SplintER Series: I Declare a Thumb War

Gamekeeper's Thumb

 

A 39-year-old female presents to the emergency department with right thumb pain after falling in a skiing accident. On exam, there is mild swelling and tenderness on the ulnar aspect of the 1st MCP joint. Additionally, there is laxity with valgus stressing of the 1st MCP joint. An x-ray is obtained and shown above (Image 1. Provided by Alex Tomesch, MD).

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: Chronic Back Pain

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.

Vitals: BP 128/82; HR 72; RR 18; T 37°C

General: Alert and oriented

MSK: Decreased range of motion of the lumbar spine with flexion; Heberden’s and Bouchard’s nodes on multiple fingers

Neurologic: Within normal limits with no focal motor or sensory deficits appreciated; deep tendon reflexes 2+ throughout

Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), complete blood count (CBC), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), calcium, phosphorous, and urinalysis all within normal limits.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): undetectable

HLA-B27: negative

Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH).

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.

Take-Home Points

  • 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.

  • Cammisa M, De Serio A, Guglielmi G. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Eur J Radiol. 1998 May;27 Suppl 1:S7-11. doi: 10.1016/s0720-048x(98)00036-9. PMID: 9652495.

 

By |2021-11-08T10:47:24-08:00Nov 22, 2021|Orthopedic, Radiology, SAEM Clinical Images|

SplintER Series: Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

A 45-year-old man presents to the emergency department with chest pain after a high-speed motor vehicle accident where his sternum hit the steering wheel. You notice an area of ecchymosis noted over his sternum, so you decide to get a CT scan (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Case courtesy of Dr Henry Knipe, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 26332

 

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EMRad: Can’t Miss Adult Traumatic Hip and Pelvis Injuries

 

Have you ever been working a shift at 3 AM and wondered, “Am I missing something? I’ll just splint and instruct the patient to follow up with their PCP in 1 week.” This is a reasonable approach, especially if you’re concerned there could be a fracture. But we can do better. Enter the “Can’t Miss” series: a series organized by body part that will help identify injuries that ideally should not be missed. This list is not meant to be a comprehensive review of each body part, but rather to highlight and improve your sensitivity for these potentially catastrophic injuries. We’ve already covered the adult elbow, wrist, shoulder, ankle/foot, and knee. Now: the hip.

 

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By |2021-09-01T17:23:13-07:00Sep 3, 2021|Orthopedic, Radiology, SplintER, Trauma|

SplintER Series: Pedal to the Metal

Talar Neck Fracture

A 32-year-old female presents to the emergency department with right ankle pain after a high-speed motor vehicle accident. On exam, she is noted to have ecchymosis and swelling over the distal foot, and pain with ankle dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. An x-ray is obtained as shown above (Image 1. Case courtesy of Dr. Charlie Chia-Tsong Hsu, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 18235).

 

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SplintER Series: My Foot Doesn’t Work Right

Achilles tendon rupture

A 35-year-old male felt a painful “pop” in his posterior left lower leg while playing football. Afterward, his “foot didn’t work right anymore.” X-ray of the left ankle and tib/fib was normal but he was unable to ambulate. You plan an ultrasound over the area of maximal tenderness and discover the above image (Image 1.Ultrasound of the left posterior ankle 11cm proximal to the calcaneal insertion of the Achilles tendon.  Case courtesy of Robert Lystrup.)

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