysis of the accuracy, diagnostic uncertainty and cost of imaging modalities in suspected scaphoid fractures. Injury. 2008;39:768–774.
  2. Karl, John W. MD, MPH1; Swart, Eric MD1; Strauch, Robert J. MD1 Diagnosis of Occult Scaphoid Fractures, The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery: November 18, 2015 – Volume 97 – Issue 22 – p 1860-1868.
  3. Kwee, R.M., Kwee, T.C. Ultrasound for diagnosing radiographically occult scaphoid fracture. Skeletal Radiol 47, 1205–1212 (2018).
  4. Malahias MA, Nikolaou VS, Chytas D, Kaseta MK, Babis GC. Accuracy and Interobserver and Intraobserver Reliability of Ultrasound in the Early Diagnosis of Occult Scaphoid Fractures: Diagnostic Criteria and a Way of Interpretation. Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances. 2019 ;28(1):1-9.
  5. Mallee WH, Wang J, Poolman RW, Kloen P, Maas M, de Vet HCW, Doornberg JN. Computed tomography versus magnetic resonance imaging versus bone scintigraphy for clinically suspected scaphoid fractures in patients with negative plain radiographs. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 6.
  6. Mallee, W.H., Mellema, J.J., Guitton, T.G. et al. 6-week radiographs unsuitable for diagnosis of suspected scaphoid fractures. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 136, 771–778 (2016).
  7. Melville, D., Jacobson, J.A., Haase, S. et al. Ultrasound of displaced ulnar collateral ligament tears of the thumb: the Stener lesion revisited. Skeletal Radiol 42, 667–673 (2013).
  8. Meyer, P., Lintingre, P.-F., Pesquer, L., Poussange, N., Silvestre, A., & Dallaudiere, B. (2018). Imaging of Wrist Injuries: A Standardized US Examination in Daily Practice. Journal of the Belgian Society of Radiology, 102(1), 9.
  9. Mohomad et al. 2019. Accuracy of the common practice of doing X-rays after two weeks in detecting scaphoid fractures. A retrospective cohort study. Hong Kong Journal of Orthopaedic Research 2019; 2(1): 01-06.
  10. Neubauer J, Benndorf M, Ehritt-Braun C, et al. Comparison of the diagnostic accuracy of cone beam computed tomography and radiography for scaphoid fractures. Sci Rep 2018; 8:3906.
  11. Ravikant Jain, Nikhil Jain, Tanveer Sheikh, Charanjeet Yadav. 2018. Early scaphoid fractures are better diagnosed with ultrasonography than X-rays: A prospective study over 114 patients, Chinese Journal of Traumatology, Volume 21, Issue 4, Pages 206-210.
  12. Senall, JA, Failla, JM, Bouffard, JL. 2004. Ultrasound for the early diagnosis of clinically suspected scaphoid fracture. J Hand Surg Am, 29:400-405.
  13. https://essr.org/content-essr/uploads/2016/10/wrist.pdf
  14. http://www.bonetalks.com/scaphoid
  15. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/scaphoid-fracture
  16. https://sketchymedicine.com/2014/07/scaphoid-bone-anatomy-and-fractures/
  17. https://radiopaedia.org/cases/scaphoid-fracture-11?lang=gb
  18. https://www.orthobullets.com/hand/6034/scaphoid-fracture
  19. https://meeting.handsurgery.org/abstracts/2018/EP15.cgi
  20. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Bone-scintigraphy-patient-C-of-the-hands-the-patient-with-a-scaphoid-fracture-on-the_fig4_50399987
  21. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pCXiRQMRKo&t=5s&ab_channel=UltrasoundPod
  22. https://litfl.com/terry-thomas-sign
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Lisfranc Injury – We have PoCUS but do we still need the cavalry?

 

 

PoCUS Fellow Pearl

Dr. Melanie Leclerc, CCFP-EM

MSK PoCUS Fellow

Dalhousie University Department of Emergency Medicine

 

Reviewed & Edited by Dr David Lewis (@e_med_doc)

All case histories are illustrative and not based on any individual


 

Case Report

A 32 year old male presents to a rural Emergency Department with a complaint of traumatic left foot pain. He was playing recreational football this evening. While crouching, the patient was tackled by another player who landed on his hyper-plantar flexed left foot from behind. The patient had immediate onset of pain in the middle of his foot and was unable to weight-bear. 

On physical examination, you notice significant bruising and swelling of the mid-foot. There is tenderness to the medial mid-foot specifically at the 1st-2nd tarsal-metatarsal articulations. X-rays of the foot appear normal. You are concerned about the possibility of a ligamentous Lisfranc injury.

https://www.footandanklesurgery.com.au/lisfranc-injuries

 


 

Lisfranc injuries

Lisfranc injuries are those that involve the tarsal-metatarsal joints. A spectrum of injury exists from ligamentous to fracture-dislocation. Up to 20% – 40% of injuries to the Lisfranc complex are missed in the Emergency Department. Unrecognized and untreated injuries can lead to long-term instability through the midfoot. As this region of the foot is responsible for a significant load during weight bearing, instability can accelerate degenerative changes in the foot resulting in chronic pain and disability

The injury is named after Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin, a French surgeon and gynecologist performed forefoot amputations at the tarsometatarsal joint on cavalrymen, during the 1815 Napoleonic wars. Although he didn’t specifically describe the injury, it has since been recognised in equestrians and occurring as a result of a trapped plantar flexed foot in the stirrup during a fall.

 

Other mechanisms have been described including high velocity injuries (sports injuries, foot on brake pedal MVA) and low velocity injuries (Stepping off a curb awkwardly). Low velocity injuries are more likely to be missed than high velocity injuries.

Further Reading – OrthoBullets


 

Anatomy

The Lisfranc ligament complex is comprised of 3 ligaments. The dorsal (red), interosseous (blue) and the plantar (green) Lisfranc ligaments. The  Interosseous ligament is the largest and the dorsal ligament is the smallest.

The first and second rays have unique ligamentous anatomy wherein no intermetatarsal ligaments exist, but extreme strength is imparted by dorsal, interosseous, and plantar bundles of ligament binding the lateral aspect of the medial cuneiform bone with the medial head of the second metatarsal bone—the Lisfranc ligamentous complex. Only the dorsal and plantar Lisfranc ligaments are accessible to ultrasound.

 

 



 

PoCUS of the Lisfranc joint and dorsal lisfranc ligament (DLL)

Lisfranc injuries are one of the most commonly missed orthopaedic injuries in the Emergency Department. Normal X-rays are often falsely reassuring to providers and patients are discharged with a diagnosis of “soft-tissue injury”. These injuries result in midfoot instability and often require definitive surgical management.

PoCUS has been studied as a method of early detection of these injuries. Specifically, assessment of the dorsal lisfranc ligament (DLL) between the second metatarsal (M2) and the medial cuneiform(C1). PoCUS also has the advantages of being significantly cheaper and more accessible than CT and MRI. Further investigation is needed to validate this method of diagnosis, however ultrasound findings of a disrupted DLL and a widened C1-M2 interval compared to the contralateral side may increase your suspicion when pre-test probability is high.


 

Technique

  1. Linear probe-MSK setting starting at a depth of 2cm
  2. Place probe in transverse orientation over the proximal aspect of the 1st-2nd metatarsals with the probe indicator to the patient’s right
  3. Slide the transducer proximally until you locate the medial cuneiform and identify the junction between the medial cuneiform (C1) and the 2nd metatarsal (M2)
  4. The medial cuneiform will have an angulated contour appearance in contrast to the round appearance of the metatarsals
  5. Sweep to identify the dorsal lisfranc ligament (DLL)
  6. Assess the DLL for a fibrillar pattern, normal echogenicity and contour
  7. Measure the DLL width and the C1-M2 distance compare to the contralateral side
  8. Measure the C1-M2 distance with weightbearing (if patient tolerates) to compare
  9. Apply colour doppler to assess for hyperemia


 

PoCUS Findings

Medial Cuneiform (C1), 2nd Metatarsal (M2)

Note the angulated contour of C1 and the smooth contour of M2 – this sectional plane is important when locating the dorsal Lisfranc ligament. The ligament appears hypoechoic with a fibrillar pattern, typical for other ligaments more commonly visualized with PoCUS e.g MCL, ATFL.

1. Normal image – Arrows = dorsal Lisfranc ligament

2. Normal Clip and annotated image. Note how the dorsalis pedis a. frequently overlies the dorsal Lisfranc ligament (yellow lines)

3. Normal clip. Note how there is no separation of C1/M2 while counterstressing the 1st and 2nd rays


 

4. Thickened, convex contour

5. DLL disrupted, wide joint space

6. Widening C1-M2 with weightbearing


Video Case


 

Limitations

  1. Anisotropy – Irregular dorsal contour of foot can result in difficult perpendicular imaging of doral Lisfranc ligament. Stand-off gel pad may help.
  2. History of prior trauma – chronic Lisfranc injury may result in joint widening
  3. Bilateral injuries – inability to compare sides to judge joint space widening

Application

Standard foot radiographs should be performed in all cases of suspicion for Lisfranc Injury. Weight bearing radiographs should also be performed if tolerated (the ability to fully weight bear is often limited in the acute setting)

HIgh velocity injuries result in significant soft tissue swelling, and although non-weight bearing radiographs may not be diagnostic, the index of suspicion for Lisfranc injury will be high. Immobilization +/- early CT and follow up with foot and ankle specialist is recommended. For these, high pretest probability injuries, PoCUS findings are unlikely to change management significantly. A clear Lisfranc ligament rupture on PoCUS may trigger a request for CT/MRI earlier than otherwise considered. In most cases advanced imaging and a clear diagnosis is not usually possible until the swelling has subsided.

