SAEM Clinical Image Series: Facial Edema

facial edema

A 44-year-old female presents to the emergency department after noticing swelling of her tongue and face, specifically the cheeks and periorbital area. She states the swelling began two weeks ago and has progressively worsened. She also complains of redness.

Vitals: T 38.6°C; BP 135/78; HR 90; RR 18

General: Lying in bed, somewhat anxious appearing

HEENT:

  • Significant edema of bilateral cheeks and periorbital areas
  • Thinning of hair along scalp and lateral aspect of eyebrows
  • Mild macroglossia

Skin:

  • Yellow tinge to patient’s skin
  • Horizontal scar noted on the anterior aspect of the neck

TSH: 31.27 mU/L

Free T4: 0.20 pmol/L

Myxedema facies

This patient has a history of thyroidectomy, as indicated by her neck scar, and a history of noncompliance with levothyroxine.

Myxedema is a term used to describe the appearance of nonpitting edema in patients with severe hypothyroidism. While the exact mechanism is not completely understood, this edema is thought to be secondary to increased deposition of dermal hyaluronic acid, a glycosaminoglycan that can grow up to 1000x its normal size when hydrated. Carotenemia is another possible manifestation of hypothyroidism and is secondary to impaired conversion of carotenoids to retinol in the setting of low levels of thyroid hormone. Additionally, patients may exhibit patchy alopecia, fatigue, cold intolerance, goiter, coarsening of the skin, and macroglossia.

Take-Home Points

  • The presentation of hypothyroidism is widely variable and may be subtle or atypical. Classically, hypothyroidism presents with pretibial myxedema, hyporeflexia, and cold intolerance. In some cases, facial edema may be the predominant feature, as seen in this patient.
  • Brittle, thinning hair on the scalp and eyebrows is a common feature. Thinning of the hair along the lateral eyebrows is called madarosis, also known as “Queen Anne’s Sign.”
  • In a patient with Grave’s disease, maintain a high index of suspicion for hypothyroidism, either as part of the natural history of the disease or as a sequela of treatment.
  1. Safer JD. Thyroid hormone action on skin. Dermatoendocrinol. 2011 Jul;3(3):211-5. doi: 10.4161/derm.3.3.17027. Epub 2011 Jul 1. PMID: 22110782; PMCID: PMC3219173.
  2. Wiersinga WM. Adult Hypothyroidism. 2014 Mar 28. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, Chrousos G, de Herder WW, Dhatariya K, Dungan K, Grossman A, Hershman JM, Hofland J, Kalra S, Kaltsas G, Koch C, Kopp P, Korbonits M, Kovacs CS, Kuohung W, Laferrère B, McGee EA, McLachlan R, Morley JE, New M, Purnell J, Sahay R, Singer F, Stratakis CA, Trence DL, Wilson DP, editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000–. PMID: 25905416.

 

 

ALiEM AIR Series | HEENT 2021 Module

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Welcome to the AIR HEENT Module! After carefully reviewing all relevant posts from the top 50 sites of the Social Media Index, the ALiEM AIR Team is proud to present the highest quality online content related to head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat emergencies in the Emergency Department. 6 blog posts within the past 12 months (as of March 2021) met our standard of online excellence and were curated and approved for residency training by the AIR Series Board. We identified 2 AIR and 4 Honorable Mentions. We recommend programs give 3 hours (about 30 minutes per article) of III credit for this module.

AIR Stamp of Approval and Honorable Mentions

 

In an effort to truly emphasize the highest quality posts, we have 2 subsets of recommended resources. The AIR stamp of approval is awarded only to posts scoring above a strict scoring cut-off of ≥30 points (out of 35 total), based on our scoring instrument. The other subset is for “Honorable Mention” posts. These posts have been flagged by and agreed upon by AIR Board members as worthwhile, accurate, unbiased, and appropriately referenced despite an average score.

Interested in taking the HEENT quiz for fun or asynchronous (Individualized Interactive Instruction) credit? Please go to the above link. You will need to create a free, 1-time login account.

Highlighted Quality Posts: HEENT Emergencies

SiteArticleAuthorDateLabel
EMCritEpiglottitisJosh Farkas, MDJuly 2, 2020AIR
Taming the SRUJaw DislocationKristin Meigh, MDJanuary 13, 2021AIR
EMDocsPeritonsillar AbscessRyan Sumpter, MD and Rachel Bridwell, MDMar 7, 2020HM
PedEMMorselsOpen Globe Injuries in ChildrenSean Fox, MDAugust 14, 2020HM
PedEMMorselsNasolacrimal Duct ObstructionSean Fox, MDJune 12, 2020HM
St. Emlyn’sLudwig’s AnginaPete Hulme, MBChBJanuary 9, 2021HM

(AIR = Approved Instructional Resource; HM = Honorable Mention)

If you have any questions or comments on the AIR series, or this AIR module, please contact us! More in-depth information regarding the Social Media Index.

Thank you to the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) and the Council of EM Residency Directors (CORD) for jointly sponsoring the AIR Series! We are thrilled to partner with both on shaping the future of medical education.

SAEM Clinical Image Series: An Incidental Finding

nail gun

A middle-aged man presented after a motor vehicle collision with a logging truck at 55 miles per hour with low back pain. A computed tomography scan (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis at an outside facility showed a burst fracture of the third lumbar vertebra (L3). The patient had no other complaints. Given the fracture, additional CT imaging was done and the above finding was discovered.

After the incidental finding was found, the patient reported a nail gun accident three years prior where he thought it had just recoiled and struck him in the lip and nose, causing a lip laceration and a minor bloody nose. The patient was seen in the emergency department. The laceration was repaired, and he was discharged without imaging. The patient denied any significant residual symptoms or personality changes. The patient had no idea that a nail had discharged from the gun and lodged in his face and brain.

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: Atraumatic Proptosis

An 85-year-old female with a past history of hypertension presents with acute right-eye pain, redness, and proptosis/bulging for the past two months that has been worsening over the past two days. She endorses blurry vision that began two days prior. She does not use contacts or glasses. No trauma, headache, or loss of consciousness are reported. She reports a “whooshing” sound in her right ear for two to three months.

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Trick of the Trade: An Improvised Foreign Body Removal Device

Foreign bodies in the ear or the nose can be extremely challenging to remove, especially considering that a majority of them occur in children less than 7 years old who are likely to be uncooperative with exam [1]. In a previous post, we emphasized the need to pick the best tool for the job in order to minimize complications. What happens when you find yourself in an austere environment and the usual tools are not available?

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By |2020-04-14T12:40:35-07:00Apr 29, 2020|HEENT, Tricks of the Trade|

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Facial Swelling in a 2 Year Old

Facial swelling


[Click for larger view]

Chief complaint: Left-sided facial swelling

History of Present Illness: A 2-year-old male presents to the emergency department in January after waking up with left-sided facial swelling. Mother states her son has had cough and congestion for the past 4 days for which she has been giving Tylenol and a children’s cough medication. The patient went to bed, awoke the following morning with facial swelling, and was brought to the emergency department.

He has no allergies, history of trauma to the area, or bug bites. The patient is fully vaccinated including the influenza vaccine.

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