SAEM Clinical Image Series: A Young Woman with Chest Pain

ECG

A 35-year-old female with a history of intermittent palpitations who is three months post-partum presented to the emergency department (ED) with three days of sharp, substernal chest pain radiating down her left arm. She reportedly had a normal electrocardiogram (ECG) at an outside hospital on the first day of symptoms. The pain returned and was associated with one episode of vomiting the night prior to presenting to our ED. Initial ECG on arrival is shown.

Vitals: Tachycardic; afebrile; normotensive; no tachypnea or hypoxemia on room air

General: Mild distress, appears uncomfortable

Cardiovascular: Tachycardic to 100s, regular rhythm, no murmur, normal peripheral perfusion, no edema

Pulmonary: Lungs clear to auscultation, no respiratory distress

Neuro: Alert and oriented, neurologically intact

Complete blood count (CBC) and basic metabolic panel (BMP): unremarkable

Partial thromboplastin time (PTT) and international normalized ratio (INR): normal

Troponin: 42

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD).

The patient underwent emergent coronary angiography demonstrating multivessel coronary dissection including a distal left anterior descending (LAD) hematoma with lumen compression as well as obtuse marginal (OM1) and posterior descending artery (PDA) lesions consistent with spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). She was admitted to the intensive care unit on a heparin drip, had decreasing troponin levels, and ultimately was discharged home on enalapril, metoprolol, aspirin, and clopidogrel.

SCAD is a rare but important diagnosis in the ED as it conveys serious morbidity and mortality risk. Patients present with chest pain, dyspnea, diaphoresis, and potentially signs or symptoms of heart failure from severe ischemia. Most patients are women under the age of 50, and many are pregnant, postpartum, or taking oral contraceptives. This may be mistaken for other diagnoses on presentation, such as ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, which usually presents in post-menopausal patients, but SCAD differs in its typical patient population. Wall motion abnormalities on an echocardiogram are present, but there are not always signs of heart failure as in post-partum cardiomyopathy. Patients are often taken for urgent coronary angioplasty, though in cases with marked ischemia or hemodynamic instability, emergent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) may be indicated. Recurrence is common; patients should be counseled on mitigating cardiovascular risk factors, particularly smoking and hypertension, and to be cautious with intense exertion and future pregnancies.

Take-Home Points

  • ECG typically shows ST elevation in the leads of the dissecting artery or arteries. Important risk factors include oral contraceptive use, being pregnant or postpartum, and fibromuscular dysplasia.
  • ED management includes aspirin, heparin, and immediate cardiology consultation, as a definitive diagnosis will be made in the cath lab.

  • Yip A, Saw J. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection-A review. Cardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2015 Feb;5(1):37-48. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2223-3652.2015.01.08. PMID: 25774346; PMCID: PMC4329168.
  • Macaya F, Salinas P, Gonzalo N, Fernández-Ortiz A, Macaya C, Escaned J. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: contemporary aspects of diagnosis and patient management. Open Heart. 2018 Nov 5;5(2):e000884. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2018-000884. PMID: 30487978; PMCID: PMC6241978.

 

By |2021-10-26T20:58:04-07:00Nov 1, 2021|Cardiovascular, ECG, SAEM Clinical Images|

Trick of Trade: Large-Bore Endotracheal Tube To Suction the Occluded Airway

vomit suction emesis pumpkin

The paramedics just arrived with a new patient to the resuscitation room. You find an altered patient actively vomiting bloody vomitus and food particles. You prepare for a difficult airway. You prepare 2 Yankauer suction catheters, but you are still worried that the food particles may clog up the catheters. Is there a better alternative?

Background

Up to 44% of emergent intubations are complicated by blood, vomit, or food particles in the airway. It has been shown that contaminated airways may lead to multiple intubation attempts and are associated with poor outcomes, such as peri-intubation cardiac arrest [1, 2].

The Yankauer suction catheter is the most commonly available tool in the Emergency Department to remove foreign particles, but performs poorly when compared to larger-bore catheters [3]. The Yankauer was made initially for surgical field management, with small holes at the tip to gently remove (or become clogged with) debris without damaging tissue. Some standard Yankauer designs have a built-in safety vent hole on the shaft, which if unoccluded, renders the device virtually useless [2]. This protective equipment design does not offer maximum help during emergent large-volume regurgitation dirty airway management.

