FOAM

Episode 45 – Diverticulitis

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The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

Life in the Fast Lane Research and Reviews (LITFL R&R) #121  featured a section on the new American Gastroenterology Association (AGA) guidelines on diverticulitis. The game changer?  Antibiotics aren’t a requirement in select patients with uncomplicated acute diverticulitis [1].

The guidelines based this recommendation on two studies, previously covered by Dr. Ryan Radecki on Emergency Medicine literature of note over the past 3 years. This post details a prospective observational study on antibiotics for acute diverticulitis [2].  In another post, Dr. Radecki discusses an RCT of antibiotics (ABX) vs IV fluids only.

  • 623 patients with an episode with a short history and with clinical signs of diverticulitis, with fever (>38 Celsius) and inflammatory parameters, verified by computed tomography (CT), and without any sign of complications (fistula, perforation, abscess) or signs of sepsis
  • Randomized to IVF only or IVF + antibiotics
  • Primary Outcome – 6 patients (1.9%) developed complications in the no ABX arm vs 3 patients (1.0%) in the ABX arm (not statistically significant). Overall study complication rate was 1.4% [3].

Of note, since 2012, the Cochrane Review suggests that antibiotics may not be necessary in uncomplicated appendicitis [4].

A note on LITFL R&R – every week this blog post features 5-10 high yield articles, culled from contributors across the globe from all kinds of literature – pediatrics, critical care, emergency medicine, etc. It is difficult to keep up with the literature and some have estimated that the number needed to read (NNR) to of 20-200, depending on the journal [5].  Those looking for high yield articles may find their time well spent focused on this cherry picked selection of articles.

Core Content

We delve into core content on diverticula and clostridium difficile using Rosen’s Medicine (8e),  Chapters 31, 173 and Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide  (7e) Chapters 76, 85.

Diverticulosis

Diverticula are small herniations through the wall of the colon (small outpouchings). Often this is asymptomatic, identified incidentally on imaging or colonoscopy. Most common cause of lower gastrointestinal bleeding (LGIB) in adults in the U.S.

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis Algorithm

Diverticulitis Algorithm

Clostridium Difficile (c. diff)

C. Difficile

 

Note on testing – asymptomatic carriage rates of c.diff vary based on the population but may be between 3-50%.  Textbooks quote a 3% carriage rate in newborns and rates of 20%-50% in hospitals and long term care facilities, respectively [10,11].

C. diff historically has a unique odor, refrains of “it smells like c. diff” echo in the halls.  Yet this does not perform very well, essentially a coin flip based on a 2013 study by  Rao and colleagues.  They  had 18 nurses smell 10 stool samples (5 c. diff positive and 5 c. diff neg) and found the median percent correct identification of c. diff positive vs negative was 45% [6]. 

Rosh Review Questions

Question 1.

Question 2.A 75-year-old woman presents with several days of voluminous watery stools. She was discharged from the hospital one week ago following treatment for pneumonia. Stool studies reveal C. difficile toxin

Answers:

  1. C. Patients who present with uncomplicated diverticulitis should be treated with oral antibiotics for 7-10 days. Diverticulitis is an inflammation of the diverticulum in the large intestine. In uncomplicated cases of diverticulitis, patients present with abdominal pain typically in the left lower quadrant with tenderness to palpation in the same area. Patients should not have peritoneal signs or masses on examination. Complicated diverticulitis is defined as the presence of either extensive inflammation or complications such as abscess, peritonitis or obstruction. Patients with uncomplicated diverticulitis can be empirically treated with antibiotics (typically as an outpatient) for 7-10 days. Patients with uncomplicated diverticulitis typically do not require CT imaging (A). Patients with complicated diverticulitis should be treated with intravenous antibiotics (B) and admitted to the hospital. Ultrasound (D) has shown promise in diagnosing diverticulitis but CT is the imaging modality of choice.
  2. C.C. difficile infection is caused by a spore-forming obligate anaerobic bacillus that causes a spectrum of disease ranging from diarrhea to pseudomembranous colitis. C. difficile is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients in the United States. Risk factors for infection include broad-spectrum antibiotic use, particularly clindamycin, though other antibiotics have also been implicated. Additional risk factors include prolonged hospitalization, advanced age, and underlying comorbidities. The spectrum of clinical manifestations includes frequent watery stools to a more toxic clinical presentation with profuse stools (up to 20-30 per day), crampy abdominal pain, fever, leukocytosis, and hypovolemia. C. difficile colitis should be suspected in patients who develop diarrhea while taking or after recent cessation of antibiotics, or among recently discharged patients who develop diarrhea. Diagnosis is confirmed by identification of C.difficile toxin in the stool. Colonoscopy, while not usually necessary for diagnosis, reveals characteristic yellowish plaques in the intestinal lumen, confirming pseudomembranous colitis. Treatment for C. difficile infection depends on disease severity. Previously healthy patients with very mild symptoms may be managed by cessation of the offending antibiotic and close clinical monitoring. Oral metronidazole, 500 mg po every 6 hours for 10-14 days is the treatment for moderately severe colitis. Severely ill patients should be hospitalized and treated with oral vancomycin, 125 mg po every 6 hours for 10-14 days.

