A 52-year-old male with a past medical history of prostate cancer status post radiation therapy 10 years prior presents to the emergency department (ED) with the chief complaint of low back pain worsening over the past year. He characterizes the pain as a “dull, aching stiffness” associated with decreased motility.
The classic clinical presentation is an older male with increasing back pain and stiffness that is worse in the morning, as seen in 80% of affected individuals. Common labs are unremarkable in patients with DISH. Peripheral joint involvement is possible, especially in joints that are not normally affected by primary osteoarthritides, such as the foot and ankle. Heel spurs, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis may be seen as well. Differentiating features of DISH compared to ankylosing spondylitis include older age of presentation, preservation of facet joints and disk spaces, and no association with HLA-B27.
This patient has an increased risk of spinal fractures. Thus, if an older patient with known DISH presents with acute back pain following minor trauma, the workup will require a comprehensive neurovascular exam and imaging of the entire spine due to the patient’s disposition to spinal fractures.
Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) is an occult noninflammatory disorder of unknown etiology characterized by calcification and ossification of spinal ligaments and entheses on imaging.
Diagnostic criteria include linear calcification and ossification along the anterolateral aspect of multiple consecutive vertebral bodies, most often seen in the thoracic spine and less commonly seen in the cervical and lumbar spines.
Therapy for patients with DISH is similar to that of chronic lower back pain: physical therapy, exercise, and symptomatic pain management with acetaminophen or NSAIDs.
Patients should be educated to monitor acute changes in localized spine pain or neurologic disturbances, as DISH predisposes patients to fractures, even from minor injuries.
A previously healthy 8-year-old female presents to the pediatric emergency department due to a rash. Her symptoms started three days prior to presentation with a painful rash on her lower extremities. The rash subsequently spread to the buttocks and upper extremities, and she developed intermittent diffuse abdominal pain, a nonproductive cough, and pharyngitis. The patient denies subjective fever. Known sick contacts include the patient’s mother, who tested positive for COVID-19 two and a half weeks prior.
Vitals: T 98.5°F; HR 93; BP 115/68; RR 16; O2 sat 100% on room air
Constitutional: Well-developed and in no acute distress
HEENT: Normocephalic, atraumatic; moist mucus membranes; no conjunctival injection; posterior pharyngeal erythema without exudates; tonsils are three bilaterally; lips are not cracked; no “strawberry tongue”;
Neck: Normal range of motion; no lymphadenopathy
Cardiovascular: Regular rate and rhythm; normal heart sounds and pulses
Pulmonary: Effort is normal; normal breath sounds; no wheezing
Abdominal: Abdomen is flat; minimal tenderness to palpation without guarding; no organomegaly
Skin: Diffuse petechial rash and painful, palpable, nonblanching purpura in the dependent regions (most notable on the buttocks and lower extremities)
COVID-19-Associated Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C): According to CDC criteria, patients must be under 21 years of age, with a fever higher than 38°C/subjective fever for longer than 24 hours, laboratory evidence of inflammation, severe illness requiring hospitalization, and two or more organ systems involved (cardiac, renal, respiratory, hematologic, gastrointestinal, dermatologic, or neurologic), with no alternative plausible diagnoses and recent COVID-19 infection.
Immunoglobulin A Vasculitis (Henoch-Schönlein Purpura): According to the EULAR/PRINTO/PRES criteria, symptoms must include cutaneous findings (palpable purpura or petechiae without the presence of thrombocytopenia), plus at least one of the following: diffuse abdominal pain with acute onset, arthritis/arthralgia, renal involvement in the form of proteinuria or hematuria, or deposition of Immunoglobulin A seen on renal histology.
Kawasaki Disease: The diagnostic criteria include fever for five days or longer and four of the following: bilateral conjunctival injection, cervical lymphadenopathy, polymorphous rash, oral mucous membrane changes (including fissured lips, pharyngeal erythema or strawberry tongue), peripheral extremity changes (edema of the hands/feet or desquamation).
