Trick of the Trade: Dix-Hallpike maneuver variation

Hallpike-dix maneuver

The Dix-Hallpike maneuver is used to help diagnose benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

  • Place the gurney’s head of the bed down flat.
  • Reposition the patient so that s/he is sitting another 12 inches or so closer towards the head of the flat gurney.
  • Rotate patient’s head 45 degrees.
  • Help the patient lie down backwards quickly.
  • The patient’s head should be hanging off of the gurney edge in about 20 degrees extension.
  • Observe for rotational nystagmus after a 5-10 second latency period, which confirms BPPV.

I find 2 things challenging in this maneuver.

  • The patient often does not like to be moved AT ALL while feeling nauseously vertiginous. This even includes trying to reposition the seated patient closer to the head of the bed. This requires them to look behind them to see what where they are going, which sets off more vertigo.
  • In some of our ED rooms and hallways, the head of the gurney bed is often abutting a wall, a portable monitor, or some equipment. It takes a little fancy shuffling to make room for the Dix-Hallpike maneuver.

Trick of the Trade: A modified Dix-Hallpike maneuver

Place blankets or a pillow under the shoulders for the Dix-Hallpike maneuver.

Hallpike-dix maneuver pillow blanket

 

The key is to maintain about 20-30 degrees of neck extension to align the posterior semicircular canals with the direction of gravity. Placing several blankets under the patients’ shoulders can accomplish this same position without having to scoot the patient close to the gurney edge. I’m sure the patient would appreciate keeping their head movement to a minimum.

By |2020-01-07T23:52:15-08:00Aug 30, 2011|ENT, Neurology, Tricks of the Trade|

Trick of the Trade: Crossed straight leg raise test

SLRA 35 year old man presents with low back pain which radiates down his right leg to the level of the knee. Is this sciatica?

Low back pain is one of the most common chief complaints that we see in the Emergency Department. In addition to the examination of the back and distal neurovascular function, we also need to test for evidence of a radiculopathy (compression or inflammation of a nerve root typically from a herniated disk). Because most disk herniations occur at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 level, you should test for irritation of the L4-S1 nerve roots. This is the sciatic nerve.

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By |2016-11-11T18:52:17-08:00Aug 23, 2011|Orthopedic, Tricks of the Trade|

Trick of the Trade: Splinting the ear

EarHematomaDressing

One of the hardest bandages to apply well is one for auricular hematomas. After drainage, how would you apply a bandage to prevent the re-accumulation of blood in the perichondrial space?

Traditionally, one can wedge xeroform gauze or a moistened ribbon (used for I&D’s) in the antihelical fold. Behind the ear, insert several layers of gauze, which have been slit half way to allow for easier molding around the ear. Anterior to the ear, apply several layers of gauze to complete the “ear sandwich”. Finally, secure the sandwich in place with an ACE wrap, which ends up being quite challenging because of the shape of the head.

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By |2016-11-11T19:59:20-08:00Aug 10, 2011|ENT, Trauma, Tricks of the Trade|

Trick of the Trade: Making a beanie hat

Scalp lacerations are a common condition in the Emergency Department. Some require no bandage over once the injury is repaired. Because the scalp is so vascular, others require a pressure dressing over the site to minimize hematoma formation.

How do you bandage these patients? It is difficult to secure any wrap or square gauze over the site, because the head is round and the hair is slippery.

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By |2019-01-28T22:36:18-08:00Jul 27, 2011|Tricks of the Trade|

Tricks of the Trade: Underwater ultrasonography

Basketweaving

I’ve heard of underwater basketweaving, but underwater ultrasonography?

Bedside ultrasonography is a great tool to help find small foreign bodies. Commonly foreign bodies get lodged superficially in the patient’s extremities. Because superficial structures (<1 cm deep) are difficult to visualize on ultrasound, you should apply a really generous, thick layer of ultrasound gel to create some distance. Alternatively, you can add a step-off pad, such as a bag of saline or fluid-filled glove, to place between the patient’s skin and transducer. What’s a quicker and easier way to create some distance yet preserve image quality?

Trick of the Trade

Submerse both the body part and the ultrasound transducer under water.

WristUSsm

For this “bath water technique”, start by holding the transducer perpendicular to the wound and about 1 cm away from the skin. You can adjust the distance to optimize the image quality.

FB_Hand

FB_Hand2

Thanks to Andy at Emergency Medicine Ireland blog for these 2 ultrasound images! 

This submersion technique has been published in American Journal of EM in 2004 as a painless alternative to gel or a step-off pad, because the transducer does not need to apply any pressure on the patient’s wound.

Reference
Blaivas M, Lyon M, Brannam L, Duggal S, Sierzenski P. Water bath evaluation technique for emergency ultrasound of painful superficial structures. Amer J Emerg Med. 2004; 22(7), 589-93 PMID: 15666267

By |2016-11-11T18:52:38-08:00Jul 20, 2011|Tricks of the Trade, Ultrasound|