References:

  1. Stollman N, Smalley W, Hirano I, AGA Institute Clinical Guidelines Committee. American Gastroenterological Association Institute Guideline on the Management of Acute Diverticulitis. Gastroenterology. 2015;149(7):1944–9. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2015.10.003.
  2. Isacson D, Thorisson A, Andreasson K, Nikberg M, Smedh K, Chabok A. Outpatient, non-antibiotic management in acute uncomplicated diverticulitis: a prospective study. Int J Colorectal Dis. 2015;30(9):1229–1234. doi:10.1007/s00384-015-2258-y.
  3. Chabok A, Phlman L, Hjern F, Haapaniemi S, Smedh K. Randomized clinical trial of antibiotics in acute uncomplicated diverticulitis. Br J Surg. 2012;99(4):532–539. doi:10.1002/bjs.8688.
  4. Shabanzadeh DM1, Wille-Jørgensen P.Antibiotics for uncomplicated diverticulitis.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Nov 14;11:CD009092. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009092.pub2. 
  5. McKibbon KA, Wilczynski NL, Haynes RB. What do evidence-based secondary journals tell us about the publication of clinically important articles in primary care journals? BMC Med. 2004;2:33.
  6. Rao K, Berland D, Young C, Walk ST, Newton DW. The Nose Knows Not: Poor Predictive Value of Stool Sample Odor for Detection of Clostridium difficile. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 56(4):615-616. 2012.
  7. “Chapter 85: Diverticulitis.” Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 7e.New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011. p 578-581.
  8. “Disorders of the Large Intestine.” Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, 8th e. p 1261-1275.
  9. “Gastrointestinal Bleeding.”  Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, 8th e. p 248-253.
  10.  “Infectious Diarrheal Disease and Dehydration.” Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, 8th ep 2188-2204.
  11. “Chapter 76: Disorders Presenting Primarily with Diarrhea.” Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 7e.New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011. p 534-535

Episode 41 – Vertigo

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The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

We cover two bits of FOAM, one from Emergency Medicine Literature of note on the use of meclizine for vertigo and an EMcrit episode on the HiNTs exam.

Emergency Medicine Literature of Note – Dr. Ryan Radecki – Treating what you believe is peripheral vertigo?  Using meclizine? So are most people.  But this is not an evidence based practice.  While meclizine is Rosen approved, Tintinalli recommends transdermal scopolamine as the first line treatment [1,2]. Following a recent recall of meclizine (oddly because iron bottles contained meclizine instead of iron), Dr. Radecki probes into why we use meclizine for vertigo.

  • Meclizine is an anti-histamine and has been thought to have anti-emetic properties.
  • A 1968 paper compared 16 anti-emetics/combinations and did NOT conclude that meclizine was the best. In fact, scopolamine and amphetamine performed best. Promethazine (phenergan) is also a good choice based on this paper [3].

EMcrit – Dr. Scott Weingart – The HiNTs exam has taken off, particularly in the FOAM world, as a means of disguising between central and peripheral causes of vertigo. In 2010, an EMcrit episode popularized this in the FOAM world. See this video demonstrating the HiNTs exam.

  • Head Impulse – rapid head rotation by the examiner with the subject’s vision fixed on an object (i.e. examiner’s nose). The examiner rapidly rotates the head towards midline and the patient’s eyes should remain fixed on the target. 
    • Abnormal (loss of fixation on target and movement of eyes away from target followed by correct saccade as patient fixates on target) = peripheral (vestibulo-ocular reflex impaired)
    • Normal = central
  • Nystagmus 
    • Horizontal nystagmus with a unidirectional fast phase (away from affected side) = probably peripheral
      • Patients with horizontal nystagmus may have central pathology but may have direction-changing nystagmus (i.e. fast phase beating in one direction when looking to right and the opposite direction when looking left).
    • Vertical or nystagmus = central pathology
  • Test of Skew Patients should fixate on a target while the provider alternately covers each eye. As the cover is moved from one eye to the other, the uncovered eye must correct for the misalignment and will look up or down to focus back on the target. This slight correction is observed repeatedly as the cover is moved from one eye to the other.
    • Skew deviation/misalignment = probably central, often in posterior fossa abnormalities
    • No skew deviation= peripheral

INFARCT – Impulse Normal, Fast-phase Alternating nystagmus, and Refixation on Cover Test

Issues with HiNTs

  • Can only be performed on patients with continuous vertigo.
  • External validity is a major issue with HiNTs.
    • Providers – Of the 4 studies have examined the operating characteristics of HiNTs, none have used emergency providers and instead have examined how the exam performs in the hands of two neuro-ophthalmologists, neuro-otologists, and neurologists with 4 hours of specialized training in the exam. It’s unclear whether HiNTs would be reliable or valid when performed by emergency providers [4-6].
    • Patients – The patients examined in many of these studies have other indicators of badness on neurologic exam. In one study, patients had to have gait instability and/or truncal ataxia to enroll.  Then, 76/101 (76%) of those patients had a central cause. These patients were sick and not the undifferentiated vertiginous patients we see primarily as emergency providers [4-6].
    • In the words of leading HiNTs expert Dr. Newman-Toker, HiNTs “requires expertise not routinely available in emergency departments.” As such, his team is piloting quantitative video-oculography to aid in diagnosis using HiNTs [7]. An Annals of Emergency Medicine review also warned that HiNTs may not be ready for emergency provider use [9].

