SAEM Clinical Images Series: My Eye is Swollen

eye

A 56-year-old male presented to the Emergency Department with a chief complaint of painful eyelid swelling and itching upon waking up. He reported no history of trauma or fever. He had one similar episode in the past which was self-limiting. The patient denied vision loss, diplopia, pain with extraocular movement, and ophthalmoplegia.

Vitals: T 37.4°C; BP 129/73; HR 91; RR 16

General: A/O x 3; well nourished in NAD

HEENT:  Extraocular movements intact in both eyes. Pupils are equal, round, and reactive to light and accommodation bilaterally. Visual Acuity: OD 20/20, OS 20/25.

Left eye: Diffuse swelling and erythema to the left upper and medial lower eyelids with minimal purulent discharge from the lacrimal puncta. Tenderness localized to the medial canthal region.

Right eye: Normal.

Complete blood count (CBC): within normal limits

Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP): within normal limits

Acute dacryocystitis. Dacryocystitis is defined by inflammation or infection of the nasolacrimal sac. Whether acute or chronic, acquired or congenital, inflammation is caused by obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct usually from infection, trauma, or a space-occupying lesion. The most common infectious organisms are Staphylococcus and beta-hemolytic streptococcus species. The classic clinical presentation is a sudden onset of swelling, erythema, and tenderness in the medial part of the orbit. Conjunctival injection and swelling around the entire orbit can suggest the development of preseptal cellulitis. Complications of dacryocystitis include orbital abscess, orbital cellulitis, vision loss, ophthalmoplegia, and eyelid necrosis. The differential diagnosis includes dacryoadenitis, lacrimal sac or sinonasal tumor, ethmoid sinusitis, and infected sebaceous or dermoid cyst.

Treatment for dacryocystitis depends on the severity and clinical manifestations of the disease. In mild cases, symptoms will resolve with the application of warm compresses, lacrimal sac massage (Crigler technique), and topical antibiotics if indicated. Severe cases may require oral or parenteral antibiotics and surgical decompression.

Take-Home Points

  • Dacryocystitis is inflammation of the medial nasolacrimal sac preceded by obstruction and may be acute or chronic, congenital or acquired.
  • Dacryocystitis exhibits a bimodal age distribution. The common congenital form is found in infancy, and in adulthood at age of 40 years older.
  • Dacryocystitis is occasionally mistaken for dacryoadenitis (inflammation of the nasolacrimal gland with superolateral eyelid edema). Far less common, dacryoadenitis is associated with systemic inflammatory conditions such as malignancy, Sjogren syndrome, sarcoidosis, Crohn’s disease, and other autoimmune diseases.
  • Proper recognition and prompt treatment may prevent serious complications including orbital cellulitis, vision loss, and sepsis.

  • Alsalamah AK, Alkatan HM, Al-Faky YH. Acute dacryocystitis complicated by orbital cellulitis and loss of vision: A case report and review of the literature. Int J Surg Case Rep. 2018;50:130-134. doi: 10.1016/j.ijscr.2018.07.045. Epub 2018 Aug 9. PMID: 30118963; PMCID: PMC6098209.
  • Carlisle RT, Digiovanni J. Differential Diagnosis of the Swollen Red Eyelid. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Jul 15;92(2):106-12. PMID: 26176369.

By |2022-09-11T10:08:30-07:00Sep 19, 2022|HEENT, SAEM Clinical Images|

SAEM Clinical Images Series: Unilateral Facial Pain

swelling

A 78-year-old male with a past medical history of Lewy body dementia, hypertension on bisoprolol, hypothyroidism, COPD, chronic lower extremity edema on furosemide, and overactive bladder on oxybutynin presented to the emergency department for evaluation of three days of progressively worsening left-sided neck and facial swelling. Associated symptoms included poor oral intake, a nonproductive cough, and one week of sore throat.

The black arrow represents the left parotid gland.

