In some trauma patients with head and face trauma, you will need to check their pupillary response to light. Severe periorbital and eyelid swelling, however, make this difficult. You want to minimize multiple attempts to retract the eyelids because of the risk of a ruptured globe. What’s a minimally painful and traumatic way to check for pupillary constriction?
Emergency physicians are procedural experts in central venous access. The subclavian vein is the best site for such access, because it has been shown to have the lowest rate of iatrogenic infections and deep venous clots
Bedside ultrasonography has really revolutionized how we obtain vascular access over the past 10 years. Identifying the subclavian vein using ultrasonography, however, is still technically challenging. The vein is located just posterior to the clavicle, which often gets in the way of the linear transducer.
Bedside ultrasonography is increasingly being used in the ED to examine the eye. For instance, it can be used to detect a retinal detachment, vitreous hemorrhage, and high intracranial pressure. The technique involves applying ultrasound gel on the patient’s closed eyelid. A generous amount of gel should be used to minimize the amount of direct pressure applied on the patient’s eye by the ultrasound probe.
Sometimes, however, no matter how careful you and the patient are, some gel accidentally contacts the eye itself.
As bedside ultrasonography is becoming a staple in central line placement (especially of internal jugular lines), emergency physicians now can minimize complications, such as carotid artery puncture and a pneumothorax. Traditionally, the US probe is positioned along the short-axis of the IJ during the procedure (see right).
In a sneak peek of my ACEP News’ Tricks of the Trade column, Dr. Patrick Lenaghan, Dr. Ralph Wang, and I will discuss how bedside ultrasonography can significantly improve your ocular exam.
Here is a classic example. A patient presents with acute onset right eye pain and blurry vision. She possibly has a field cut in her vision. Her pupils are a teeny 2 mm in size in the brightly-lit Emergency Department. You are having a hard time getting a good fundoscopic exam to comfortably rule-out a retinal detachment.