A 63-year-old male presents for acute onset of headache, neck pain, and altered mental status. He has a prior history of hypertension and hyperlipidemia but recently lost his insurance and has been unable to fill his medications. As a well-informed 2nd year resident, you suspect the presence of a ruptured subarachnoid hemorrhage and arrange an expedited trip to the CT scanner. The patient’s blood pressure continues to remain elevated and you initiate an antihypertensive drip. You decide that in order to have accurate titration, you need more reliable data and decide to place a radial arterial line. However, the last two arterial lines you placed did not go according to plan! Before you start the procedure, you decide to review the procedure and some common pitfalls in placing radial arterial lines. You remember your attendings telling you during prior attempts to do things a certain way and you want to incorporate these in your practice.
A 25-year-old medical student comes in with a muffled voice, sore throat and trismus. You look at the back of her throat and you see the uvula deviated to the right. You astutely diagnosed a peritonsillar abscess (PTA). You consider aspirating and want to check for tips on how to successfully do this.
Dr. Michelle Lin and Dr. Demian Szyld have created great guides for the common and important emergency medicine procedure of draining a PTA (laryngoscope lighting and spinal needle for aspiration; ultrasound localization and spinal needle guard; avoiding awkward one-handed needle aspiration). This update reviews these tricks as well as some additional techniques for optimal success in draining a PTA, while avoiding the ultimate feared complication of puncturing the carotid artery.
Cricothyroidotomy is an emergency life-saving procedure that involves surgical placement of a tube through the cricothyroid membrane in order to establish a patent airway for oxygenation and ventilation. The indications for this procedure are when traditional means, such as orotracheal or nasotracheal intubation, are contraindicated or have failed during attempts to establish an emergency airway.1,2 It is a critical skill for emergency physicians but the declining rate of this procedure has resulted in decreased exposure during training.3,4