This patient presented with palpable purpura and petechiae without the presence of thrombocytopenia, as well as diffuse abdominal pain. The majority of cases of IgA Vasculitis are preceded by a respiratory pathogen, with the most common being streptococcus, staphylococcus, and parainfluenza virus. Although not well-documented due to its recent conception, COVID-19 is likely to be the cause of this patient’s vasculitis. Usual management of IgA Vasculitis is supportive care, with admission and specialty referral for complications including intussusception and glomerular involvement. Given the severity of the differential diagnoses, this patient was admitted to the hospital for observation and discharged the following day with close follow-up
COVID-19 can cause a variety of rashes in the pediatric population, and appropriate workup including inflammatory markers, complete blood count, and comprehensive metabolic panel must be initiated to rule out severe disease. Consider obtaining a troponin, EKG, chest x-ray, echocardiogram, ferritin, prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time, international normalized ratio, fibrinogen, urinalysis and cultures to assess for end-organ damage. If positive, and the patient appears ill, consider Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).
IgA Vasculitis is usually caused by a respiratory pathogen. Keep it on your differential when assessing children who test positive for Covid-19.
Complications of IgA vasculitis include intussusception, heme-positive stool, microscopic hematuria, and periarticular disease.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Alert Network. (2020). Case Definition for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). [online] Available at: https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2020/han00432.asp.
Trnka P. Henoch-Schönlein purpura in children. J Paediatr Child Health. 2013 Dec;49(12):995-1003. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12403. Epub 2013 Oct 18. PMID: 24134307.
Ozen S, Pistorio A, Iusan SM, Bakkaloglu A, Herlin T, Brik R, Buoncompagni A, Lazar C, Bilge I, Uziel Y, Rigante D, Cantarini L, Hilario MO, Silva CA, Alegria M, Norambuena X, Belot A, Berkun Y, Estrella AI, Olivieri AN, Alpigiani MG, Rumba I, Sztajnbok F, Tambic-Bukovac L, Breda L, Al-Mayouf S, Mihaylova D, Chasnyk V, Sengler C, Klein-Gitelman M, Djeddi D, Nuno L, Pruunsild C, Brunner J, Kondi A, Pagava K, Pederzoli S, Martini A, Ruperto N; Paediatric Rheumatology International Trials Organisation (PRINTO). EULAR/PRINTO/PRES criteria for Henoch-Schönlein purpura, childhood polyarteritis nodosa, childhood Wegener granulomatosis and childhood Takayasu arteritis: Ankara 2008. Part II: Final classification criteria. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 May;69(5):798-806. doi: 10.1136/ard.2009.116657. PMID: 20413568.
Royle J, Burgner D, Curtis N. The diagnosis and management of Kawasaki disease. J Paediatr Child Health. 2005 Mar;41(3):87-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2005.00555.x. PMID: 15790316.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A 6-year-old otherwise healthy female presented to the emergency department (ED) with a rash across all four extremities. She has had seven months of pruritic, expanding lesions starting on her shins, now beginning to expand on her forearms. No history of allergies or irritant exposure. Due to Covid-19, she has been unable to see a provider before today’s ED visit.
Psoriasis vulgaris, plaque subtype, is a common dermatologic condition often seen in the outpatient setting. Plaques are most commonly noted on the knees, elbows, and lower back. The silvery plaques in characteristic locations are a hallmark of this diagnosis but are rarely seen to this extent. Unfortunately for this patient, this was the initial presentation due to the inability to access care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initial management is with high-potency topical corticosteroids. Systemic steroids should be avoided to prevent exacerbation or eruption of pustular psoriatic lesions. In this case, given the patient’s age and disease severity, she was seen in the ED by Dermatology and initiated on corticosteroid topical therapy. She was encouraged to establish care with rheumatology to be routinely screened for associated life-altering pathologies including psoriatic arthritis and uveitis.