More FOAM on HiNTs: EMJclub, EMNerd

Core content 

We delve into core content on vertigo using Rosen’s Medicine (8e) Chapter 19,  and Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide  (7e) Chapter 164 “Vertigo and Dizziness.”

Vertigo is often characterized by the sensation of spinning and falls into the broad and frustrating category of “dizziness.”  Often, when a dizzy patient presents we perseverate on characterizes what the patient means by “dizzy.” However, some argue that this is not an appropriate approach as a study found 50% of patients changed the character of their dizziness when questioned again after 10 minutes [9].  Additionally, the clinical characteristics differentiating peripheral from central causes of vertigo are not entirely reliable. Despite these limitations, it is expected that we are familiar with “classic” presentations.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.32.04 AM

*”Classic” presentations

Generously Donated Rosh Review Questions 

  1. A 50-year-old man presents with episodic severe vertigo lasting hours, with associated symptoms of unilateral tinnitus, fluctuating low-frequency hearing loss, and aural fullness. 
  2. A 20-year-old woman presents with an acute onset of dizziness. The patient describes the sensation that the room is spinning when she turns her head to the left and it is accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The symptoms resolve with turning her head away from that side. Examination reveals nystagmus elicited by deviating the eyes to the left and no other neurologic findings. 

Answers

1. B. Meniere’s disease is characterized by episodic severe vertigo lasting hours, with associated symptoms of unilateral tinnitus, fluctuating low-frequency hearing loss, and aural fullness. Typical onset is in the fifth decade of life. The cause is uncertain but is speculated to result from allergic, infectious, or autoimmune injury. The histopathologic finding includes endolymphatic hydrops, which is thought to be caused by either overproduction or underresorption of endolymph in the inner ear. Meniere’s disease is a clinical diagnosis mostly based on history. Testing may be obtained to support the diagnosis and rule out other disorders. Audiometry often demonstrates a low-frequency sensorineural hearing loss. An FTA-ABS test may be obtained to rule out syphilis. Electronystagmography (ENG) may demonstrate a unilateral peripheral vestibular weakness on caloric testing. When the diagnosis is uncertain, a brain MRI with contrast is obtained to evaluate for a retrocochlear lesion. The differential diagnosis of Meniere’s disease includes acute labyrinthitis, neurosyphilis, labyrinthine fistula, autoimmune inner ear disease, vestibular neuronitis, and migraine-associated vertigo.The most common cause of peripheral vestibular vertigo in adults is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (A). BPPV occurs in all age groups but more often between ages 50 and 70 but is not associated with hearing loss and made worse with movement. In a perilymph fistula (C) rapid changes in air pressure (barotrauma), otologic surgery, violent nose blowing or sneezing, head trauma, or chronic ear disease may cause leakage of perilymph fluid from the inner ear into the middle ear and result in episodes of vertigo. Associated signs and symptoms are variable but can include a sudden pop in the ear followed by hearing loss, vertigo, and sometimes tinnitus. Acute vertigo associated with nausea and vomiting (but without neurologic or audiologic symptoms) that originates in the vestibular nerve is known as vestibular neuronitis (D). Vestibular neuronitis can occur spontaneously or can follow viral illness.

2. B. This patient presents with peripheral vertigo most consistent with benign paroxysmal peripheral vertigo (BPPV) and should be treated with an Epley maneuver. Vertigo is defined as the sensation of disorientation in space combined with a sensation of motion. Patients typically describe a “room-spinning” sensation or the feeling of sea sickness. Vertigo can be divided into two types: central and peripheral. Central vertigo are those disorders arising from the central nervous system and include ischemic stroke, vertebrobasilar insufficiency and infectious causes (meningitis, mastoiditis, syphilis). Central vertigo is characterized by longer duration of symptoms, minimal change with position, gradual onset and multidirectional nystagmus. Peripheral vertigo includes BPPV, Meniere’s disease, Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis. Peripheral vertigo may have intermittent symptoms (BPPV) or continuous symptoms but should not be associated with other neurologic deficits or changes and should have unidirectional nystagmus. The symptoms in BPPV are elicited by specific movements of the head and relieved by returning the head to a neutral position. The symptoms should be acute in onset and of a short duration. In BPPV, the symptoms are cause by the presence of an otolith in one of the semicircular canals. Although pharmacologic intervention may be necessary in the acute setting with meclizine or benzodiazepines, the best treatment for BPPV is the Epley maneuver. The Epley maneuver is a series of positions that the clinician takes the patient through that leads to expulsion of the otolith from the semicircular canal and relief of symptoms. Imaging with a non-contrast head CT (C) is not indicated in peripheral vertigo of any cause as the patient’s pathology is in the inner ear and not the brain. If a central cause is suspected, MRI of the brain (A) is the best test for diagnosis as the causative lesion will likely be in the posterior fossa, which is not seen well on CT scan. Steroid treatment (D) is the indicated management for vestibular neuritis but does not play a role in the treatment of BPPV.