Vitals: Afebrile; normal room air saturation

HEENT: Firm, tender, warm and erythematous swelling over the left mandibular ramus that extended to the cheek, left neck, and spread caudally into the supraclavicular region and anterior chest. There were no identifiable hard masses or areas of fluctuance. Further inspection of the oral cavity revealed dry mucous membranes, poor dental hygiene without identifiable dental abscess, tonsils were normal size and equal bilaterally, and uvula was midline. Direct pressure externally over the area of concern revealed purulent discharge from Stenson’s duct.

White blood cell (WBC) count: 22.15

Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP): Na 131; BUN 39; Cr 3.3

Lactic acid: 2.9

Acute suppurative parotitis (ASP) is a serious bacterial infection of the parotid gland that occurs in patients with diminished salivary flow, increased susceptibility to infection, and poor oral hygiene. Our patient had multiple risk factors for this disease which can include dehydration, advanced age, sialolithiasis, medications (diuretics, beta-blockers, antihistamines, phenothiazines, tricyclic antidepressants, anticholinergics), and certain disorders including diabetes, HIV, hypothyroidism, Sjogren’s syndrome. The most common organisms responsible for ASP are Staphylococcus aureus and oral flora anaerobes.

The most feared complications include supraglottitis, cervical necrotizing fasciitis, and other deep neck space infections which can be surgical emergencies and rarely cause impending airway obstruction. Further central and vascular complications include brain abscess, central venous thrombosis, and Lemierre’s syndrome

Take-Home Points

  • The role of bedside ultrasound in acute suppurative parotitis can help to rule out a superficial abscess or sialolithiasis. CT scan is beneficial in ruling out deep space infections as a complication from this disease process or other causes of head and neck swelling.
  • ASP-associated complications are rare but can lead to significant morbidity and mortality secondary to the parotid gland’s proximity to vital structures and ability to spread to adjacent deep spaces.
  • Emergency medicine physicians will manage acute suppurative parotitis and must be aware of the potential complications when determining safe disposition and appropriate treatment.

  • Markovich A, Ronen O. Factors predicting length of stay in patients hospitalized for acute parotitis. J Investig Med. 2021 Feb;69(2):388-392. doi: 10.1136/jim-2020-001506. Epub 2020 Oct 21. PMID: 33087427.

By |2022-09-11T10:03:16-07:00Sep 12, 2022|HEENT, SAEM Clinical Images|

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Snowball Effects

A 13-year-old boy presented to the emergency department with complaints of a right eye injury. Five hours prior to arrival, he was struck directly in the right eye with a snowball resulting in immediate eye pain, localized swelling, some flashes of light in his vision and blurry vision. Prior to arrival, the patient had been seen at an optometry center where puff pressures of his eyes were obtained and the right eye was noted to have an increased intraocular pressure (IOP) of 46 mmHg compared to a pressure of 13 mmHg on the left. He continued to endorse photophobia and mild right eye pain.

Eye:

  • No bony tenderness or crepitus surrounding the right eye
  • Positive blood fluid level in the anterior chamber
  • EOMI
  • On confrontation of visual fields, the patient was unable to count fingers in all fields on the right but could detect light and movement
  • Red reflex could not be elicited on fundoscopic exam
  • On fluorescein exam, no flow of aqueous humor and no corneal abrasions
  • Tono-Pen IOP measurements were 41mmHg in the right eye, and 27 mmHg in the left eye

Non-contributory

The red flags include a history of vision loss and the presence of ocular hypertension with the hyphema. Ophthalmology was emergently consulted for the intraocular hypertension. By the time of evaluation by the specialist, the patient stated that his vision was less blurry and he did not see any spots in his vision. The photos demonstrate progression of the traumatic hyphema from grade IV, to grade II, and then grade I.

 

The emergent conditions that must be addressed include open globe and intraocular hypertension. Ophthalmology IOP measurements were 14 mmHg bilaterally. Visual acuities were 20/40 on the right and 20/20 on the left. A dilated eye exam with the slit lamp could not fully assess the posterior eye structures due to haziness. A metal eye shield was applied to the patient’s right eye, and he was discharged with cyclopentolate and prednisolone acetate eye drops, and an ophthalmology follow-up appointment within 24 hours. The patient was instructed to be on bed rest with the head of the bed elevated and to avoid straining.