When making a visual diagnosis of plaque psoriasis, evaluate for erythema, edema, or signs of superinfection.
Avoid systemic steroids given the risk of rash exacerbation, especially upon withdrawal.
Younger patients and those with more than 10% body surface area involvement should be evaluated by a dermatologist for initiation of topical corticosteroids and possible escalation to phototherapy, methotrexate, retinoids, or biologic agents.
Menter A, Cordoro KM, Davis DMR, Kroshinsky D, Paller AS, Armstrong AW, Connor C, Elewski BE, Gelfand JM, Gordon KB, Gottlieb AB, Kaplan DH, Kavanaugh A, Kiselica M, Kivelevitch D, Korman NJ, Lebwohl M, Leonardi CL, Lichten J, Lim HW, Mehta NN, Parra SL, Pathy AL, Farley Prater EA, Rupani RN, Siegel M, Stoff B, Strober BE, Wong EB, Wu JJ, Hariharan V, Elmets CA. Joint American Academy of Dermatology-National Psoriasis Foundation guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis in pediatric patients. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020 Jan;82(1):161-201. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2019.08.049. Epub 2019 Nov 5. Erratum in: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020 Mar;82(3):574. PMID: 31703821.
A 53-year-old caucasian male with a history of alcohol and amphetamine abuse presents to the Emergency Department via ambulance immediately after sustaining a fist-blow injury to the right eye. The patient denies loss of consciousness and complains of eye pain with the inability to see.
This procedure is easily performed at the bedside in the ED and the transected lateral canthal tendon and inferior/superior crus can be repaired during the repair of the presenting injury. Patients report improvements in pain and sometimes vision in as little as 10 minutes after the procedure.
A CT should be ordered after performing a lateral canthotomy and cantholysis to minimize the complications associated with elevated retrobulbar pressure including ischemia and permanent loss of vision. This photograph depicts a patient who presented to the ED suffering from the effects of orbital compartment syndrome (OCS) after being punched in the eye. OCS can develop from as little as 7mL of fluid accumulation in the retro-orbital space and can rapidly lead to permanent blindness if ischemia is present for more than 100 minutes. Symptoms of OCS requiring immediate lateral canthotomy and cantholysis include: proptosis, increased intraocular pressure, Marcus-Gunn pupil, decreased acuity, or restricted ocular movements. Importantly, OCS is a clinical diagnosis, and treatment of this condition should not be delayed for further testing or diagnostic workup. While treatment may not result in the return of vision, there are many case reports of patients regaining full or partial vision up to two hours after the onset of symptoms.
A 3-year-old healthy uncircumcised male presents to the Emergency Department with five days of penis swelling and pain. Five days prior, his father noted that the patient’s foreskin appeared stuck behind the head of the penis. The patient was seen at an urgent care facility four days prior and was given an antifungal cream for presumed balanitis, however, this did not resolve the patient’s symptoms. Since that time, the penis has been getting progressively more swollen and painful. The patient has not experienced the inability to urinate, decreased urine output, penile discharge, other penile lesions, fever, chills, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, testicular pain, or testicular swelling.
In the evaluation of painful penile swelling, the first step is to determine whether the patient is circumcised or not through a review of the medical record or discussion with the patient’s family. In an uncircumcised male, the critical next step is to assess for an entrapped and retracted foreskin (paraphimosis). Visualization of the glans penis and the urethral meatus as in this case demonstrates that the foreskin is retracted. Additionally, visualization of the glans penis and urethral meatus makes a scarred and unretractable foreskin (pathologic paraphimosis) unlikely to be the primary diagnosis. The differential diagnosis also includes hair tourniquet syndrome, chigger bites, and inflammation of the glans and foreskin (balanitis and balanoposthitis).
In any male presenting with penile pain, it is critical to first ascertain his circumcision status. In an uncircumcised male, visualizing the glans and urethral meatus demonstrates that the foreskin is retracted.
Paraphimosis is a medical emergency caused by an entrapped, retracted foreskin.