Alternatively, there is the DuCanto suction catheter. It is a specialized and more expensive large-bore version of the Yankauer; however, it is not as readily available and more expensive [1].

Trick of the Trade: Use a large-bore endotracheal tube as a rigid suction catheter

A large-bore, such as a size 10.0, endotracheal tube can serve as a rigid suction catheter. Note the diameter sizes of the Yankauer, DuCanto, and 10.0 endotracheal tube below.

Suction devices (inner diameter):
Yankauer (3.56 mm), DuCanto (6.6 mm), 10.0 endotracheal tube (10 mm)
  • Materials needed
    1. Size 10.0 endotracheal tube (or the largest size you have)
    2. Suction tubing and canister
  • Making the device
    1. Insert the rubber end of the suction tubing over the plastic endotracheal tube adaptor
    2. Attach suction tubing to the canister
    3. Turn suction on

Video Demonstration: Yankauer vs Large-Bore Endotracheal Tube

Editorial Note: If the rigidity of the catheter is less important, you can also insert the soft suction tubing directly into the airway to remove contents.

Read other Tricks of the Trade posts on ALiEM.

References:

  1. Nikolla DA, Heslin A, King B, Carlson JN. Comparison of suction rates between a standard Yankauer and make-shift large bore suction catheters using a meconium aspirator and various sized endotracheal tubes. J Clin Anesth. 2021 Sep;72:110262. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2021.110262. PMID 33839435
  2. Hasegawa K, Shigemitsu K, Hagiwara Y, et al. Association between repeated intubation attempts and adverse events in emergency departments: an analysis of a multicenter prospective observational study. Ann Emerg Med. 2012;60(6):749-754.e2. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.04.005. PMID 22542734
  3. Andreae MC, Cox RD, Shy BD, et al. 319 Yankauer Outperformed by Alternative Suction Devices in Evacuation of Simulated Emesis.” Ann Emerg Med. 68(4), S123 [research abstract] doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.08.335
By |2021-10-29T19:15:35-07:00Oct 31, 2021|Critical Care/ Resus, Tricks of the Trade|

Trick of the Trade: Persistent Paracentesis Leakage 2.0

Paracentesis leakage

You’re seeing a patient returning to the ED after a recent diagnostic paracentesis. The patient is complaining of persistent peritoneal fluid leakage. They’ve tried putting pressure with no success. You tried applying a medical adhesive glue and noticed it was unsuccessful, based on the patient’s gown continuing to get wet with ascites fluid. Now what?

Trick of the Trade: Pressure Gauze and Transparent Film Dressing  

The medical adhesive glue trick was proposed in the Trick of the Trade 1.0 version by Dr. Borloz and Dr. Lin in November 2012. 

Materials Needed

MaterialQuantity
Benzoin tincture1
Gauze 2″ x 2″1-2
Transparent Film Dressing (Tegaderm) 2.5″ x 2.75″3-4

Technique

1. Apply benzoin tincture surrounding the area of the leakage.
gauze ball in hand
2. Use a 2″ x 2″ gauze and roll it into a tight round ball. Hold the gauze with firm pressure over the leak (it is easier if you have the patient or an assistant holding it in place while you move on to the next step).
4. Stretch the transparent film dressing before placing it over the center of the gauze
4. Continue to hold firm pressure on the gauze from over thetransparent film dressing. Note that you are not yet touching the dressing against the skin.
5. Stretch outtransparent film dressing and affix to the patient’s skin.
6. Once you apply the initial transparent film dressing, you can apply 2-3 more over the top, in the same fashion, to increase the pressure on and security of the dressing. Patients may be discharged with this dressing in place for 24-48 hours.

Pro Tip

Consider combining both this trick of the trade and the adhesive glue technique. Hat tip to Dr. Christian Rose [Twitter @RoseLikeTheFlwr] for this idea. 

Interested in other Tricks of the Trade posts?

Read the series of Tricks of the Trade posts.

By |2021-10-15T12:48:11-07:00Oct 20, 2021|Gastrointestinal, Tricks of the Trade|

SAEM Clinical Image Series: A Rapidly Spreading Rash

spreading rash

A 40-year-old male with a past medical history of HIV presented for evaluation of a non-pruritic rash. Six days ago, he suddenly felt a stinging sensation at the back of his head and neck similar to a bug bite. He then noticed bumps were starting to form and developed a shock-like pain in the area. Three days ago, the rash spread from the back of his head towards his chest. Yesterday, the rash spread further and now extends medially and upwards covering most of his left neck and ear. The pain continued to worsen, at which point the patient shaved the left side of his head in an attempt to help the rash. Today, the pain became unbearable, which prompted his visit to the emergency department for further evaluation and management.