 

 

Take-Home Points

  • In traumatic eye injury, pay attention to eye color changes with grade IV hyphema which can be missed unless you compare it to the uninjured side.
  • Look for features of an open globe which include irregularly shaped pupils, delayed consensual light response, extrusion of vitreous, Seidel’s sign (fluorescein streaming of tears away from the puncture site).
  • Beware of intraocular hypertension (>21 mmHg) with high-grade traumatic hyphema which needs to be emergently addressed to prevent optic nerve atrophy and permanent vision loss.

  • Brandt MT, Haug RH. Traumatic hyphema: a comprehensive review. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2001 Dec;59(12):1462-70. doi: 10.1053/joms.2001.28284. PMID: 11732035.
  • Gharaibeh A, Savage HI, Scherer RW, Goldberg MF, Lindsley K. Medical interventions for traumatic hyphema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jan 19;(1):CD005431. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005431.pub2. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;12:CD005431. PMID: 21249670; PMCID: PMC3437611.

 

Trick of the Trade: DIY Nasal Snot Aspirator

nasal bulb suction

Nasal congestion is a common symptom of upper respiratory tract infections, such as bronchiolitis, in newborns and infants. Because newborns are obligate nose breathers, any congestion presents a challenge during feeding and sleeping. These infants become frustrated when they cannot breathe while feeding and tend to have disturbed sleep when their nasal passages are occluded. This often leads to dehydration and irritability. Although the infant bulb syringe (above) can often alleviate the congestion, other commercial products may be able to more forcefully clean out the nasal mucus (e.g., NoseFrida, Bubzi Nasal Aspirator).

Trick of the Trade: DIY Nasal Snot Aspirator

In the Emergency Department, you may encounter families who may not have the resources to purchase or be aware of commercial aspiration devices for children. The concept behind our DIY Nasal Snot Aspirator is to allow the caregiver to suction the child’s nose using the negative pressure generated from the caregiver’s own mouth. The left video demonstrates how the NoseFrida works, and the right video demonstrates our DIY Nasal Snot Aspirator. Note that the specimen trap serves as the protective “filter”, or barrier, between the child’s suctioned mucus and the caregiver’s mouth. Thanks to Stephany Landry, RN, BSN for sharing this trick of the trade.

Equipment Needed: DIY nasal snot aspirator

  1. Left: Little Sucker Aspirator [Amazon]
  2. Middle: Short suction tubing
  3. Right: Mucous specimen trap, 40 cc [Amazon]
DIY Nasal Snot Aspirator equipment

Description of the Trick

  1. Suction tubing: Attach one end to the Little Sucker Aspirator and the other end to the short connector port on the specimen trap.
  2. Instill some saline drops into the child’s nose.
  3. Insert the aspirator tip of your contraption into the child’s nostril.
  4. Have the caregiver suck out through the “straw” attached on top of the specimen trap.
trick DIY nasal snot aspirator
DIY Nasal Snot Aspirator, demonstrated by Stephany Landry, RN, BSN

Disclosures

The authors and ALiEM do not have any affiliation with any of these device companies.

By |2022-01-21T01:18:17-08:00Jan 26, 2022|HEENT, Pediatrics, Tricks of the Trade|

SAEM Clinical Image Series: A Recurring Neck Mass

A 30-year-old female with no significant past medical history presents to the Emergency Department with a six-day history of an enlarging, tender, red “bump” on her anterior neck. She reports similar swelling during bouts of pharyngitis. She also reports a recent upper respiratory infection one week ago that was marked by fever, cough, congestion, sore throat, and myalgia. She denies shortness of breath, neck trauma, travel, or animal exposures.