In low velocity injuries, soft tissue swelling is less pronounced. in the acute presentation the ability to perform weight bearing radiographs is limited by pain. Index of suspicion for Lisfranc injury may be low-moderate and the decision to immobilize and refer for specialist follow up can be difficult. While there is limited published evidence for PoCUS test characteristics in Lisfranc injury, a positive scan (injury + disrupted ligament / widening of C1/M2) is likely to be highly specific. Patients with positive PoCUS findings should therefore be immobilized and referred for specialist follow up. In those with negative or inconclusive findings, management and disposition will depend on degree of clinical suspicion and correlated with radiographic findings.

In summary, PoCUS provides a useful additional piece of information that can be plugged into a bayesian diagnostic pathway. What is the pretest probability of a particular diagnosis? After reviewing radiographs and performing PoCUS is the diagnosis more or less likely?

More evidence is required to fully understand the test characteristics of PoCUS for Lisfranc injury. Would the addition of plantar views improve sensitivity?

Although the performing the scan takes only a few minutes, it is quite technically challenging for the novice. As with all MSK PoCUS, repeated practice in numerous patient presentations will increase operator speed and accuracy.


 

Finally, although we still need the cavalry, PoCUS can help us decide which regiment and how quickly we need them!

 


References

  1. Mayich DJ, Mayich MS, Daniels TR. Effective detection and management of low-velocity Lisfranc injuries in the emergency setting: principles for a subtle and commonly missed entity. Can Fam Physician. 2012;58(11):1199-e625. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498011
  2. Woodward, S., Jacobson, J.A., Femino, J.E., Morag, Y., Fessell, D.P. and Dong, Q. (2009), Sonographic Evaluation of Lisfranc Ligament Injuries. Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, 28: 351-357.
  3. Döring, S., Provyn, S., Marcelis, S., Shahabpour, M., Boulet, C., de Mey, J., De Smet, A., De Maeseneer, M. (2018). Ankle and midfoot ligaments: Ultrasound with anatomical correlation: A review. Eur J Radiol.107:216-226.
  4. Kaicker, J., Zajac, M., Shergill, R., & Choudur, H. N. (2016). Ultrasound appearance of the normal Lisfranc ligament. Emergency Radiology, 23(6), 609-614.
  5. DeLuca, M.K., Walrod, B. and Boucher, L.C. (2020). Ultrasound as a Diagnostic Tool in the Assessment of Lisfranc Joint Injuries. J Ultrasound Med, 39: 579-587.
  6. Marshall, J., Graves, N.C., Rettedal, D.D., Frush, K., Vardaxis. V. (2013). Ultrasound Assessment of Bilateral Symmetry in Dorsal Lisfranc Ligament. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, 52(3): 319-323.
  7. Rettedal, D.D., Graves, N.C., Marshall, J.J. et al. Reliability of ultrasound imaging in the assessment of the dorsal Lisfranc ligament. J Foot Ankle Res 6, 7 (2013).
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Detection of Foreign Bodies in Soft Tissue – A PoCUS-Guided Approach

 

Medical Student Clinical Pearl

Sophia Miao, CC4

MD Candidate, Class of 2021

Dalhousie University

 

Reviewed & Edited by Dr David Lewis (@e_med_doc)

All case histories are illustrative and not based on any individual.


 

Case Report

A 33-year-old woman presents to the ED with pain and swelling over the third digit of her right hand.  One week prior to this, she had shattered a jar and a small glass splinter lodged into her finger.  This was promptly removed at home, and the puncture wound healed without intervention.

She presented to the emergency room 7 days later with new pain and swelling surrounding the initial puncture wound.  There is no significant past medical history and most recent Td booster was given 2 years ago.  On examination, there was some mild erythema, swelling, and tenderness on palpation of the lateral aspect of the middle phalanx of the right hand.  She is otherwise well.  You wonder about the possibility of a retained foreign body.


 

PoCUS-Guided Approach to the Detection of Foreign Bodies in Soft Tissue

Foreign bodies in soft tissue are a common complaint in the emergency department, with open wounds comprising 5.7 million (or 4.5% of total) visits to the ED in 2010.[1]  Foreign bodies were found in up to 15% of wounds.[2]  If retained, complications of these include allergic reaction, inflammation, delayed wound healing, damage to adjacent tissue structures, neurovascular damage, tetanus, and infectious complications including cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, synovitis, and abscess formation.[3],[4]  Proper detection, and subsequent removal, of retained foreign bodies is therefore essential to evaluate the wound and prevent associated complications.

Diagnosis of a retained FB requires a high index of suspicion.  Clinical suspicion should be raised when there is a compelling history and physical exam.  The latter may include signs of inflammation and/or infection, including warmth, swelling, erythema, tenderness, abscess formation, and discharging wound).[5],[6]

Conventional radiography is known to commonly miss radiolucent materials such as wood and plastic.  It has been shown that plain radiographs have only a 7.4% sensitivity in the detection of wood foreign bodies.5  Remarkably, even glass – a radiopaque material – has been demonstrated to have been missed in up to 35% of x-ray film studies.[7]  There is increasingly compelling evidence for the clinical usefulness and accuracy of bedside ultrasonography in the detection of soft-tissue foreign bodies.  It has been shown to have a specificity of 92% (95% CI = 88%-95%) and sensitivity ranging from 83.3% to 100%.[8],[9]


PoCUS Technique

Probe selection: the use of a high-frequency ultrasound probe is recommended.  This allows for greater axial resolution at the expense of less penetration, which is suitable for the detection of small foreign bodies, as they typically lodge in superficial tissues.[10]

If the wound is open, a transparent covering such as a Tegaderm or probe cover can be used to cover either the wound or probe before scanning.[11]

Medium: standard technique for assessment of soft-tissue structures by ultrasound involves the use of a standoff pad or gel mound.  However, this is not always possible due to the irregular curvature of extremities such as fingers and feet, which may result in poor contact between the probe and skin, decreased field of view, and patient discomfort.  A water-bath technique can circumvent this and has been shown to be superior in such cases.[12]

Method: the area of interest should be scanned in both longitudinal and transverse planes.  Foreign bodies are best detected when the transducer aligns with the longitudinal axis of the foreign body, and therefore revealing the span of the object.[13]  As foreign bodies tend to embed less than 2 cm below the surface of the skin, the depth of field should remain superficial in order to avoid false positives.

US Probe: Ultrasound Water Bath for Distal Extremity Evaluation

 


Findings

Ultrasonography and plain film findings of foreign bodies in soft tissue are summarized in the table below.

Table 1. Ultrasound and x-ray findings of foreign bodies.6,[14],[15],[16]

Material Ultrasound findings X-ray findings
Wood Hyperechoic; may become isoechoic with surrounding tissue as it denatures over time

Posterior acoustic shadowing

Radiolucent, often undetectable
Glass Hyperechoic, bright

Posterior acoustic shadowing

± Posterior comet tail reverberation, diffuse beam scattering

Radiopaque
Plastic Hyperechoic

Posterior acoustic shadowing

Radiolucent, often undetectable
Metal Hyperechoic, bright

Posterior acoustic shadowing

± Posterior comet tail reverberation

Radiopaque

 

Foreign bodies may also display a straight or regular contour.6

 

Image 1 – Wood splinter in volar aspect digit, mildly hyperechoic, surrounding hypoechoic halo, irregular acoustic shadowing

Image 2 – Plastic FB, within tendon sheath, volar aspect digit, brightly hyperechoic, long axis

Image 3 – Plastic FB, within tendon sheath, volar aspect digit, brightly hyperechoic, short axis

 

Image 4 – Glass FB – brightly echogenic, posterior reverberation, FB long axis

 

Image 5 – Metal FB – brightly echogenic, posterior reverberation, FB long axis

 

 

It is important to note that the acoustic shadowing may be complete or partial, as this is dependent on the angle of sonography and foreign body material.[17]  It is also possible to see a hypoechoic halo around the FB, which may be suggest edema, abscess formation, granulation tissue, or other inflammatory process.[18]  As the inflammatory reaction develops, the halo effect becomes more apparent; therefore the foreign body is therefore best visualized by PoCUS several days after the initial injury.6


PoCUS-Guided Foreign Body Removal

There are several options for removal of a foreign body with PoCUS:[19]

  1. Needle localization. Once the foreign body has been identified on PoCUS, a hollow injection needle can be inserted under ultrasound guidance and local anesthetic is delivered through this.  This can be done in either the transverse or longitudinal plane.  The ultrasound probe is then removed, and an incision is made along the needle.  Through the incision site, tweezers or forceps can be used to remove the foreign body.
  2. Real-time ultrasound-guided extraction. This technique is similar to the needle localization method. However, rather than removing the transducer following the needle insertion, the entire procedure is done under direct ultrasound visualization.  The probe is held in the longitudinal plane to visualize both the forceps and the foreign body during the extraction process.

 

There is a risk of obscuring the view of the foreign body on ultrasound with air as a result of the incision itself or through anesthetic delivery.  Saline may be used to irrigate and therefore mitigate the issue.19

The patient’s tetanus status should be verified and updated, if required.  Antibiotic therapy may also be provided, should the risk of infection justify it.


Limitations

There is the possibility of false positives.  Foreign bodies must be differentiated from other hyperechoic body structures, including ossified cartilage, sesamoid bones, scar tissue, gas bubbles, and intermuscular fascia.14  Visualization is therefore important in both longitudinal and transverse planes, as well as comparison with the opposite side.  Acoustic shadowing, hypoechoic halo, and posterior comet tails, if present, can also be indicative of a FB rather than organic body tissue.

Traumatic air injection as a result of penetrating injury can create a scatter artifact on ultrasound, which can be misinterpreted as an acoustic shadow associated with a foreign body.  To differentiate this from a true acoustic shadow, pressure may be applied through the transducer to displace the scatter artifact.6

As is commonplace with all emergency ultrasonography, limitations also include the technical skill of the operator.[20]  A foreign body may also be too small to be detectable by ultrasound.  It is therefore important to remember that a negative scan does not necessarily rule out the possibility of a retained foreign body, and the history and physical examination must be considered in conjunction with the ultrasound findings.

 


 

References

[1] National Center for Health Statistics. Emergency Department Visits. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/emergency-department.htm.