References:

  1. Chang AK, Olshaker AS. Dizziness and Vertigo. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM eds.  Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, 8th e.
  2. Goldman B. Chapter 164. Vertigo and Dizziness. In: Tintinalli JE, Stapczynski J, Ma O, Cline DM, Cydulka RK, Meckler GD, T. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 7e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011.
  3. Wood CD, Graybiel A. Evaluation of sixteen anti-motion sickness drugs under controlled laboratory conditions. Aerospace medicine. 39(12):1341-4. 1968.
  4. Newman-Toker DE, Kattah JC, Alvernia JE, Wang DZ. Normal head impulse test differentiates acute cerebellar strokes from vestibular neuritis. Neurology. 70(24 Pt 2):2378-85. 2008.
  5. Kattah et al. HINTS to Diagnose Stroke in the Acute Vestibular Syndrome Three-Step Bedside Oculomotor Examination More Sensitive Than Early MRI Diffusion-Weighted Imaging. Stroke. 2009; 40: 3504-3510
  6. Newman-Toker et al. HINTS Outperforms ABCD2 to Screen for Stroke in Acute Continuous Vertigo and Dizziness. Academic Emergency Medicine. Volume 20, Issue 10, pages 986–996, October 2013
  7. Newman-Toked DE, Saber Tehran AS, Mantokoudis G et al. Quantitative video-oculography to help diagnose stroke in acute vertigo and dizziness: toward an ECG for the eyes. Stroke. 44(4):1158-61
  8. Cohn B. Can Bedside Oculomotor (HINTS) Testing Differentiate Central From Peripheral Causes of Vertigo? Annals of Emergency Medicine. 64(3):265-268. 2014. 
  9. Edlow JA. Diagnosing Dizziness: We Are Teaching the Wrong Paradigm!. Acad Emerg Med. 20(10):1064-1066. 2013.
  10. Newman-Toker DE, Cannon LM, Stofferahn ME, Rothman RE, Hsieh YH, Zee DS. Imprecision in patient reports of dizziness symptom quality: a cross-sectional study conducted in an acute care setting. Mayo Clinic proceedings. 82(11):1329-40. 2007.
  11. Strupp M, Zingler VC, Arbusow V et al. Methylprednisolone, Valacyclovir, or the Combination for Vestibular Neuritis. N Engl J Med. 351(4):354-361. 2004. 
  12. CFishman JM, Burgess C, Waddell A. Corticosteroids for the treatment of idiopathic acute vestibular dysfunction (vestibular neuritis). The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2011. 

Episode 39 – Likelihood Ratios

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The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

We cover Dr. Rory Spiegel’s blog EMNERD, covering an article in Chest 2015 by Pivetta et al, discussing the ways lung ultrasound (US) may be far more helpful than the brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) in determining heart failure in the dyspneic patient.  

  • BNP: + LR 2, – LR 0.2
  • Lung US: + LR 22, – LR 0.03

Core Content – Likelihood Ratios

Likelihood Ratios can help us use diagnostic maneuvers to determine whether a patient has a disease process.  The calculations (as promised on the podcast):

  • + LR = Sensitivity/(1-Specificity)
  • -LR = 1- Sensitivity/(Specificity)

Interpreting LRs really involves only 3 numbers: 1, 10, 0.1. 

The utility of likelihood ratios also depends on our pre-test probability. This is essentially our assessment of a patient. Pretend that a patient comes in and states she’s 18 weeks pregnant and she has an intrauterine pregnancy on bedside ultrasound with a fetal heart rate of 150. Your pretest probability that this patient is pregnant is 100%. As such, no test will really be able to move that needle. Similarly, a male comes in with abdominal pain and a normal genital exam.  What’s your pre-test probability that the patient is pregnant? Somewhere around 0%. Again, a test will not help you here, regardless of the LR of a pregnancy test.  Another 28 year old female patient may come in with abdominal pain and last menstrual cycle 3 weeks ago. What’s your pretest probability that she’s pregnant? Probably in that uncertain but possible range – 20-50%. Here, a test may be useful if it has a good LR.  If the +LR of the HCG is high the patient is very likely pregnant and, conversely a low -LR meaning that if the test is negative, the patient is nearly certainly not pregnant.

LR near 1 is useless.  Using the Fagan nomogram, one can see that if the pre-test probability is in the “I’m not sure range”, a LR near 1 moves the needle slightly up but to the “I’m still not sure range.”  This means that the diagnostic test will not be much help in our post-test probability.

LRs near 1 are useless

-LRs are helpful once they’re in the 0.1 range.  Using this nomogram we can see that in a patient that we’re not sure about, a test with a -LR of 0.1 can reduce the likelihood that the patient has the disease in question to the low single digits (whether or not that’s enough depends on the disease process in question).

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 10.35.38 AM

-LRs of 0.1 and below are very useful

+ LRs near 10 are very useful as, if the test is positive, the patient likely has the disease. In a patient that one says “maybe they have X disease?”, a pre-test probability of say, 40%, a positive test with a +LR of 10 means that there’s a 90-something percent probability that the patient does have the disease. We can be much more certain.