Head: Normocephalic, atraumatic; left side of patient’s head is shaved.

Eye: Pupils equal, round, reactive to light; extraocular movements intact; no corneal ulcers or dendritic lesions with fluorescein staining.

Visual acuities: Right 20/25, left 20/25, baseline 20/25

Ear, nose, throat: Mucous membranes are dry; oral thrush and tonsillar erythema appreciated; localized erythema, crusting and blistering rash of varying sizes and ages along with the outer ear including the tragus, antihelix, and antitragus; helix mildly swollen. On otoscopy, the tympanic membranes appear pearly grey, shiny, translucent with no bulging, and without cerumen impaction.

Neck: Full range of motion appreciated but both horizontal and vertical movement is slow secondary to pain; no lymphadenopathy.

Neurological: Awake, alert, and oriented to date, place, and person; moves all extremities; cranial nerves II through XII grossly intact; strength 5/5 in all extremities; gait steady; no ataxia, dysmetria, or dysarthria.

Skin: Erythematous, localized, crusted, blistering vesicular rash of various sizes and ages appreciated along the left V3 distribution, C3 to T3 dermatomes anteriorly, and C2 to C6 dermatomes posteriorly.

HIV-1 antibody: positive

CD4 helper t-cells: 48 (L)

HIV-1 RNA PCR: 36,490

The lesions can be characterized as vesicles in various stages of healing. Some lesions are crusted, others are bullous, and a few are pustular. The C2-C6 dermatomes are affected posteriorly, and the C2-T3 dermatomes are involved anteriorly.

The diagnosis is Disseminated Herpes Zoster. The rash in reactivation varicella zoster virus (VZV) is preceded by tingling, itching, or pain, and begins as maculopapular then progresses to vesicles, pustules, and bullae. The rash typically involves a single dermatome and does not cross the midline. Rash present in multiple dermatomes (>3) or a rash that crosses the midline signifies disseminated disease. Hutchinson’s sign is a lesion on the lateral dorsum and tip of the nose indicating the involvement of the nasociliary branch of the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve. The nasociliary branch innervates the eye, thus these lesions are highly suspicious for herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus on fluorescein examination appears as pseuododendritic lesions with no terminal bulbs (not to be confused with herpes simplex virus (HSV) keratitis, which has dendritic lesions with terminal bulbs). Vesicles in the auditory canal (herpes zoster oticus) may be a part of Ramsay Hunt syndrome with ear pain and paralysis of the facial nerve.

The patient is immunocompromised and requires hospitalization for intravenous (IV) antiviral therapy and pain management. VZV primary infection results in viremia, diffuse rash, and seeding of sensory ganglia where the virus establishes latency. Herpes zoster is the result of viral reactivation with spread along the sensory nerve in that dermatome. Antiviral therapy aids in the resolution of lesions, reduces the formation of new lesions, reduces viral shedding, and decreases the severity of acute pain, but does not affect the development of post-herpetic neuralgia.

Immunocompetent patients may receive Valacyclovir 1 g PO q8hrs (preferred) or Acyclovir 800 mg PO 5x/day x 7d if the onset of rash is <3 days or >3 days with the appearance of new lesions.

Immunocompromised, transplant, and cancer patients are all at high risk for dissemination, chronic skin lesions, acyclovir-resistant VZV, and multi-organ involvement. Immunocompromised patients and patients with disseminated zoster require aggressive multimodal treatment, admission to the hospital, and IV antiviral therapy regardless of the time of onset of rash. Recommended therapy is Acyclovir 10 mg/kg IV q8h or Foscarnet 40 mg/kg IV q8h for acyclovir-resistant VZV. All patients require adequate analgesia, typically with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, Gabapentin, Nortriptyline, and Lidocaine patches on intact skin.

Take-Home Points

  • Disseminated herpes zoster is defined as reactivation of VZV in three or more dermatomes. It requires admission, IV antiviral therapy, and pain control.
  • If VZV reactivation involves the face, one must evaluate for herpes zoster ophthalmicus and oticus.
  • Perform a thorough neuro exam including evaluation of cranial nerves V, VII, and VIII.
  • VZV requires airborne precautions.
  1. Cohen JI. Clinical practice: Herpes zoster. N Engl J Med. 2013 Jul 18;369(3):255-63. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcp1302674. PMID: 23863052; PMCID: PMC4789101.