[2] Steele MT, Tran LV, Watson WA, Muelleman RL. Retained glass foreign bodies in wounds: predictive value of wound characteristics, patient perception, and wound exploration. Am J Emerg Med. 1998 Nov;16(7):627-30. DOI: 10.1016/s0735-6757(98)90161-9. PMID: 9827733.

[3] Skinner EJ, Morrison CA. Wound Foreign Body Removal. In:StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554447/.

[4] Ebrahimi A, Radmanesh M, Rabiei S, Kavoussi H. Surgical removal of neglected soft tissue foreign bodies by needle-guided technique. Iran J Otorhinolaryngol. 2013 Winter;25(70):29-36. PMID: 24303416; PMCID: PMC3846242.

[5] Levine MR, Gorman SM, Young CF, Courtney DM. Clinical characteristics and management of wound foreign bodies in the ED. Am J Emerg Med. 2008 Oct;26(8):918-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajem.2007.11.026. PMID: 18926353.

[6] Atkinson P, Bowra J, Harris T, Jarman B, Lewis D. Point of Care Ultrasound for Emergency Medicine and Resuscitation. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press; 2019. DOI: 10.1093/med/9780198777540.001.0001.

[7] Kaiser, C. William MD; Slowick, Timothy MBA; Spurling, Kathleen Pfeifer RN, JD; Friedman, Sissie MA. Retained Foreign Bodies, The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care: July 1997 – Volume 43 – Issue 1 – p 107-111.

[8] Davis J, Czerniski B, Au A, Adhikari S, Farrell I, Fields JM. Diagnostic Accuracy of Ultrasonography in Retained Soft Tissue Foreign Bodies: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Acad Emerg Med. 2015 Jul;22(7):777-87. DOI: 10.1111/acem.12714. Epub 2015 Jun 25. PMID: 26111545.

[9] Atkinson P, Madan R, Kendall R, Fraser J, Lewis D. Detection of soft tissue foreign bodies by nurse practitioner-performed ultrasound. Crit Ultrasound J. 2014 Jan 29;6(1):2. DOI: 10.1186/2036-7902-6-2. PMID: 24476553; PMCID: PMC3922659.

[10] Dean AJ, Gronczewski CA, Costantino TG. Technique for emergency medicine bedside ultrasound identification of a radiolucent foreign body. The Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2003;24(3):303–8. DOI: 10.1016/S0736-4679(02)00765-5.

[11] Chen KC, Lin AC, Chong CF, Wang TL. An overview of point-of-care ultrasound for soft tissue and musculoskeletal applications in the emergency department. J Intensive Care. 2016 Aug 15;4:55. DOI: 10.1186/s40560-016-0173-0. PMID: 27529031; PMCID: PMC4983782.

[12] Krishnamurthy R, Yoo JH, Thapa M, Callahan MJ. Water-bath method for sonographic evaluation of superficial structures of the extremities in children. Pediatr Radiol. 2013 Mar;43 Suppl 1:S41-7. DOI: 10.1007/s00247-012-2592-y. Epub 2013 Mar 12. PMID: 23478918.

[13] Rooks VJ, Shiels WE 3rd, Murakami JW. Soft tissue foreign bodies: A training manual for sonographic diagnosis and guided removal. J Clin Ultrasound. 2020 Jul;48(6):330-336. DOI: 10.1002/jcu.22856. Epub 2020 May 8. PMID: 32385865.

[14] Mohammadi A, Ghasemi-Rad M, Khodabakhsh M. Non-opaque soft tissue foreign body: sonographic findings. BMC Med Imaging. 2011 Apr 10;11:9. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2342-11-9. PMID: 21477360; PMCID: PMC3079678.

[15] Lewis D, Jivraj A, Atkinson P, Jarman R. My patient is injured: identifying foreign bodies with ultrasound. Ultrasound. 2015 Aug;23(3):174-80. DOI: 10.1177/1742271X15579950. Epub 2015 Mar 26. PMID: 27433254; PMCID: PMC4760591.

[16] Campbell EA, Wilbert CD. Foreign Body Imaging. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470294/.

[17] Anderson MA, Newmeyer WL 3rd, Kilgore ES Jr. Diagnosis and treatment of retained foreign bodies in the hand. Am J Surg. 1982 Jul;144(1):63-7. DOI: 10.1016/0002-9610(82)90603-1. PMID: 7091533.

[18] Little CM, Parker MG, Callowich MC, Sartori JC. The ultrasonic detection of soft tissue foreign bodies. Invest Radiol. 1986 Mar;21(3):275-7. DOI: 10.1097/00004424-198603000-00014. PMID: 3514541.

[19] Paziana K, Fields JM, Rotte M, Au A, Ku B. Soft tissue foreign body removal technique using portable ultrasonography. Wilderness Environ Med. 2012 Dec;23(4):343-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.wem.2012.04.006. Epub 2012 Jul 25. PMID: 22835803.

[20] Pinto A, Pinto F, Faggian A, Rubini G, Caranci F, Macarini L, Genovese EA, Brunese L. Sources of error in emergency ultrasonography. Crit Ultrasound J. 2013 Jul 15;5 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S1. DOI: 10.1186/2036-7902-5-S1-S1. Epub 2013 Jul 15. PMID: 23902656; PMCID: PMC3711733.

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A Case of Ectopic Pregnancy

 

Medical Student Clinical Pearl – December 2020

Marisa O’Brien

@mbob58

MD Candidate, Class of 2021

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Reviewed and Edited by Dr. David Lewis

All case histories are illustrative and not based on any individual

 


Case Report

A 36-year-old G2P1 female presented to the Emergency Department following a pre-syncopal episode at work. The patient noted a sudden onset of significant abdominal cramping, nausea, and vaginal bleeding with clots that morning followed by an episode of lightheadedness while sitting at her desk. The patient denied any loss of consciousness, no dyspnea, no chest pain, no palpitations, and no fevers/chills. She had no known allergies and no current medications. She was a non-smoker and denied any alcohol or drug usage.

The patient’s past medical history was significant for recent treatment with methotrexate for an ectopic pregnancy eight days prior. The patient had a history of amenorrhea for 7 weeks and a serum β-hCG of 302 mlU/mL at that time. A transvaginal ultrasound was performed at 8 weeks for abdominal pain and light spotting which revealed an IUD in situ with no evidence of an intrauterine pregnancy. An early ectopic pregnancy was diagnosed and the patient was consented to receive medical management with methotrexate. She was followed up with serial β-hCG’s which gradually, but slowly, trended down to 110 mIU/ml by day 6. The patient noted slight abdominal cramping and PV bleeding following the methotrexate however this had settled after 3 days with no ongoing symptoms until today.

On initial assessment, the patient appeared well, no acute distress, and all vital signs were stable.  The abdominal exam revealed bowel sounds present in all four quadrants and the abdomen was tympanic to percussion. On palpation the abdomen was soft and nondistended with LLQ and suprapubic tenderness however, no guarding or rebound tenderness was appreciated.

Initial investigations included a CBC, β-hCG, PT & PTT, type and screen, urinalysis, EKG, & POCUS.

 


Definition

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants at a site other then the endometrium of the uterus, most commonly the fallopian tubes. They often present as vaginal bleeding and/or abdominal pain in the setting of a positive β-hCG.1

A critical complication is a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which occurs by erosion through the tissue the zygote has implanted in resulting in intraabdominal bleeding from the exposed vessel and possible hypovolemic shock.2 Rupture should be suspected in patients presenting with hemodynamic instability including syncope, hypotension, and tachycardia. However, young healthy females may appear vitally stable initially due to compensatory mechanisms. Additional physical exam findings suggestive of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy include severe abdominal pain with guarding or rebound tenderness and abdominal distention. Pain may radiate to the shoulder due to irritation of the diaphragm from blood in the peritoneal cavity.1,3

 


Risk factors for ectopic pregnancy4

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Prior fallopian tube surgery
  • Previous pelvic or abdominal surgery
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Maternal age > 35 years
  • History of infertility
  • Assisted reproductive technology (IVF)

 

 


Differential diagnosis for vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy1:

  • Physiologic
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Cervical, vaginal, or uterine pathology
  • Subchorionic hematoma
  • Heterotopic pregnancy
  • Gestational trophoblastic disease

 


Sonography

According to the discriminatory zones, an intrauterine pregnancy is expected to be visualized on a transvaginal ultrasound at β-hCG levels of 1500 – 2000 mlU/mL and on a transabdominal ultrasound at levels of 4000 – 6500 mlU/mL.5

Gestational Age Β-hCG range (mlU/mL)
<1 week 5 – 50
1-2 weeks 50 – 500
2-3 weeks 100 – 5000
3-4 weeks 500 – 10,000
4-5 weeks 1000 – 50,000
5-6 weeks 10,000 – 100,000
6-8 weeks 15,000 – 200,000
8-12 weeks 10,000 – 100,000

Table 1: Estimated β-hCG levels in relation to gestational age.3

In the first trimester of a normal pregnancy, the serum β-hCG should increase by ≥ 53% every 48 hrs until 41 days of gestation.1,3 Serum β-hCG will then continue to rise more slowly until approximately 10 weeks after which it will begin to decline until reaching a plateau. Serum β-hCG levels are noted to raise more slowly in an ectopic pregnancy, thus a slower rate of increase, plateau, or decline in serum β-hCG in the first 41 days suggests a possible miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.1

Note on β-hCG Discriminatory Zones

The value of discriminatory zones in the emergency management of ectopic pregnancy is low, with many considering it unreliable and potentially dangerous. In short, a low β-hCG does not exclude an ectopic. This useful post provides a good summary on ectopic rule-out in the ED:

Rule Out Ectopic in the Emergency Department

 

An intrauterine pregnancy is confirmed by visualization of a gestational sac and a yolk sac within the uterus (juxtaposed to bladder).1 A gestational sac alone is not sufficient for diagnoses of an intrauterine pregnancy as it may be a pseudogestational sac formed by hormonal stimulation from an ectopic pregnancy.5 Additionally, if an intrauterine pregnancy is visualized, a heterotopic pregnancy should also be considered.1 The risk of heterotopic pregnancy when conceived normally is estimated to be 1 in 30,000.

