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.

 

 

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|
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