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.

 

 

ALiEM AIR Series | HEENT 2021 Module

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is AIR-logo-2016-transparent-SAEM-CORD-586x650.jpg

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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