Figure 1: Visualization of an intrauterine pregnancy on a transvaginal ultrasound.3

 

 

Structure Transvaginal Ultrasound Transabdominal Ultrasound
Gestational Sac 4.5-5 weeks 5.5-6 weeks
Yolk Sac 5-5.5 weeks 6-6.5 weeks
Fetal Pole 5.5-6 weeks 7 weeks
Cardiac Activity 6 weeks 7 weeks
Fetal Parts 8 weeks >8 weeks

Table 2: Ultrasound findings based on gestational age.5

 


Diagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is suspected in all women with a positive pregnancy test when no intrauterine pregnancy is visualized on ultrasonography. A low β-hCG or declining β-hCG does not exclude an ectopic. Ultrasound findings of an ectopic pregnancy may include an extrauterine gestational sac or embryonic cardiac activity outside of the uterus, a complex adnexal mass, or intraperitoneal fluid.3

From emupdates.com

 


Management of Ectopic Pregnancy

Is the patient unstable?

  • If the patient is hemodynamically unstable (tachycardia or hypotension or pale or syncopal) then commence immediate resuscitation (IV Access, CBC, type & crossmatch,  iv fluids, transfusion, etc) and stat consult to ObGyn.

In stable patients

  • Consult ObGyn
  • The gold-standard of treatment for ectopic pregnancy is surgical management however, treatment options include expectant, or medical management.6 Medical management with methotrexate, a folic acid antagonist that inhibits DNA synthesis and cell production, has a higher success rate when initiated at lower β-hCG levels. Methotraxate is initiated if β-hCG is <5000 mlU/mL and is reserved for those with reliable follow up as β-hCG levels are required to be trended until they are undetectable. Individuals with renal disease, hepatic disease, active pulmonary disease, or immunodeficiencies are not candidates for methotrexate.3,7 Individuals who do not meet the criteria for medical management, are hemodynamically unstable, have failed methotrexate, or a ruptured ectopic is suspected, will receive surgical management.6

 


Case Report Continued

The patient was hemodynamically stable on presentation. Her vital signs were normal. As part of the initial assessment, PoCUS was used to further evaluate for the presence of free fluid in the abdomen or pelvis. Free fluid was identified in the RUQ in both Morrison’s pouch and surrounding the caudal tip of the liver. Intraperitoneal fluid was also seen in the LUQ in both the subphrenic and splenorenal spaces. Free fluid was also visualized in Douglas’ pouch in the pelvic view.

RUQ

LUQ

Pelvis

 

Throughout the PoCUS examination the patient remained well appearing, however she had become hypotensive with a blood pressure of 90/53 mmHg. Her initial bloodwork had come back at this time revealing a β-hCG of 32 mlU/mL and a Hgb of 67 g/L. The patient received 1g of TXA, and a 1L bolus of normal saline while PRBC’s were ordered. She was documented to be Rh+ thus, she did not require RhoGAM (anti-D immune globulin). An urgent consultation to Obstetrics and Gynecology was made following the visualization of intraabdominal fluid and the patient underwent an exploratory laparotomy shortly after.

 


Key Points

  • Ectopic pregnancy should be considered in the differential diagnosis of any female patient, of childbearing age, presenting with abdominal pain, syncope or shock
  • An Intrauterine contraceptive device does not exclude an ectopic
  • Unless a previous ultrasound has documented the presence of an intrauterine pregnancy, an empty uterus in a patient with a positive pregnancy test should be considered to be a possible ectopic until ruled out
  • An intrauterine pregnancy on ultrasound requires the following to be confirmed:
    • A gestational sac and a yolk sac, in the uterus which is juxtaposed to the bladder
    • or a gestational sac containing a normal fetal pole, in the uterus which is juxtaposed to the bladder
  • A low β-hCG or declining β-hCG does not exclude an ectopic
  • Medical management of ectopic pregnancy with methotrexate requires close follow-up. Failure can occur. Ruptured ectopic pregnancy can still occur.

 


Further Reading

Ectopic Pregnancy and Ruptured Ectopic: Pitfalls in Diagnosis

ED Rounds – Early Pregnancy

The Pregnant ED Patient – A Compendium of Pearls

 

 


References

  1. Tulandi, T. (2020, November 2). Ectopic pregnancy: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. Retrieved from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/ectopic-pregnancy-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis?search=ectopic%20pregnancy&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1#H1
  2. Toy, E.C., Simon, B.C., Takenaka, K.Y., Liu, T.H., & Rosh, A.J. (2017). Ectopic Pregnancy. Case Files Emergency Medicine. (4th, pp. 369-376). McGraw-Hill Education.
  3. Hang, B.S. (2016). Obstetrics and Gynecology. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide. (8th, pp. 629-633). McGraw-Hill Education.
  4. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018, February). Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/ectopic-pregnancy
  5. Leonard, N.J. (2019, January 23). The Pregnant Pelvic POCUS. EMRounds. Retrieved from: https://emrounds.org/the-pregnant-pelvic-pocus/
  6. Tulandi, T. (2020, March 31). Ectopic pregnancy: Choosing a treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/ectopic-pregnancy-choosing-a-treatment?search=ectopic%20pregnancy&topicRef=5407&source=see_link#H2976630177
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Small Bowel Obstruction & PoCUS

Small Bowel Obstruction & PoCUS – Medical Student Pearl

Patrick Rogers, Clinical Clerk (CC3)

Memorial University of Medicine Class of 2021

Reviewed by Dr. Kavish Chandra

Small bowel obstructions (SBO) are a common cause of acute abdominal pain in emergency departments across Canada. Diagnostic imaging plays a key role in the diagnosis and management of SBO as the history, clinical examination and laboratory investigations lack the sensitivity and specificity needed. Furthermore, diagnostic imaging may help differentiate SBO from other causes of abdominal pain (hernias, malignancies, intussusception, etc).

Historically, plain film abdominal radiography (AXR) has been an initial investigation in emergency departments when an SBO is suspected.  However, the current literature suggests that abdominal radiography is a relatively poor test for the diagnosis or exclusion of SBO when compared to other available modalities like US, CT, or MRI. In fact, multiple studies argue for the reduction of abdominal x-rays, especially when patients come in presenting with general abdominal tenderness. 1 Fortunately, there exists a compelling alternative: point of care ultrasound (PoCUS), and is being increasingly used as a first line investigation for SBO. 2

There are several reasons why physicians may start to choose PoCUS over traditional diagnostic modalities:

  • PoCUS avoids the radiation exposure that patients receive from cumulative plain films and abdominal CT’s. 3
  • PoCUS has been shown to reduce time to diagnosis and treatment in comparison to abdominal plain films. 3
  • PoCUS is more sensitive/specific modality when compared to abdominal plain film. 4
  • PoCUS allows for serial examination in the ED. 5
  • PoCUS may be rapidly available to centers with limited access to CT scanner. 6

The current evidence is highly favorable for the diagnostic efficacy of PoCUS in SBO. Here are the findings of peer-reviewed studies on the subject (published between 2013-2020):

  • PoCUS has high diagnostic accuracy and may also decrease time to diagnosis of SBO in comparison to other imaging modalities like CT and plain film.2
  • PoCUS has been found to have superior diagnostic accuracy for SBO in comparison to plain abdominal radiography. 4
  • PoCUS has been shown to be an accurate tool in the diagnosis of SBO with a consistently high sensitivity of 94-100% and specificity of 81-100%. 5
  • Current evidence suggests PoCUS is comparable in sensitivity and specificity to a CT scan when diagnosing SBO. 6
  • Ultrasound was found to be equivalent to CT in terms of diagnostic accuracy with a sensitivity of 92.31% (95% CI, 74.87% to 99.05%) and a specificity of 94.12% (95% CI, 71.31% to 99.85%) in the diagnosis of SBO. 7
  • In a study comparing XR, US, CT, and MRI, the abdominal x-ray was shown to be to be the least accurate imaging modality for the diagnosis of SBO. AXR’s were found to have a positive likelihood ratio of 1.64 (95% CI 1.07 to 2.52). In contrast, CT and MRI were both quite accurate in diagnosing SBO with positive likelihood ratios of 3.6 (95% CI = 2.3 to 5.4) and 6.77 (95% CI = 2.13 to 21.55). The use of ultrasound was found to have a positive likelihood ratio of 9.55 (95% CI = 2.16 to 42.21) and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.04 (95% CI = 0.01 to 0.13) for beside scans. 4

There are two major barriers identified in the literature that may prevent the effective use of PoCUS in the diagnosis of SBO. First, not every emergency physician has been trained on the use of PoCUS. Fortunately, two recent studies show that even minimally trained ED physicians can use it accurately. 8 Secondly, some surgeons have argued that PoCUS does not show the location of the obstruction accurately. This becomes a concern when the care team elects for surgical management of the patient’s SBO. However, recent evidence suggests that PoCUS may lead to quicker time to diagnosis and enteric tube insertion in conservative management. 8

Finally, how can learners use this technology? 5 Here are some specific sonographic findings to look for when evaluating a patient for SBO with US:

 

  • Dilatation of small bowel loops > 25 mm *
  • Altered intestinal peristalsis *
  • Increased thickness of the bowel wall
  • Intraperitoneal fluid accumulation