Vitals: T 37°C; BP 122/78; HR 77; RR 17

General: Well-developed, well-nourished female in no acute distress

HEENT: 2cm tender, fluctuant, mobile right anterior neck mass with surrounding erythema; no drainage noted; mass does not move with swallowing

The remainder of the exam is unremarkable.

Non-contributory

Second branchial cleft cyst

Branchial cleft anomalies are the second most common type of congenital neck mass and present as cartilaginous remnants, sinuses, fistulas, or cysts due to the failure of the branchial apparatus to obliterate. The most common are second branchial cleft anomalies, representing 95% of these cases. Second branchial cleft anomalies are usually located along the anterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle on the left side of the neck.

Differential diagnoses include thyroglossal duct cyst, neck abscess, cystic hygroma, cervical lymphadenopathy, metastatic lymph nodes, and cat scratch disease.

The gold standard of treatment necessitates complete surgical excision of the entire branchial cleft anomaly. Branchial cleft anomalies are most commonly diagnosed with computerized tomography (CT) that shows a uniformly hypo-or-anechoic mass with well-defined margins and thin walls. Preoperative fine needle aspiration cytology can be used to view histopathological findings of the mass and help to rule out malignant disease. Ultrasound and MRI can also be helpful for diagnosis, preoperative localization, and preoperative identification of surrounding structures. However, for definitive diagnosis, surgical excision of the entire anomaly and pathology examination is required. If full resection is not achieved, recurrence is possible.

Take-Home Points

  • A branchial cleft anomaly is the second most common type of congenital neck mass.
  • Branchial cleft anomalies are due to failure of the branchial apparatus to obliterate and can present as cartilaginous remnants, sinuses, fistulas, or cysts.
  • The gold standard of treatment requires complete surgical excision of the entire branchial cleft anomaly to prevent recurrence.
  1. Muller S, Aiken A, Magliocca K, Chen AY. Second Branchial Cleft Cyst. Head Neck Pathol.2015;9(3):379-383. doi:10.1007/s12105-014-0592-y Zaifullah S, YunusMR, See GB. Diagnosis and treatment of branchial cleft anomalies in UKMMC: a 10-year retrospective study. Eur Arch  2013;270(4):1501-1506. doi:10.1007/s00405-012-2200-7

 

By |2021-08-20T09:57:47-07:00Aug 23, 2021|HEENT, SAEM Clinical Images|

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Sudden Onset of Facial Petechiae in Kindergartener

petechiae

A 6-year-old boy with no past medical history presented when his parents noticed facial petechiae after picking him up from school. He had a series of four recent upper respiratory infections within four months since starting public kindergarten. He occasionally also complains of leg pain.

General: Non-toxic, cooperative child

Skin: Petechial rash in periorbital and infra-auricular areas

HEENT: Normal; no lymphadenopathy

Musculoskeletal: Normal strength and range of motion

Hemoglobin: 12.6 g/dL

White blood cell (WBC) count: 6.7×103/mL

Platelets: 352,000/mL

Increased pressure in the dermis from actions such as extended Valsalva maneuver, vomiting, crying, or coughing.

This child had a stressful day in kindergarten. He was holding his breath for extended periods of time to suppress crying. The increased pressure caused the facial petechiae, which was completely unrelated to his recent viral infection or growing pains

Take-Home Points

  • Fine petechiae around the eyes, cheeks, and ears are most often caused by crying or similar behaviors that cause increased pressure in the subcutaneous vessels of the face.
  • Mucosal and cutaneous capillaries are fragile and can easily rupture, even with minor trauma. Usually, platelets can seal these immediately, so when petechiae show up, consider a problem with primary hemostasis.
  1. Kumar V, Abbas A, Aster J. Hemodynamic Disorders, Thromboembolic Disease, and Shock. Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, 10th edition. 2021. Marcdante K, Kliegman R. Immunological Assessment. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics, 8th edition. 2019

 

 

By |2021-07-22T22:10:34-07:00Aug 9, 2021|Dermatology, HEENT, Pediatrics, SAEM Clinical Images|

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.

 

 

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