 

+LR of 10 very useful

+LRs from 0 to 5 are not very useful. They may shift the probability from a pre-test probability of “maybe?” to a post-test probability of “maybe.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 6.09.26 AM

 -LRs from 1 to 0.2 are not very useful. They may shift the post-test probability slightly but not much.

+LR 0-5 and -LR 1-0.2 with minimal utility

+LR 0-5 and -LR 1-0.2 with minimal utility

More resources:

Deeks JJ. Diagnostic tests 4: likelihood ratios. BMJ. 329(7458):168-169. 2004. [article]

BoringEM on Likelihood Ratios.

Episode 35 – The Trachea

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The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

Jane Brody wrote an article, “What Comes After the Heimlich Maneuver” that ran in the NY Times and stirred up a ruckus on Twitter. This is a reasonable article on choking and details the limitations of the Heimlich maneuver.  Unfortunately, the article ends  instructing the layperson do to a cricothyrotomy (cric) with a sharp knife and “something like a straw or casing of a ballpoint pen (first remove the ink cartridge).  “

Dr. Seth Trueger (@MDaware) wrote a post, Bad Idea Jeans, discouraging this practice saying that deciding which patient needs a cric is one of the more difficult but more important parts of this procedure.

On another note, our friend Dr. Andy Neill has found that medical students are able to perform crics with Papermate pens on cadavers [1]. However, it appears that most pens may not be suitable [2]. Further, while medical students are nearly lay people, we do not think this the cric should be within the domain of lay people (especially without patients already declared dead and preserved).

Cricothyrotomies – In reality, this is a bloody procedures that should only be done by those with proper training when the airway cannot be otherwise secured. The actual procedure has been detailed by those far smarter and with more experience than the FOAMcast crew. We recommend checking out Dr. Scott Weingart’s compilation of resources here.

The anatomy of a cricothyrotomy by Dr. Andy Neill

Core Content – Tracheostomy Emergencies and Neck Infections

Tintinalli (7e) Chapters 242, 119

Tracheostomy (trach) (we refer to tracheostomy and tracheotomy interchangeably although there are some technical differences)

Anatomy of the trach tube (may vary)

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 8.40.17 AM

Things we have to know about trach emergencies

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 7.43.30 AM

Pediatric Trachea (Stridor) Pearls

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 8.20.11 AM

Generously Donated Rosh Review Questions 

Question 1. A 72-year-old man who is 1 week out from an ischemic stroke presents with respiratory distress. He had a tracheostomy placed 6 days ago for sudden respiratory failure. The patient is hypoxic and tachypneic on presentation with minimal breath sounds bilaterally. There is no subcutaneous air around the stoma.

Question 2A 3-year-old boy presents in severe respiratory distress. His mother informs you that he has been ill for the last 5 days, initially with a low-grade fever and “barky cough.”  He was seen at an urgent care facility 4 days ago and given a  “breathing treatment” and discharged on steroids. He has become progressively worse despite compliance with the steroid regimen, which prompted his mother to call an ambulance this morning. He is otherwise healthy and up-to-date on his immunizations. On examination, the child is toxic in appearance and febrile. His oropharynx is clear. You hear both inspiratory and expiratory stridor.  

Answers

1.The patient’s presentation is concerning for airway obstruction and the first step in management is suctioning of the tracheostomy tube. Tracheostomy tubes are placed for long-term mechanical ventilation in patients with anticipated prolonged or permanent respiratory failure. The two most common complications are obstruction and dislodgement. Sudden onset of respiratory failure often indicates mucous plugging or equipment failure. Suctioning of the tracheostomy is a simple procedure that may quickly relieve the patient’s symptoms. 2 to 3 ml of normal saline should be instilled into the tube followed by suctioning. Patients with slower decline in respiratory status may have a worsening of their underlying pulmonary pathology or may have developed a pulmonary infection.  A cricothyrotomy (A) will not lead to effective oxygenation or ventilation as the cricothyroid membrane is above the tracheostomy site. The tracheostomy tube should not be removed and replaced with either an endotracheal tube (C) or a new tracheostomy tube (B) at this time because the tracheostomy tract has not matured at 6 days (this usually occurs at 15-30 days). If equipment failure in the form of a tracheostomy tube malfunction is suspected, the tube should be replaced with fiberoptic visualization to ensure that a false lumen isn’t created.

2.The patient is suffering from acute bacterial tracheitis. Bacterial tracheitis is the result of severe inflammation of the epithelial lining of the trachea leading to thick mucopurulent secretion production. This clinically manifests as viral prodrome with fever, URI symptoms, barky cough and stridor that intensifies and progresses to include a toxic appearing child with signs of airway obstruction, inspiratory and expiratory stridor, cyanosis, and severe respiratory distress. Another clue is that the child has been treated with medications (aerosolized epinephrine and steroids) for croup and has not improved clinically. Bacterial tracheitis is most common in children between the ages of 3 to 5 years. Most patients require orotracheal intubation for respiratory distress and ICU admission. The patient should be started on broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics. Croup (B) is the most common cause of upper airway distress and obstruction in children between 6 months to 6 years of age with peak incidence at 2 years of age. Croup begins as a prodrome of low-grade fever and URI symptoms and is characterized by a barky cough, inspiratory stridor, and hoarse voice. Children are less toxic in appearance and rarely develop respiratory failure. The mainstays of treatment are steroids and aerosolized epinephrine. Epiglottitis (C) is characterized by abrupt onset of fever and sore throat and children classically present with difficulty in breathing, anxiety, stridor and drooling. This is less common in vaccinated children, such as the patient above and typically occurs in slightly older children. There is generally not a prodrome associated with epiglottitis. Peritonsillar abscess (D) occurs more commonly during adolescence and presents with trismus, unilateral sore throat, fever, tonsillar asymmetry, and uvula deviation away from the affected tonsil. The age of this patient and normal oropharynx examination make this diagnosis very unlikely.