Figure 1. Dilatation of small bowel loops. Image courtesy Dr. Kavish Chandra

Figure 2. Altered intestinal peristalsis*. Image courtesy Dr. Kavish Chandra

Figure 3. – abnormal peristalsis “to and fro”9

References

  1. Denham G, Smith T, Daphne J, Sharmaine M, Evans T. 2020. Exploring the evidence-practice gap in the use of plain radiography for acute abdominal pain and intestinal obstruction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Evidence Based Healthcare. DOI: 10.1097/XEB.0000000000000218
  2. Guttman J, Stone M, Kimberly H, Rempell J. 2015. Point of care ultrasonography for the diagnosis of small bowel obstruction in the emergency department. CJEM. DOI: 10.2310/8000.2014.141382
  3. Flemming H, Lewis D. 2016. SBO- A New Focus for PoCUS. Saint John Regional Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine
  4. Taylor M, Lalani N. 2013. Adult small bowel obstruction. Academic Emergency Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/acem.12150
  5. Pourman A, Dimbil U, Shokoohi H. 2018. The accuracy of point of care ultrasound in detecting small bowel obstruction in emergency department. Emergency Medicine International. DOI: 10.1155/2018/3684081
  6. Gottlieb M, Peska, G, Pandurangadu A, Nakitende D, Takhar S, Seethala R. 2018. Utilization of ultrasound for the evaluation of small bowel obstruction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajem.2017.07.085
  7. Tamburrini S, etal. 2019. Diagnostic accuracy of ultrasound in the diagnosis of small bowel obstruction. Diagnostics. DOI: 10.3390/diagnostics9030088
  8. Carpenter C. 2013. The end of X-Rays for suspected small bowel obstruction? Using evidence-based diagnostics to inform best practices in emergency medicine. Academic Emergency Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1111/acem.12143
  9. The PoCUS Atlas. https://www.thepocusatlas.com/bowel-gi

Copyedited by Dr. Mandy Peach

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Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: A PoCUS Guided Approach

Medical Student Clinical Pearl – November 2020

 

Robert Hanlon

@roberthanlon12

Year: 4
DMNB Class of 2021
 

Reviewed and Edited by Dr. David Lewis

All case histories are illustrative and not based on any individual

 


Case Report

A 25yr old male presents with a 3 day history of a red swollen foot following an insect bite. He has no past medical history. On examination there is some erythema and swelling on the dorsum of the left foot. Palpation is very tender.

You are aware of recommended guidelines that advise I&D for purulent infections and decide to proceed with the procedure. Despite trying to freeze the area with lidocaine, the procedure is still painful and no pus is drained. You point to the minimal serosanguinous exudate and sheepishly suggest to the patient that the I&D was successful and that a course of antibiotics will resolve this issue.


Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: A POCUS Guided Approach

Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) have a variety of potential causes, ranging in severity from mild infections like cellulitis to abscess all the way to life-threatening causes like necrotizing fasciitis.1 SSTIs are commonly encountered in the emergency department, with cellulitis and abscesses being the two most common.2 It is important to be able to recognize SSTIs and provide appropriate treatment. Abscesses require invasive management, whereas cellulitis is treated with systemic therapies; therefore, it is important to be able distinguish the different between the two types. Doing so can be difficult because of the hidden nature of abscesses. However, ultrasound can be a useful tool in establishing the presence of an abscess. This article is a review of the clinical approach and treatment for SSTIs, focusing on cellulitis and abscesses, as well as the use of ultrasound in helping to establish the diagnosis.


Approach

Clinical suspicion is the initial step in the diagnosis of SSTIs. These infections have multiple causes; therefore, obtaining a detailed history is crucial. Information about immunocompromised state, place of residence, travel, any recent trauma or surgery, previous antimicrobial use, lifestyle, hobbies, and animal bites is essential to developing an adequate differential diagnosis.3

A good understanding of the normal skin flora and common infectious organisms is key to assessing SSTIs. The most commons organisms implicated in SSTIs are Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus species.4-6 Methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) being an important strain that has increased in prevalence in the past 20 years. Risk factors such as presence of abscess, intravenous drug use, previous MRSA status, antibiotics within 8 weeks, diabetes mellitus, and previous hospital admission within the last year increase the likelihood of the infection being cause by MRSA.4-6

Physical examination findings are crucial for establishing the presence of an SSTI; the typical criteria are a superficial lesion with the classic inflammatory findings of redness (rubor), swelling (tumor), warmth (calor), and pain (dolor).1,2,7 An abscess is defined as a fluctuant mass of puss localized and buried within a tissue, organ, or potential space; however, clinically it can be hard to determine to presence of this mass.2,7 Other associated signs and symptoms, such as crepitus, bullae, and hemorrhage, may be present upon diagnosis or may develop later during the course.2,7 Due to overlapping clinical presentations of the different SSTIs, it can be difficult to differentiate between them.


Cellulitis – No Abscess
Cellulitis – Possible Abscess
Abscess
Early Abscess

Assessment with POCUS:

Due to the similarities between different SSTI cutaneous findings and their different treatments, it is important to establish if there is an abscess present. It was common, before the introduction of ultrasound, to perform a blind needle aspiration of the infected area in order to determine the presence/absence of an abscess.8,9 However, this subjects that patient to the risks of an invasive procedure as well as pain. On the other hand, treating infection with empiric antibiotics in the presence of an unknown abscess delays drainage and allows for potential worsening of the infection.8,9

A study by Tayal et al. demonstrated that the use of ultrasound was beneficial in patients who had both low and high pretest probability for needing incision and drainage. In patients suspected of having simple cellulitis (low pretest), ultrasound was used to change management in over half of participants; establishing the need for drainage due to imaging of a fluid collection. The opposite was true in the patients suspected of having an abscess (high pretest); the study found that ultrasound was able to determine that more than half of this group did not need drainage, because of the absence of a fluid collection on imaging.10 Other studies have had similar findings, but the percent change in management was slightly lower.11

A study by Barbic et al. demonstrated that POCUS provided a rapid, non-invasive, painless, and easily repeatable test, that distinguished between abscess and cellulitis in the vast majority of cases. Their analysis concluded that POCUS had a sensitivity of 96.2% and a specificity of 82.9% in diagnosing the presence of an abscess.12 They concluded that POCUS can accurately diagnose abscess in paediatric and adult populations and is likely superior to clinical examination.12


Cobblestones

Classic finding for cellulitis (but not specific to cellulitis). There will be hyperechoic lobules of subcutaneous fat surrounded by relatively hypoechoic inflammatory fluid.13

Cobblestone – Cellulitis

Purulent Fluid Collection

Classic finding for an abscess; have a rounded shape of anechoic or hypoechoic fluid collection, and there will be surrounding areas of cobblestones from the overlying cellulitis.13 As well, there should be no color flow if doppler is applied to the area (helping to distinguish from lymph node or vessel).14

Abscess – Anechoic Collection
Possible Abscess or Lymph Node? – This is a lymph node – see below
Colour flow differentiates lymph node from abscess

Necrotizing Fasciitis

Because you do not want to miss it! Findings via ‘STAFF’; subcutaneous thickening, air, and fascial fluid.14 Note, that ultrasound does not to exclude the diagnosis. Also need clinical correlation to increase suspicion of such a serious infection.15

Necrotizing Fasciitis – STAFF

Treatment:

According to The Infectious Diseases Society of America (2014) guidelines, management of SSTIs is differentiated based on the presence/absence of purulence (i.e. abscess/fluid collection). They recommend that all purulent infections be treated with incision and drainage, with more severe infections (signs of systemic involvement) being cultured with sensitivities in order to add antibiotics to the treatment.16 Otherwise, non-purulent infections are to be treated with systemic antibiotics; the severity of the infection determining the route and choice of agent.16

Antibiotic therapy, in addition to incision and drainage of a skin abscess, is suggested for patients with any of the following:17

  • Single abscess ≥2 cm or multiple abscesses
  • Large are of surrounding cellulitis
  • Patients with immunosuppression or other comorbidities
  • Signs of systemic involvement (fever > 38°C, hypotension, or tachycardia)
  • Poor clinical response to incision and drainage alone
  • Presence of an indwelling medical device
  • High risk for adverse outcomes with endocarditis (these include a history of infective endocarditis, presence of prosthetic valve or prosthetic perivalvular material, unrepaired congenital heart defect, or valvular dysfunction in a transplanted heart)
  • High risk for transmission of aureus to others (such as in athletes or military personnel)

 

Horizon Health’s local trends recommend the following (see guideline or Spectrum app for full details)

Severity of Infection

 

 

Antibiotic

Mild

Moderate

Severe

Cephalexin 500 – 1000mg PO q6h x 5 days

ceFAZolin 2 g IV q8h x 5 days

ceFAZolin 2 g IV q8h +/- Clindamycin 900 mg IV q8h

If true beta-lactam allergy

Cefuroxime 500 mg PO BID or TID x 5 days

Clindamycin 600-900 mg IV q8h x5 days

 

If MRSA suspected

Septra 800/160 mg or 1600/320 mg PO q12h x 5 days

Vancomycin 25-30 mg/kg IV once then 15mg/kg IV q8 to q12h x 5 days

ADD Vancomycin 25-30 mg/kg IV once then 15mg/kg IV q8 to q12h

 


Some research is suggesting that POCUS can take the assessment of abscesses one step-further and impact management based on the depth and size of the fluid collection seen in imaging. Russell et al. found that abscesses less than 0.4cm below the skin surface could be effectively treated without incision and drainage.18 Another study found that patients, with skin abscesses less than or equal to 5cm in diameter, treatment with oral antibiotics in combination with incision and drainage had improved short-term outcomes compared to those patients treated with the procedure alone.18 While as mentioned above, UpToDate, suggests that antibiotics be used in single abscess greater than 2 cm in size. As well, research has found that ultrasound guided incision and drainage provides lower failure rates (less recurrent infections or multiple incisions) compared to blind incision and drainage. Likely due to better visualization of the abscess and more adequate initial drainage.19


Limitations

There are some limitations to POCUS for SSTIs: ultrasound imaging and interpretation rely on the user’s ability to obtain high-quality images in order to assess whether an abscess is present. It is important for the user to be familiar with different findings on ultrasound to guide appropriate treatment. An abscess may appear hypoechoic, hyperechoic, or anechoic (depending on tissue contents), and usually has posterior acoustic enhancement.19 Determining if it is drainable can be difficult due to this variability in imaging, and it is also quite common for early abscesses to present like cellulitis with erythema, no fluctuance, and an ultrasound that is negative for a fluid collection.20 In cases of a suspected evolving abscess, sometimes referred to as a non-ripe abscess, supportive care, including warm compresses, pain control, and close follow-up, is recommended.20 The practitioner may treat this like cellulitis; however, the patient may return with perceived failure of therapy if discharge advice does not include the possibility of of an abscess forming over time.


