About Jacob Avila, MD RDMS

Clinical instructor and Ultrasound fellow
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Kentucky

Trick of the Trade: Ear Irrigation in the Emergency Department

Ear pediatricEar irrigation is an important tool for adult and pediatric patients in the Emergency Department (ED) with ENT complaints. Irrigation can be used to clear ear cerumen, visualize tough-to-see tympanic membranes, and remove foreign bodies. This may reduce the need for subspecialist care and improve the patient’s hearing and quality of life.1 Commercial electronic and mechanical devices are available for irrigation and have been studied. Moulton and Jones presented the improved efficacy of foreign body removal using an electric ear syringe in an (ED) population.2 In this trick of the trade, we present a low cost and effective way of  “ear-rigation” taught to us by one of our veteran nurses using easily available tools in the ED.

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Trick of the Trade: Squeeze test for confirmation of IO placement

IO needlesVenipuncture is the most common invasive procedure performed in the emergency department 1 , likely due to the fact that the vast majority of our laboratory evaluations require blood and many of our life saving interventions require access to the patient’s systemic circulation. Most of the time emergency department staff are able to perform this procedure easily, but occasionally you find that your patient is the dreaded “difficult stick”. Literature suggests that the landmark technique is successful on the initial venipuncture 74-77% of the time. 2–5  Success rates rise after multiple attempts, but what happens when you don’t have the luxury of time? What happens when your patient will die if you don’t get life saving medications into their circulation promptly?  There are a few options when you can’t get IV access through traditional means, among them external jugular vein cannulation, central line, ultrasound-guided IV, and the intraosseous lines (IO).6 However, when managing the crashing patient, a wise decision is to use the quickest option, which is often the IO.

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Trick of the Trade: DIY Finger Traps

Fx_RadiusUlnaPadding copyDistal radius fractures are among the most commonly encountered fractures in the emergency department (ED). They have been reported to account for around 25% of pediatric fractures and up to 18% of fractures in the elderly.1 Reducing minimally displaced distal radius fractures is a procedure that can be greatly facilitated by the presence of finger traps, which help hold traction while you reduce the fracture.2 Often While working in small 5-bed, free-standing emergency department (ED), I found myself needing to perform this vital procedure and finger traps were unavailable.

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2016-11-11T19:37:19-08:00

Small bowel obstruction: Diagnosis by ultrasonography

SBOuprightA 64 year old man with an extensive history of abdominal surgeries presents to the emergency department with abdominal pain and vomiting. Because you suspect a bowel obstruction, you bring an ultrasound machine to the bedside prior to the completion of any laboratory testing or other imaging. A curvilinear probe in the abdominal mode setting was used to scan in all four quadrants of the abdomen looking in both the sagittal and transverse planes.

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