 

 

 

Simplified Dosing Scheme for DigiFab® in Acute Digoxin Poisoning

Simplified Dosing Scheme for DigiFab® in Acute Digoxin Poisoning

Background

Treatment of digoxin toxicity can be quite complex and generally involves the use of digoxin immune Fab (DigiFab®) for symptomatic patients. The dosing of DigiFab can vary depending on the amount ingested, serum concentration, and/or suspected chronicity of toxicity. Alternatively, for an acute ingested of an unknown amount where the serum concentration is not available, it is recommended that 10 vials of DigiFab be administered empirically. This antidote is expensive (~$5,000 per vial) and not always readily available in every hospital. Given the complicated dosing and cost, alternative dosing strategies are being explored.

Evidence

Researchers from Australia first proposed an initial 2-vial DigiFab dose for acute digoxin poisoning in a 2014 review article [1]. They followed this up with a pharmacokinetic study supporting the simplified dosing scheme [2]. Based on their early data, the Australian poison center recommendations were revised to instead use small doses of DigiFab (2 vials at a time) with repeat doses as needed to achieve clinical effect. This allowed them to prospectively study this new dosing strategy in 21 cases of digoxin toxicity [3]. Most patients required less than would have been administered following traditional dosing calculations. Patients receiving the lower-dosing scheme did have a rebound in free digoxin levels >2 ng/mL at a median time of 18 hours in patients with normal renal function and 103 hours in patients with an acute kidney injury. Most patients received 2 vials of DigiFab initially and a median of 4 vials total after receiving additional doses based on persistent or recurrent symptoms. Overall, patients required significantly less antidote with similar clinical outcomes. Importantly, there are limitations with the data to date, highlighted in a letter-to-the-editor with a subsequent response from the original authors [4, 5]. This titration approach should only be considered with input from a toxicologist and still requires the same level of monitoring.

Characteristics and Savings
Amount of digoxin ingested*13 mg (9.5-25 mg)
Initial potassium*5 mEq/L (4.5-5.4 mEq/L)
Fatalities due to digoxin toxicity0
Estimated vials saved^223-356 vials
Estimated cost savings^†$1.1-1.8 million
* Median (IQR)
^ Difference between titrated dosing scheme compared to doses based on ingested amount and serum concentration
† Based on cost of $5000 per vial

Pearls

Following administration of DigiFab, avoid measurement of the total digoxin concentration as this measures both free drug and drug bound to DigiFab, which will cause the result to be falsely elevated [6]. Additionally, extracorporeal treatments are not recommended for the removal of digoxin or the digoxin-Fab complex, regardless of the clinical context [7].

Bottom Line

  • In select cases of acute digoxin poisoning, patients may safely receive 2 vials of DigiFab with repeat doses as necessary based on symptoms. If considering this treatment approach, it is recommended to consult with a toxicologist and/or pharmacist.
  • Total serum digoxin levels can be falsely elevated following the administration of DigiFab.

Want to learn more about EM Pharmacology?

Read other articles in the EM Pharm Pearls Series and find previous pearls on the PharmERToxguy site.

References

  1. Chan BSH, Buckley NA. Digoxin-specific antibody fragments in the treatment of digoxin toxicity. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2014;52(8):824-836. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2014.943907. PMID: 25089630.
  2. Bracken LM, Chan BSH, Buckley NA. Physiologically based pharmacokinetic modelling of acute digoxin toxicity and the effect of digoxin-specific antibody fragments. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2019;57(2):117-124. doi: 10.1080/15563650.2018.1503288. PMID: 30306803.
  3. Chan BS, Isbister GK, Chiew A, Isoardi K, Buckley NA. Clinical experience with titrating doses of digoxin antibodies in acute digoxin poisoning. (ATOM-6). Clin Toxicol (Phila). Published online August 23, 2021:1-7. doi: 10.1080/15563650.2021.1968422. PMID: 34424803.
  4. Mahonski S, Howland MA, Su MK. Comment on: clinical experience with titrating doses of digoxin antibodies in acute digoxin poisoning. Clinical Toxicology. 2021;0(0):1-2. doi: 10.1080/15563650.2021.1994986. PMID: 34709957
  5. Chan BS, Buckle NA. Authors’ reply to comment on: clinical experience with titrating doses of digoxin antibodies in acute digoxin poisoning. Clin Toxicol (Phila). Published online December 14, 2021:1. doi: 10.1080/15563650.2021.2013497. PMID: 34904491.
  6. DigiFab®. Package insert. BTG International Inc; 2017.
  7. Mowry JB, Burdmann EA, Anseeuw K, et al. Extracorporeal treatment for digoxin poisoning: systematic review and recommendations from the EXTRIP Workgroup. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2016;54(2):103-114. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2015.1118488. PMID: 26795743.