Abscess examples from the SJ archives


References

  1. Moffarah AS, Al Mohajer M, Hurwitz BL, Armstrong DG. Skin and Soft Tissue Infections. Microbiol Spectr. 2016 Aug;4(4). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.DMIH2-0014-2015.

 

  1. Martinez, N. “Skin and Soft-Tissue Infections: Itʼs More Than Just Skin Deep.” Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, vol. 42, no. 3, 2020, pp. 196–203.

 

  1. Cieri, B., Conway, E., Sellick, J., & Mergenhagen, K. (2019). Identification of risk factors for failure in patients with skin and soft tissue infections. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 37(1), 48-52.

 

  1. Borgundvaag, B., Ng, W., Rowe, B., Katz, K., Farrell, Brian, Guimont, Chantal, . . . Gregson, Dan. (2013). Prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in skin and soft tissue infections in patients presenting to Canadian emergency departments. CJEM, 15(3), 141-160.

 

  1. Esposito, S., De Simone, G., Pan, A., Brambilla, P., Gattuso, G., Mastroianni, C., . . . Savalli, F. (2019). Epidemiology and Microbiology of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: Preliminary Results of a National Registry. Journal of Chemotherapy (Florence), 31(1), 9-14.

 

  1. Stenstrom, R., Grafstein, E., Romney, M., Fahimi, J., Harris, D., Hunte, G., . . . Christenson, J. (2009). Prevalence of and risk factors for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus skin and soft tissue infection in a Canadian emergency department. CJEM, 11(5), 430-8.

 

  1. Spelman, D., Baddour, LM. (2020). Cellulitis and skin abscess: Epidemiology, microbiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis In: UpToDate, Post TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA. Retrieved November 11, 2020. From: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/cellulitis-and-skin-abscess-epidemiology-microbiology-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis?search=abscess%20treatment&topicRef=110530&source=see_link#H2443336514

 

  1. Comer, Amanda B. “Point-of-Care Ultrasound for Skin and Soft Tissue Infections.” Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal, vol. 40, no. 4, 2018, pp. 296–303.

 

  1. Gaspari, R., Sanseverino, A., & Gleeson, T. (2019). Abscess Incision and Drainage With or Without Ultrasonography: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 73(1), 1-7.

 

  1. Tayal, V., Hasan, N., Norton, H., & Tomaszewski, C. (2006). The Effect of Soft‐tissue Ultrasound on the Management of Cellulitis in the Emergency Department. Academic Emergency Medicine, 13(4), 384-388.

 

  1. Alsaawi, A., Alrajhi, K., Alshehri, A., Ababtain, A., & Alsolamy, S. (2017). Ultrasonography for the diagnosis of patients with clinically suspected skin and soft tissue infections: A systematic review of the literature. European Journal of Emergency Medicine, 24(3), 162-169.

 

  1. Barbic, D., Chenkin, J., Cho, D., Jelic, T., & Scheuermeyer, F. (2017). In patients presenting to the emergency department with skin and soft tissue infections what is the diagnostic accuracy of point-of-care ultrasonography for the diagnosis of abscess compared to the current standard of care? A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open, 7(1), E013688.

 

  1. Atkinson DP, Bowra J, Harris T, Jarman B, Lewis D, editors. Point of Care Ultrasound for Emergency Medicine and Resuscitation. Oxford University Press; 2019. pp. 140, 199-200.

 

  1. Gottlieb, M., Schmitz, G., Grock, A., & Mason, J. (2018). What to Do After You Cut: Recommendations for Abscess Management in the Emergency Setting. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 71(1), 31-33.

 

  1. Castleberg, E., Jenson, N., & Dinh, V. (2014). Diagnosis of necrotizing faciitis with bedside ultrasound: The STAFF Exam. The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 15(1), 111-113.

 

  1. Stevens, D., Bisno, A., Chambers, H., Dellinger, E., Goldstein, E., Gorbach, S., . . . Wade, J. (2014). Practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of skin and soft tissue infections: 2014 update by the infectious diseases society of America. Clinical Infectious Diseases : An Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 59(2), 147-159.

 

  1. Spelman, D., Baddour, LM. (2020). Cellulitis and skin abscess in adults: treatment. In: UpToDate, Post TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA. Retrieved November 11, 2020. From: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/cellulitis-and-skin-abscess-in-adults-treatment?search=abscess%20treatment&topicRef=110529&source=see_link

 

  1. Russell, F., Rutz, M., Rood, L., Mcgee, J., & Sarmiento, E. (2020). Abscess Size and Depth on Ultrasound and Association with Treatment Failure without Drainage. The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 21(2), 336-342.

 

  1. Gaspari, R., Sanseverino, A., & Gleeson, T. (2019). Abscess Incision and Drainage With or Without Ultrasonography: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 73(1), 1-7.

 

  1. Thornton J, Hellmich T. Evaluation and Management of Abscesses in the Emergency Department. Emergency Medicine Reports. 2017 May 1;38(10).
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Fascia Iliaca Nerve Block

Hip Broke? Hip Block. Use of the fascia iliaca nerve block for analgesia in hip fractures.

Resident Clinical Pearl (RCP) July 2020

Luke Edgar, BScH MD

PGY1 Family Medicine Integrated Emergency Medicine

Dalhousie Saint John

 

Reviewed by Dr. David Lewis


Background

Hip fractures are a common and painful injury diagnosed and treated in the emergency department, with elderly patients representing the majority of cases. Advanced age, comorbidities, and increased sensitivity to side effects from systemic analgesia all pose challenges to achieving adequate pain control.1,2 Additionally, NSAID use in the elderly is frequently contraindicated due renal, cardiac, and gastrointestinal comorbidities as well as drug interactions. In elderly patients, both undertreated pain and opioid analgesia can precipitate delirium.3

Regional nerve blocks for the indication of hip and femoral neck fractures have been shown to reduce pain and need for IV opiates.1 Contraindications include infection over the injection site, patient refusal, and allergy to local anesthetic. Additionally, patients at risk for compartment syndrome (such as those with a concomitant ipsilateral tibial plateau fracture) should be selected cautiously as they may not reliably have increased pain after block.4

There are three main techniques described for regional nerve blocks to provide analgesia for hip and femoral neck fractures.1

  • Fascia Iliaca Nerve Block: Insert a needle through the fascia lata and fascia iliaca, to infiltrate dilute local anesthetic into the fascial compartment which diffuses to block the femoral, lateral femoral cutaneous, and obturator nerves.
  • Femoral Nerve Block: At the level of the femoral triangle, infiltrate local anesthetic around the femoral nerve.
  • 3-in-1 Femoral Nerve Block: At the level of the femoral triangle, infiltrate local anesthetic around the femoral nerve while applying pressure distal to the injection site, encouraging local anesthetic to track superiorly to block the femoral, lateral femoral cutaneous, and obturator nerves.

Figure 1. Lower limb peripheral nerve sensory distribution.5 Circled in red are the nerves blocked using the fascia iliaca technique. Cutaneous distribution of the obturator nerve is not depicted but consists of a small area on the proximal medial thigh.


Technique

Table 1. Supplies and equipment for performing a fascia iliaca nerve block

Table 2. Steps to complete a fascia iliaca nerve block6

Table 3. One person technique  – Steps to complete a fascia iliaca nerve block


Figure 2. Video demonstrating the sonoanatomy of the right femoral triangle. From lateral to medial, femoral nerve, artery and vein (NAVel), labeled with yellow, red, and blue arrows, respectively.


Figure 3. Sonoanatomy of the right femoral triangle, transverse view for the fascia iliaca nerve block.


Figure 4. Sonoanatomy of the right femoral triangle demonstrating ultrasound-guided needle placement using an in-plane technique. Note two pops should be felt as the needle crossed the two fascial planes.


 

For a visual review of these steps and ultrasonographic landmarks, please see the following videos and webpage by EM Ottawa, 5 Minute Sono, and NYSORA:

EM Ottawa

5 Minute Sono

NYSORA

Ultrasound-Guided Fascia Iliaca Block


 

Complications

Serious complications of this procedure are rare, but present.

  • Local Anesthetic Systemic Toxicity (LAST) as a complication of inadvertent intravenous or intra arterial anesthetic injection.7
    1. Incidence is 8 – 30 in 100,0008
    2. Manifestations typically occur within 20 minutes of injection (although onset can be as late as >1 hr) and are primarily neurologic and cardiovascular in nature. Neurologic effects include perioral numbness, metallic taste, mental status change or anxiety, muscle twitches and visual changes, followed by loss of consciousness and seizure. Cardiovascular effects are hypertension and tachycardia followed by arrhythmias, bradycardia, hypotension and cardiac arrest.
    3. Treatment is with intravenous lipid emulsion therapy (Intralipid 20%) 1.5 mL/kg bolus followed by 0.25 mL/kg/min, Maximum total dose 12 mL/kg. Contact your poison control centre if you suspect LAST.
    4. Prior to performing a fascia iliaca block, confirm availability of intralipid within your department to be used in the event of this rare complication.
  • Femoral Nerve injury secondary to intrafascicular injection
    1. Incidence 2-30/100,0008
    2. Most symptoms of paresthesias, numbness, and weakness resolved after several months in the event of this complication8
  • Other complications include infection, nerve block failure, injury secondary to numbness/weakness of limb, and allergy to the local anesthetic.

 

Take Home Message

Femoral nerve blocks are recommended for hip and femoral fractures to reduce pain and opioid analgesia requirements. Given that poor pain control and opioid analgesia are risk factors for delirium in elderly patients, hip blocks may also reduce rates of delirium (further study required). A fascia iliaca block with 20 cc of 0.5% bupivacaine is a well described technique with very few contraindications. To reduce the risk of complications, these blocks should be completed using sterile technique under ultrasound guidance with the help of an assistant. Hip broke? Hip block.