References:

  1. Neill A, Anderson P. Observational cadaveric study of emergency bystander cricothyroidotomy with a ballpoint pen by untrained junior doctors and medical students. Emergency medicine journal : EMJ. 30(4):308-11. 2013. [pubmed]
  2. Owens D, Greenwood B, Galley A, Tomkinson A, Woolley S. Airflow efficacy of ballpoint pen tubes: a consideration for use in bystander cricothyrotomy. Emergency medicine journal : EMJ. 27(4):317-20. 2010. [pubmed]

Episode 33 – Hemoptysis

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The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

Dr. Ryan Radecki of Emergency Medicine Literature of Note reviews Gestational Age D-Dimers covering an article by Murphy and colleagues in BJOG.  

The paper: The authors took blood samples from 760 healthy pregnant patients at one point during their pregnancy. They propose a continuous increase for a normal d-dimer cut off throughout gestation.

  • 1-12 weeks:    n=33, 81% with normal d-dimer
  • 19-21 weeks:  n=53, 32% with normal d-dimer
  • 28-36 weeks: n=8, 6% with normal d-dimer
  • 39-40 weeks: 0, 0% normal d-dimer
  • Postpartum day 2: n=12, 8% with normal d-dimer

Dr. Radecki’s “Take Home:

  • Dr. Kline has advocated for the following d-dimer cut offs in pregnancy: 1st trimester 750 ng/mL, 2nd trimester 1000 ng/mL, and 3rd trimester 1250 ng/mL(based on a standard cut-off of 500 ng/mL) and this may be reasonable but is not rooted in robust evidence.

Interestingly, this post was followed by another post covering an article by Hutchinson et al from Am J Roentgenol showing that of 174 CTPAs initially read as positive, 45 were read as negative by chest radiologist upon blinded retrospective review.  That means 25.9% of this cohort diagnosed with PE apparently had negative CT scans.

Core Content – Hemoptysis

Tintinalli (7e) Chapter 66;  Rosen’s Emergency Medicine (8e) Chapter 24

Etiology: Most common causes are bronchitis (often blood tinged sputum), infection (abscess, pneumonia, tuberculosis), neoplasm (lung cancer).  Other causes include iatrogenic causes (bronchoscopy, biopsy, aspirated foreign body), anticoagulation, and autoimmune diseases such as granulomatous polyangiitis (Wegener’s), lupus, and Goodpasture’s.

Workup:

Hemoptysis Workup

Generously Donated Rosh Review Questions 

Question 1. A 50-year-old man, nonsmoker, presents to the ED with a 2-day history of cough now associated with frank hemoptysis. He denies any constitutional symptoms. Vital signs are BP 125/70, HR 80, RR 16, and pulse oximetry is 98% on room air. On exam, his lung fields are clear; the remainder of the exam is unremarkable. A chest radiograph is performed, which is normal. 

Question 2. A 55-year-old man, smoker, presents to the ED with hemoptysis and dyspnea for 4 weeks. His VS are T 37°C, BP 146/76 mm Hg, HR 85 bpm, RR 20 per minute, and oxygen saturation 96% on RA. His lung exam reveals distant breath sounds on the left side. His chest X-ray is shown below. 

Rosh Review

Rosh Review

Answers

1.C. The patient is hemodynamically stable with a normal chest radiograph, so he does not require ICU admission (A). Patients with massive hemoptysis require ICU admission. The decision to perform a bronchoscopy (B) in this patient will be left up to the pulmonologist. Given the overall clinical picture, urgent bronchoscopy is not required in this case. With massive hemoptysis, an emergent bronchoscopy is indicated. Bronchitis (D) typically presents with the abrupt onset of cough with blood-streaked purulent sputum. The patient in the clinical scenario has persistent frank hemoptysis, which mandates further investigation. In a patient who does not smoke, is under the age of 40, and has a normal chest radiograph and scant hemoptysis, treatment for bronchitis can be initiated with outpatient follow-up.

2. B. Although bronchitis (A) is the most common cause of hemoptysis (responsible for 15%-30% of cases), patients present with cough as the dominant symptom and have abnormal lung exams and normal chest x-rays. The cough may be productive of sputum. The diagnosis of pneumonia (C) requires focal findings on physical exam or infiltrates on radiographic imaging and is typically accompanied by a fever. Patients with lung cancer are at increased risk for pulmonary embolism (D). This patient’s Wells score is 2 (one point each for hemoptysis and malignancy), which makes the likelihood of PE 16% in an ED population. Given the lung mass seen on chest x-ray, lung cancer is more likely than PE.

