We commonly see patients who have some form of blunt chest trauma. This is the result of motor vehicle collisions, falls, and a myriad of other traumatic events. The decision to perform thoracic imaging can be difficult. Chest xray (CXR) and/or chest CT? In fact, studies have shown that emergency and trauma physicians often disagree 28-40.9% of the time about which patients require a chest CT following blunt trauma. 1,2
The pendulum has swung one way with CT for trauma, but has it gone too far? Liberal use of CT raises concerns over resource utilization, cost, and the consequences of radiation exposure [1,2]. No-one can seem to agree, including trauma surgeons, on guidelines for a more selective use of imaging studies [3-6].
“CT pan scan” is the term, source unclear, which describes the whole body CT (WBCT) imaging strategy used in blunt trauma management. It consists of the following CT studies:
A 6-year-old male is brought to the emergency department (ED) after falling from the monkey bars at a local playground. Physical examination reveals no scalp hematoma, and the child appears alert and well oriented. You decide to observe him over the next 30 minutes hours to determine if he develops any disconcerting symptoms. After 15 minutes of observation within the ED the patient has an episode of vomiting witnessed by the nurses. The patient’s mother wants to know if this means he has failed his observation period and needs to receive a head CT. Your answer? (more…)
You see a patient with a large V-shaped laceration under tension requiring suture repair. Resist the temptation to simply pull the edges together and close the laceration with simple interrupted or running sutures. Excessive tension on a flap edge during the healing process can compromise its blood supply. This causes ischemia to the healing tissue, which in turn makes that flap edge more likely to dehisce, necrose, and become infected.
Patients with fingertip injuries involving the nail bed typically present to the emergency department and require meticulous repair of the nail bed to prevent long-term cosmetic and functional disability. There are several methods to repair nail beds, typically involving absorbable suture, but maybe there is a faster way with similar cosmetic and functional outcomes.(more…)
Trying to suture or staple a scalp laceration is oftentimes a hairy proposition for emergency physicians who repair these types of wounds regularly. Although the “hair apposition technique” method is one option, if one opts for sutures or staples, the most difficult part of the procedure is trying to avoid trapping hair strands within the wound, which may cause wound dehiscense, a foreign body reaction, or a local infection.
A 55 year old woman presents as the driver of a motor vehicle collision. She has moderate abdominal tenderness diffusely and a seat belt sign, but has a negative abdominal/pelvis CT. Her INR, however, was noted to be 2.1. She is not on any vitamin K antagonists. The surgeons admit her to the hospital to observe for a potential hollow viscus injury and requests that you order 2 units of FFP for her. Seems reasonable… or is it? What is the logic?