 


 

References

  • Ritcey B, Pageau P, Woo M, Perry J. Regional Nerve Blocks For Hip and Femoral Neck Fractures in the Emergency Department: A Systematic Review. CJEM 2015;18(1):37-47.
  • Hwang U, Richardson LD, Sonuyi TO, Morrison RS. The effect of emergency department crowding on the management of pain in older adults with hip fractures. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006;54(2):270-5.
  • Morrison RS, Magaziner J, Gilbert M, et al. Relationship between pain and opioid analgesics on the development of delirium following hip fracture. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2003;58(1):76-81.
  • Erak M, EM Ottawa Grand Rounds. Ah, that feels better! The Use of Nerve Blocks in the ED. 2016. https://emottawablog.com/2016/10/ah-that-feels-better-the-use-of-nerve-blocks-in-the-ed/. Accessed July 25, 2020.
  • Gray H. 1918. Nerve supply of the leg. Anatomy of the Human Body. Image retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerve_supply_of_the_human_leg. Accessed July 24, 2020
  • Woo M. How to perform the Ultrasound Guided Femoral Nerve Block. EM Ottawa. 2018. https://youtu.be/_OugsPA4rxY Accessed July 25, 2020.
  • Warren L, Pak A. Local anesthetic systemic toxicity. UpToDate. 2019. uptodate.com/contents/local-anesthetic-systemic-toxicity. Accessed July 25, 2019.
  • Helman, A, Morgenstern, J, Spiegel, R, Lee, J. Regional Nerve Blocks for Hip Fractures. Emergency Medicine Cases. August, 2018. https://emergencymedicinecases.com/regional-nerve-blocks-hip-fractures/. Accessed July 25, 2020.
  • Haines L, Dickman E, Ayvazyan S, et al. Ultrasound-guided fascia iliaca compartment block for hip fractures in the emergency department. J of Ultrasound in Emergency Medicine 2012;43(4):692-697.

 

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Lung PoCUS – Podcast

Lung PoCUS in Pediatric Emergency Medicine – Podcast

PoCUS Fellowship Clinical Pearl (RCP) May 2020

Dr. Mandy Peach (Emergency Physician and Dalhousie PoCUS Fellow, Saint John, NB, Canada)

Reviewed by Dr. David Lewis

 


Extract:

“My name is Mandy Peach and I am Emergency Physician at the Saint John Regional Hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick. I’m currently completing a PoCUS Fellowship and a pediatric rotation through the IWK Emergency Department in Halifax…….

What is the evidence for the use of PoCUS and diagnosing pediatric pneumonia. Well trained PoCUS Physicians can identify pneumonia with a sensitivity of 89% and a specificity of 94%, compared community-acquired pneumonia chest x-ray has a sensitivity of 69% and a specificity of 100%, if you see it great…. but what about early bacterial pneumonia and this case PoCUS has the upper hand, and if you consider consolidations behind the heart that can be visualized on PoCUS and obscured on chest x-ray – PoCUS 2  chest x-ray zero. So clearly it’s a useful tool to have when trying to differentiate between bacterial pneumonia that requires treatment and viral causes that would indicate conservative management. So how do we actually ultrasound the lungs…..the first step is to make the kid comfortable scan them in a position of comfort for example and their parents arms what the patient touch the ultrasound gel or the probe so it’s less of a scary thing maybe play their favourite music or YouTube video on the background or give them their favourite or snack do you want to choose a high frequency linear probe and scanning the longitudinal plane ……….”

 

Listen to the Podcast for some useful tips on performing and interpreting lung ultrasound in the pediatric population.

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PoCUS in COVID

Point of Care Ultrasound (PoCUS) during the Covid-19 pandemic – Is this point of care tool more efficacious than standard imaging?

Resident Clinical Pearl (RCP) May 2020

Dr. Colin Rouse– (PGY-3  CCFP Emergency Medicine) | Dalhousie University

and Dr. Sultan Alrobaian (Dalhousie PoCUS Fellow, Saint John, NB, Canada)

Reviewed by Dr. David Lewis

 


Case

A 70 year of woman present to the ED with a history of fever, cough and dyspnoea. After a full clinical assessment (with appropriate PPE), Lung PoCUS is performed.


Introduction

The Covid-19 Pandemic has created the largest international public health crisis in decades. It has fundamentally changed both societal norms and health care delivery worldwide. Changes have been implemented into resuscitation protocols including ACLS to prioritise appropriate donning of personal protective equipment (PPE) and consideration of resuscitation appropriateness prior to patient contact.1 Equipment has been removed from rooms to limit cross-contamination between patients. In this Pearl we will explore why PoCUS should not be discarded as an unnecessary tool and should be strongly considered in the assessment of a potential Covid Patient.

Disclaimer: Given the novel nature of CoVid-19 there is a lack of RCT data to support the use of PoCUS. These recommendations are based solely on expert opinion and case reports until superior evidence becomes available.


Potential Benefits of PoCUS

  • Lung PoCUS has increased sensitivity compared to conventional lung X-ray for known lung pathologies such as CHF4 and Pneumonia5 with similar specificities. Given that Pneumonia is the most common complication of Covid-19 it may help diagnose this complication in patients who have a normal CXR.
  • PoCUS can be performed by the assessing physician limiting the unnecessary exposure to other health care providers such and Radiologic Technologists and other staff in the diagnostic imaging department.
  • Lung PoCUS is low cost, repeatable and available in rural settings
  • Once pneumonia is diagnosed other potential complications can be sought including VTE and cardiovascular complications.

The assessment of the potential Covid-19 patient.

First one must consider the potential risk for coronavirus transmission at each patient encounter and ensure proper PPE2 for both oneself and the PoCUS device3.


Lung Ultrasound in the potential Covid-19 Patient

Technique

  • Appropriate level PPE
  • A low-frequency (3–5 MHz) curvilinear transducer
  • Set Focus to Pleural Line and turn off machine filters (e.g THI) to maximize artifacts
  • Scanning should be completed in a 12-zone assessment6
    • 2 anterior windows
    • 2 lateral windows
    • 2 posterior windows

Findings7

Mild Disease

  • Focal Patchy B-lines in early disease/mild infection (May have normal CXR at this point)
  • Areas of normal lung

 

Moderate/Severe Disease – Findings of bilateral Pneumonitis

  • B-lines begin to coalesce (waterfall sign)
  • Thickened and irregular pleura
  • Subpleural Hypoechoic consolidation      +/- air bronchograms

 

Other Covid-19 Pearls

  • Large/Moderate Pleural Effusion rarely seen in Covid-19 (consider another diagnosis) – Small peripleural effusions are common in COVID
  • The virus has a propensity for the base of the posterior lung windows and it imperative to include these views in your assessment.


Example COVID PoCUS Videos8

Confluent B Lines and small sub pleural consolidation

 

Patchy B lines and Irregular pleura

 

Irregular pleura

 

Air Bronchogram


CT & ultrasonographic features of COVID-19 pneumonia9

It has been noted that lung abnormalities may develop before clinical manifestations and nucleic acid detection with some experts recommending early Chest CT for screening suspected patients.10 Obviously there are challenges with this recommendation mainly regarding feasibility and infection control. A group of researchers in China compared Ultrasound and CT findings in 20 patients with COVID-19. Their findings are summarized in the table below:

Their conclusion was that ultrasound has a major utility for management of COVID-19 due to its safety, repeatability, absence of radiation, low cost and point of care use. CT can be reserved for patients with a clinical question not answered by PoCUS. CT is required to assess for pneumonia that does not extend to the pleura. Scatter artifact from aerated lung obscures visualization of deep lung pathology with PoCUS. When PoCUS is sufficient it can be used to assess disease severity at presentation, track disease evolution, monitor lung recruitment maneuvers and prone positioning and guide decisions related to weaning of mechanical ventilation.


Learning Points

  • Lung PoCUS is helpful in the initial assessment of the suspected or known COVID19 Patient
  • Lung PoCUS may reveal pathology not visible on CXR
  • Lung PoCUS can provide insight into COVID19 disease severity
  • Lung PoCUS is a useful tool to track disease progression in COVID19

Lung PoCUS in COVID Deep Dive

Deep Dive Lung PoCUS – COVID 19 Pandemic

 

 


References

  1. Edelson, D. P., Sasson, C., Chan, P. S., Atkins, D. L., Aziz, K., Becker, L. B., … & Escobedo, M. (2020). Interim Guidance for Basic and Advanced Life Support in Adults, Children, and Neonates With Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19: From the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee and Get With the Guidelines®-Resuscitation Adult and Pediatric Task Forces of the American Heart Association in Collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Respiratory Care, American College of Emergency Physicians, The Society of Critical Care Anesthesiologists, and American Society of …. Circulation.
  2. COVID-19 – Infection Protection and Control. http://sjrhem.ca/covid-19-infection-protection-and-control/
  3. Johri, A. M., Galen, B., Kirkpatrick, J. N., Lanspa, M., Mulvagh, S., & Thamman, R. (2020). ASE Statement on Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) During the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography.
  4. Maw, A. M., Hassanin, A., Ho, P. M., McInnes, M., Moss, A., Juarez-Colunga, E., Soni, N. J., Miglioranza, M. H., Platz, E., DeSanto, K., Sertich, A. P., Salame, G., & Daugherty, S. L. (2019). Diagnostic Accuracy of Point-of-Care Lung Ultrasonography and Chest Radiography in Adults With Symptoms Suggestive of Acute Decompensated Heart Failure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA network open, 2(3), e190703. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0703
  5. Balk, D. S., Lee, C., Schafer, J., Welwarth, J., Hardin, J., Novack, V., … & Hoffmann, B. (2018). Lung ultrasound compared to chest X‐ray for diagnosis of pediatric pneumonia: A meta‐analysis. Pediatric pulmonology, 53(8), 1130-1139.
  6. Wurster, C., Turner, J., Kim, D., Woo, M., Robichaud, L. CAEP. COVID-19 Town Hall April 15: Hot Topics in POCUS and COVID-19. https://caep.ca/covid-19-town-hall-april-15-hot-topics-in-pocus-and-covid-19/
  7. Riscinti, M. Macias, M., Scheel, T., Khalil, P., Toney, A., Thiessen, M., Kendell, J. Denver Health Ultrasound Card. http://www.thepocusatlas.com/covid19
  8. Images obtained from. Ultrasound in COVID-19. The PoCUS Atlas. http://www.thepocusatlas.com/covid19
  9. Peng, Q., Wang, X. & Zhang, L. Findings of lung ultrasonography of novel corona virus pneumonia during the 2019–2020 epidemic. Intensive Care Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-05996-6
  10. National Health Commission of the people’s Republic of China. Diagnosis and treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia (trial, the fifth version)[EB/OL]. (2020-02-05)[2020-02-06]. http://www.nhc.gov.cn/yzygj/s7653p/202002/3b09b894ac9b4204a79db5b8912d4440.shtml
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Deep Dive Lung PoCUS – COVID 19 Pandemic

SJRHEM Weekly COVID-19 Rounds – May 2020

Dr. David Lewis


 

 

Part One covers aspects of core and advanced aspects of lung ultrasound application including: Zones, Technique, and Artifacts

Part Two covers PoCUS in COVID, the recent research, PoCUS findings, Infection Protection and Control, Indications and Pathways.