References:

Episode 32 – Appendicitis

(ITUNES OR Listen Here)

The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

This week we cover a post from Dr. Rory Spiegel, author of EMnerd, on initial nonoperative management of acute appendicitis based on an article by Salminen et al in JAMA 2015.

  • 530 patients with CT confirmed acute, uncomplicated appendicitis were randomized to operative intervention (n=273 receiving open laparotomies) or non-operative intervention (n=257 receiving antibiotics).
  • 27.3% (n=70, CI 22-33.2%) of patients who received medical management (ertapenem x 3 days then 5 days of levofloxacin) had an appendectomy by the 1 year mark
    • 7 patients (2.7%) in medical management group had complicated appendicitis at one year, 0 had abscesses
    • 45 patients (20.5%) in the operative group had surgical complications

This is a non-inferiority study where the intent  is to demonstrate that an experimental treatment (antibiotics alone) is not substantially worse than a control treatment (immediate surgery). The authors set the non-inferiority margin at 24%, which means that a failure rate (appendectomy by 1 year) >24% would render medical management inferior.

Authors Conclusion: “Among patients with CT-proven, uncomplicated appendicitis, antibiotic treatment did not meet the prespecified criterion for noninferiority compared with appendectomy.”

Spiegel’s Conclusion: “there is a great deal to be determined before this non-invasive strategy can be considered mainstream practice…in what was once considered an exclusively surgical disease, the majority of patients can effectively be managed conservatively. Despite not meeting their own high standards for non-inferiority, the authors demonstrated that for most patients with acute appendicitis, when treated conservatively with antibiotics we can avoid surgical intervention without complications of delays to definitive care.”

More FOAM on non-operative treatment of appendicitis: The SGEM

Core Content
Tintinalli (7e) Chapters 84, 124;  Rosen’s Emergency Medicine (8e) Chapter 93

Appendicitis

Diagnosis:

Diagnosing Acute Appendicitis

Diagnosing Acute Appendicitis

Use of contrast enhanced CT scans controversial.  Rosenalli and the American College of radiology concur that oral contrast is probably not needed but does increase the emergency department length of stay [3-5].

Treatment:

  • Surgical consult
  • Antibiotics:
    • Broad spectrum beta-lactams: ampicillin-sulbactam 3g IV (75 mg/kg IV in peds)  piperacillin-tazobactam 4.5g IV, cefoxitin 2g IV (40 mg/kg IV in peds)  OR metronidazole 500 mg IV + ciprofloxacin 400 mg IV

Other things to consider in special populations in right lower quadrant:

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and Tubo-Ovarian Abscess in women

  • Symptoms: vaginal discharge, adnexal or uterine tenderness, lower abdominal pain, cervical motion tenderness, fever
  • Cause: chlamydia and neisseria gonorrhoea most commonly
  • Treatment: ceftriaxone 250 mg IM + doxycycline 100 mg BID x 14 days

Typhlitis (neutropenic enterocolitis) –

  • Symptoms: crampy abdominal pain (often RLQ), abdominal distension, fever, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea
  • Diagnosis: CT scan
  • Treatment: NPO, IV fluids, broad spectrum antibiotics (piperacillin-tazobactam, meropenem, metronidazole) + surgical consult if needed
  • Complications: perforation, gastrointestinal bleeding, sepsis

Generously Donated Rosh Review Questions 

1. A 22-year-old man presents with abdominal pain followed by vomiting for 1 day. His examination is significant for right lower quadrant tenderness to palpation. He has a negative Rovsing sign. 

2. A 22-year-old woman presents with lower abdominal pain and vaginal discharge. She is sexually active with men with inconsistent barrier protection. Her vitals are normal other than temperature of 101°F. On examination, there is yellow cervical discharge, no cervical motion tenderness, but uterine and left adnexal tenderness. An ultrasound does not show any evidence of tubo-ovarian abscess. 

Answers.

1. B. Sensitivity or the true positive rate measures the proportion of actual positives that are correctly identified as such. It is determined by dividing the number of true positives of the test by the number of true positives + false negatives. Tests with a high sensitivity are good for ruling out disease as the test has very few false negatives. A test with high sensitivity is advantageous as a screening tool as it misses very few people with the disease. The onset of pain before vomiting has been found to be as high as 100% sensitive in diagnosing acute appendicitis.Rovsing’s sign (D) (indirect tenderness) describes pain felt in the right lower quadrant upon palpation of the left lower quadrant. This sign signifies the presence of peritoneal irritation and has a sensitivity of 58%. Right lower quadrant pain (C) has a sensitivity of 81% and fever (A) has a sensitivity of 67%.