IDEA Series: DIY Suture Kit Station

laceration suture repair closure

In medical training there is a lack of simulation based activities including procedural labs. Suturing is a critical skill for trainees to master in the emergency department. However, supervised practice is needed prior to suturing a real patient for the first time. This innovation allows early trainees to master suturing while on shift, using easy to find materials, which increases procedural competency and confidence. This activity allows the teacher to assess and correct the trainees procedural skills prior to attempting to suture a real patient.

Name of innovation

  • This Do-It-Yourself Suture Kit Station incorporates easy to find materials available in every emergency department, allowing early trainees to master suturing prior to suturing real patients.

Learners targeted

  • Medical students and early trainees who need suture practice

General group size

  • One-on-one student training is ideal, but can have multiple students who can practice using multiple suturing stations
  • If teacher unable to instruct while on shift, trainees can be shown a suture training video and practice alongside the video

DIY suture training kit for laceration repair

Materials needed

  • Blue chuck pad
  • Paper/cloth tape
  • Scalpel
  • Suture material
  • Suture kit

More detailed description of the activity and how it was run

  • Make the DIY Suture Kit Station (see above video):
    • Place a thick chuck pad on a flat sturdy surface.
    • Apply cloth tape to the entire surface of the chuck, and tape over the chuck. This is now the suturing pad.
    • Use a scalpel to make an incision to the pad.
    • Use the back blunt end of the scalpel to ‘fluff’ up incision edges to make laceration.
  • Use a laceration repair kit and suture to close the laceration.
  • Instruct the trainee on proper suturing technique on the suture station (or show a suture training video)
  • Have the trainee continue practicing until adequate comfort and proficiency level is achieved
  • Suture real patient!

Lessons learned, especially with regard to increasing resident and program buy in

  • Procedural skills require much repetition to gain proficiency. This is best done with video tutorials, supervision, and deliberate practice.
  • Practicing in a simulated environment greatly improves skill and confidence in real clinical practice.

Educational theory behind the innovation including specifics/styles of teaching involved

  • Simulation practice increases procedural competency.
  • Practicing on shift allows trainees to reach the number of repetitions required to gain mastery in suturing, Routt [1] showed that the number of repetitions required to gain proficiency was 41 times.
  • Competency in suturing is required even when cases are low. Wongkietachorn et al. demonstrated that tutoring suturing improves the trainees’ skillset. A practice suture kit helps improve retention for real-life scenarios [2].

Pearls

  • This DIY suture pad station technique is easily available and inexpensive.
  • To improve suturing techniques and enhance skill retention, medical students and early trainees need to learn with guided supervision on simulated task trainers.

 

References

  1. Routt E, Mansouri Y, de Moll EH, Bernstein DM, Bernardo SG, Levitt J. Teaching the Simple Suture to Medical Students for Long-term Retention of Skill. JAMA Dermatol. 2015 Jul;151(7):761-5. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.118. PMID: 25785695.
  2. Wongkietkachorn A, Rhunsiri P, Boonyawong P, Lawanprasert A, Tantiphlachiva K. Tutoring Trainees to Suture: An Alternative Method for Learning How to Suture and a Way to Compensate for a Lack of Suturing Cases. J Surg Educ. 2016 May-Jun;73(3):524-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2015.12.004. Epub 2016 Feb 20. PMID: 26907573.
By |2021-10-08T10:19:05-07:00Oct 15, 2021|IDEA series, Trauma|

SplintER Series: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

A 45-year-old man presents to the emergency department with chest pain after a high-speed motor vehicle accident where his sternum hit the steering wheel. You notice an area of ecchymosis noted over his sternum, so you decide to get a CT scan (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Case courtesy of Dr Henry Knipe, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 26332

 

(more…)

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