Part 1

 


Part 2

 

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Whose Line is it Anyway? – PoCUS in a Patient with Dyspnea

Medical Student Clinical Pearl – March 2020

Nguyet (Na) Nguyen

MD Class of 2021
Memorial University of Newfoundland

Reviewed and Edited by Dr. David Lewis

All case histories are illustrative and not based on any individual


 

Case Report

ID: 60 y/o M with dyspnea presenting to the ED late evening

HPI: Patient complained of increasing SOB starting the morning on day of presentation, with a worsening 3 days of non-productive cough. No chest pain or other cardiac features. No complaint suggestive of URTI or GI illness. Patient was given Atrovent and Ventolin en route by EMS, and was allegedly moving more air into his lungs after this intervention. Patient reports no ankle swelling, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, but reports using 2 pillows to elevate himself when sleeping. Patient reports no fever, unexplained weight loss or fatigue.

Past medical history includes chronic back pain, DM, atrial fibrillation, peripheral DM-related ulcers, chronic kidney disease, BPH, colon cancer with hepatic metastases. Past surgical history significant for 5x CABG, liver and colon resection.

His medications are amitriptyline 10mg PO qhs, acetaminophen 650mg PO BID, dutasteride 0.5mg PO daily, ferrous sulfate 300mg PO daily, furosemide 40mg PO BID, metformin 500mg BID, pantoprazole 40mg PO BID, pregabalin 150mg PO BID, primidone 125mg PO daily, rosuvastatin 40mg PO qhs, rivaroxaban 15mg PO daily.

He has a distant 10 pack-years smoking history, drinks alcohol occasionally, and does not use recreational drugs. The patient lives with his wife in their own home.

Physical exam: Patient was markedly pale, non-diaphoretic, in tripod position with increased work of breathing. His temperature was 36.9, regular pulse rate at 105, respiratory rate 22, oxygen saturation 90% on room air and a nebulizer mask through which he was receiving aerosolized Atrovent and Ventolin. His BP was 125/78mmHg.

Cardiovascular exam revealed distant S1S2 in a chest with no visible deformity. His JVD was at the level of the sternal angle, there was no pedal edema bilateral. Capillary refill was 3 seconds bilateral at the thumbs. Percussion revealed no focal dullness, however on auscultation, basal crackles were heard more prominently in the right lung base, though also present on the left. There were also wheezes noted in the upper lobes heard in the anterior chest. Abdomen was soft, non-distended, non-tender. Neurological exam unremarkable.

Investigations: ECG showed sinus tachycardia with a LBBB, bloods drawn for routine labs, VBG, lactate, CXR ordered.

Differential diagnosis: AECOPD vs congestive heart failure.

PoCUS (Arrival Time + 10 mins): B-lines were observed in both lungs when a curvilinear probe was placed over different areas of the anterior chest. A small pleural effusion was also noted at the bottom of the right lung. B-lines represent increased fluid in an area of the lung, and given different clinical contexts maye represent pulmonary edema, pneumonia, or pulmonary contusion. In this case the most likely explanation for bilateral diffuse B-Lines is CHF and Pulmonary Edema. 

Working Diagnosis (Arrival Time + 10 mins): CHF and Pulmonary Edema

Management (Arrival Time + 15 mins): Pending transfer fo CXR and results of investigations the patient was treated with intravenous diuretics. He passed 500mls of urine and his symptoms improved considerably.

 

Investigations Results (Arrival Time + 45 mins): leukocytes 6.4, hemoglobin 83, platelet 165, sodium 140, potassium 5/0, chloride 101, creatinine 120, urea 11.7, glucose 17.0. Venous blood gas showed pH 7.31, pCO2 555, HCO3- 28 and lactate 2.7.

CXR (Arrival Time + 45 mins):

CXR was similar to above, this image is from: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/acute-pulmonary-oedema-6

 

Final impression: Congestive heart failure


What are B Lines?

These are the ultrasound equivalent of Kerley-B lines often reported on chest X-ray, which indicate edema in the lungs. For an exam to be positive (i.e indicative of pathology), one needs to see a minimum of 3 B-lines per view. B-lines look like flashlight beams traveling undisrupted down the entire ultrasound screen, as seen in the images above obtained during the exam.

These need to be distinguished from other artifacts such as ‘A-lines’ and ‘comet tails’. A-lines are seen in normal lungs. These are ‘repetitive reverberation’ artifacts of the normal pleura in motion. (Figure 1)(1)

‘Comet tails’- reported first by Lichenstein et al. in 1998 (although he was describing B-Lines in this paper) (Figure 2) (1), are ‘short, hypoechoic artifacts’ that only descend vertically partially down the screen. These are normal lung artifacts. This paper explains “a common misunderstanding in lung ultrasound” nomenclature that stems from Lichtenstein’s original paper.

Download pdf

 

From: https://www.mdedge.com/emergencymedicine/article/96697/imaging/emergency- ultrasound-lung-assessment

 


More on Comet Tails Artifact in this post from LitFL:

Comet tail artefact

 


 

Protocols

There are multiple protocols that guide the ultrasound technique (4) , some of which are:

  • Lichenstein et al (1998): longitudinal scans of anterior and lateral chest walls of patients in semi- recumbent position. Positive test defined as bilateral multiple B-lines diffuse anterolateral or lateral. The protocol had reported sensitivity (true positive) of 100%, and specificity (true negative) 92% for cardiogenic pulmonary edema. Blue Protocol (2015)
  • Liteplo et al (2008): anterior and lateral chest walls with patient supine: each chest divided into 4 zones (anterior, lateral, upper and lower). Positive test: pathologic pattern found in >1 zone on each side, with both sides involved.
  • Volpicelli et al. (2008): longitudinal scans of supine patients with chest divided into 11 areas (3 anterior R, 3 lateral R, 2 anterior L, 3 lateral L) to obtain score 0-11. Scores strongly correlated with radiologic and BNP (lab marker of CHF) at presentation.

 

 


 

What is the Evidence?

Al Deeb et al. conducted a systematic review and analysis of prospective cohort and prospective case-control studies in the ED, IDU, inpatient wards and prehospital settings (n = 1075). This was published in Acad Emerg Med (2014), which reported a sensitivity of 94.1% for using B-lines to diagnosis acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema (ACPE), and a specificity of 92.4% for patients with a moderate- high pretest probability for ACPE.

The SIMEU Multicenter study reported in 2015 reported a significantly higher accuracy (97% sensitivity and 97.4% specificity) with an approach incorporating lung ultrasound (LUS) in differentiating acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) and non-cardiac causes of acute dyspnea, compared to approaches using the initial clinical workup (past medical history, history of presenting illness, physical examination, ECG, ABG), chest X-ray alone and natriuretic peptides.

Martindale et al. reported in 2016 (Academic Emergency Medicine) high positive likelihood ratio of pulmonary edema observed on lung ultrasound and low negative likelihood ratio of B-line pattern on lung US in affirming the presence of acute heart failure, after a systematic review and analysis of 57 prospective and cross-sectional studies (n = 1,918).

A useful Systematic Review “Emergency department ultrasound for the detection of B-lines in the early diagnosis of acute decompensated heart failure: a systematic review and meta-analysis ” from McGivery et al from SJRHEM (7), was published in 2018.


 

Learning Point

For a patient presenting to the ER with dyspnea, using PoCUS to observe 3 or more B-lines in two bilateral lung zones +/- pleural effusion can rapidly guide an accurate diagnosis of acute congestive heart failure.


 

References

  1. Taylor, T., Meer, J., Beck, S. Emerg Med. (2015) https://www.mdedge.com/emergencymedicine/article/96697/imaging/emergency- ultrasound-lung-assessment Last accessed Feb 29, 2020
  2. Lee, FCY, Jenssen, C., Dietrich, CF Med Ultrason (2018); 20(3): 379-384
  3. Ang SH. & Andrus P Curr Cardiol Rev. 2012 May; 8(2): 123-136https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3406272/
  4. Al. Deeb M., Barbic S., Featherstone R., Dankoff J., Barbic D. Acad Emerg Med 2014 Aug; 21(8): 843-52 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25176151
  5. Pivetta E et al. Chest. 2015 Jul; 148(1): 202-210 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25654562/
  6. Martindale JL, Wakai A, Collins SP, Levy PD, Diercks D, Hiestand BC, Fermann GJ, deSouza I, Sinert R, Acad Emerg Med. 2016 Mar; 23(3): 223-242 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26910112
  7. McGivery K, Atkinson P, Lewis D, et al. Emergency department ultrasound for the detection of B-lines in the early diagnosis of acute decompensated heart failure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CJEM. 2018;20(3):343‐352. doi:10.1017/cem.2018.27

 

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