2.This patient presents with signs and symptoms consistent with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and should be treated with ceftriaxone 250 mg IM and 2 weeks of doxycycline. PID is an ascending infection beginning in the cervix and vagina and ascending to the upper genital tract. Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis are most commonly implicated. It can present with a myriad of symptoms although lower abdominal pain is the most common. Other symptoms include fever, cervical or vaginal discharge and dyspareunia. Pelvic examination reveals cervical motion tenderness (CMT), adnexal tenderness and vaginal or cervical discharge. Inadequately treated PID can lead to tubo-ovarian abscess, chronic dyspareunia and infertility. Due to the variable presentation and serious sequelae, the CDC recommends empiric treatment of all sexually active women who present with pelvic or abdominal pain and have any one of the following: 1) CMT, 2) adnexal tenderness or 3) uterine tenderness. Treatment should cover the most common organisms and typically consists of a third generation cephalosporin (ceftriaxone) and a prolonged course of doxycycline. Patients with systemic manifestations or difficulty tolerating PO should be admitted for management.Ceftriaxone and azithromycin (A) are used in the treatment of cervicitis or urethritis. Clindamycin (C) and metronidazole (D) are used in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.
References:

1.Salminen P, Paajanen H, Rautio T, et al. Antibiotic Therapy vs Appendectomy for Treatment of Uncomplicated Acute Appendicitis: The APPAC Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2015;313(23):2340

2. Horst JA, Trehan I, Warner BW et al. Can Children With Uncomplicated Acute Appendicitis Be Treated With Antibiotics Instead of an Appendectomy? Ann Emerg Med. 2015;66:(2)119-22

3.”Acute Appendicitis.” Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide.  7th ed. pp 574-581.

4. “Acute Appendicitis” Rosen’s Emergency Medicine. 8th ed. pp. 1225-1232.e2

5. ACR Appropriateness Criteria.  American College of Radiology. 2013.

6. Cohen B, Bowling J, Midulla P, et al. The non-diagnostic ultrasound in appendicitis: is a non-visualized appendix the same as a negative study? J Pediatr Surg. 2015;50:(6)923-7

7. Ashdown HF, D’Souza N, Karim D, Stevens RJ, Huang A, Harnden A. Pain over speed bumps in diagnosis of acute appendicitis: diagnostic accuracy study. BMJ. 2012;345:e8012.

8. Bundy DG, Byerley JS, Liles EA. Does This Child Have Appendicitis? 2009;298(4):438–451.

Episode 31 – Vasopressors

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The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

This week we cover posts from the Wessex ICS site, The Bottom Line, which is an excellent source for breakdown of recent and important trials. This site is great for reviews of high impact trials in critical care. We cover their post on a systematic review of peripheral pressor complications and then we delve into a recent prospective trial by Cardenas-Garcia and colleagues that came up at SMACC.

The Bottom Line on the Loubani paper

  • Systematic review of the literature 1946-Jan 2014 (does not include most recent trial)
  • Outcome – local tissue injury or extravasation: 325 separate events, 318/325 peripheral pressors
    • Signal that distal lines are not ideal for running pressors: 204 events (local tissue injury) were distal to the antecubital fossa/popliteal fossa (90% of events)
    • Signal that duration of pressors running peripherally may impact likelihood of adverse event. Increasing number of events were reported at the 6-12 hour mark (n=9) then 12-24 hour (n=18) and then almost all >24 hour

The Cardenas-Garcia Paper

  • Single arm consecutive study of ICU patients
  • ICU fellows and attendings determined if peripheral pressors were warranted and then initiated the following protocol:
    • Vein diameter >4 mm measured with ultrasonography and PIV confirmed with US before pressors started
    • Upper extremity only, contralateral to the blood pressure cuff
    • IV size 20 gauge or 18 gauge
    • No hand, wrist, or antecubital fossa PIV access position
    • Blood return from the PIV access prior to VM administration
    • Assessment of PIV access function q 2h as per nursing protocol
    • Immediate alert by nursing staff to the medical team if line extravasation, with prompt initiation of local treatment
    • 72 hours maximum duration of PIV access use
  • N=734 patients
  • 19/783 peripheral vasopressor administrations with infiltration of site (2%) with no events of local tissue injury

The take home: If a patient needs vasopressors, you can start them through a good, proximal peripheral IV.  Sometimes patient or situation factors delay central lines, this doesn’t mean it needs to delay patient’s therapy.  Know what to do in the event of infiltration (see this EMCrit post).

Core Content
Tintinalli (7e) Chapter 24

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Panchal et al – Phenylephrine bolus dosing in peri-intubation period

Central line technique from Dr. Reuben Strayer – Wire through catheter vs wire through needle

Generously Donated Rosh Review Questions 

1.

Answer. C. Norepinephrine is considered the vasopressor of choice for treatment of septic shock.   Norepinephrine acts primarily as an α-adrenergic agonist, causing vasoconstriction that results in an increase in blood pressure. It also has β-adrenergic properties, which causes an increase in cardiac output and heart rate. The combination of α-adrenergic and β-adrenergic properties benefits patients who have septic shock. Norepinephrine also has a short duration of action, which allows for rapid adjustment of dosing in response to changes in a patient’s hemodynamic status. Dopamine (A) was once widely used in the treatment of septic shock, but studies have shown that it has no advantage over norepinephrine and its use is associated with a higher death rate. Epinephrine (B) has both α-adrenergic and β-adrenergic properties and has a greater affinity for alpha- and beta-receptors than norepinephrine. Its use is associated with a higher rate of cardiac dysrhythmias and a decrease in splanchnic blood flow. Phenylephrine (D) is a pure α-adrenergic agent that causes vasoconstriction and impairment of tissue blood flow throughout the body, most notably in the splanchnic circulation.