Succinylcholine and the Risk of Hyperkalemia

By |Categories: EM Pharmacy Pearls, Tox & Medications|

Background Succinylcholine is frequently used in the ED to facilitate intubation, but it may be avoided in some cases due to the risk of hyperkalemia. The underlying physiology of this effect appears to be directly related to its therapeutic mechanism of action. When succinylcholine binds to and activates acetylcholine receptors, it leads to an influx of sodium and calcium and and an efflux of potassium into the extracellular space [1]. Additionally, when these acetylcholine receptors are immature or denervated, it seems that these channels may stay open significantly longer, allowing for an increased  amount of potassium to exit the cell, [+]

High-Dose Nitroglycerin for Sympathetic Crashing Acute Pulmonary Edema

By |Categories: EM Pharmacy Pearls, Pulmonary, Tox & Medications, Uncategorized|

Background Nitroglycerin (NTG) is an important intervention to consider for patients with Sympathetic Crashing Acute Pulmonary Edema (SCAPE) as it significantly reduces preload, and even modestly reduces afterload with high doses. For acute pulmonary edema in the ED, NTG is often administered as an IV infusion and/or sublingual tablet. Starting the infusion at ≥ 100 mcg/min produces rapid effects in many patients and can be titrated higher as tolerated, with doses reaching 400 mcg/min or greater. Combined with noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) and in some cases IV enalaprilat, patients often turn around quickly, from the precipice of intubation to [+]

SplintER Series: One Big Bounce

By |Categories: Expert Peer Reviewed (Clinical), Orthopedic, SplintER, Trauma|Tags: , , |

  A 5-year-old boy presents with right leg pain and a limp. His parents report it started after he was bouncing on the trampoline with his older sibling but they did not notice any specific trauma. He has tenderness over his proximal shin with no obvious injury. You suspect a fracture and obtain x-rays of the right knee (Figure 1). Figure 1. AP and Lateral x-rays of the right knee. Case courtesy of Dr Andrew Dixon,, rID: 16139 [+]

Beta-Blockers for Inhalant-Induced Ventricular Dysrhythmias

By |Categories: Cardiovascular, Critical Care/ Resus, EM Pharmacy Pearls, Tox & Medications|

Background There are a few unique scenarios when beta-blockers may be indicated for patients in cardiac arrest. Use of esmolol for refractory ventricular fibrillation was summarized in a 2016 PharmERToxGuy post with an accompanying infographic. Another potential use for beta-blockers is in the rare case of a patient with inhalant-induced ventricular dysrhythmias. The term ‘sudden sniffing death’ refers to acute cardiotoxicity associated with inhaling hydrocarbons. Check out this ACMT Toxicology Visual Pearl for more information about the background and diagnosis of inhalant abuse. It is thought that inhalants causes myocardial sensitization via changes in various cardiac channels (e.g., sodium channels, [+]

SplintER Series: To Immobilize or Not to Immobilize: That is the Question

By |Categories: Expert Peer Reviewed (Clinical), Orthopedic, SplintER|

A patient presents to the Emergency Department after sustaining a twisting knee injury while skiing. She felt a pop and was unable to bear weight afterward secondary to pain and a feeling of instability. Shortly after the injury, she noted increased swelling and pain. On examination, she has a moderate effusion and a positive Lachman test. An x-ray was obtained and is shown above (Image 1. Case courtesy of Mikael Häggström, M.D. – Author info – Reusing images, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons).   [+]

PEM POCUS Series: Pediatric Ocular Ultrasound for Optic Nerve Evaluation

By |Categories: Pediatrics, PEM POCUS|

Read this tutorial on the use of point of care ultrasonography (POCUS) for pediatric ocular ultrasonography for optic nerve evaluation. Then test your skills on the ALiEMU course page to receive your PEM POCUS badge worth 2 hours of ALiEMU course credit.   Take the ALiEMU PEM POCUS: Pediatric Ocular Ultrasound Quiz - test your skills PATIENT CASE: Child with a Headache Madeline is a 15-year-old female presenting to the Emergency Department with chief complaint of a headache for 1 week. She has been struggling with headaches for more than a year. The headache has been intermittent and tends to [+]

SplintER Series: Attack by Bat

By |Categories: Expert Peer Reviewed (Clinical), Orthopedic, SplintER|

30-year-old male presents to the ED with pain over the right shoulder after being assaulted by a bat. The right arm is held in adduction and has a limited range of motion due to pain. An x-ray of the right shoulder was obtained and is shown above (Figure 1. Case courtesy of Dr. Ian Bickle,, rID: 74640).   [+]

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SplintER Series: The Tooth of the Cervical Spine

By |Categories: Expert Peer Reviewed (Clinical), Orthopedic, SplintER|

  80-year-old male patient brought in by ambulance for a witnessed fall. A cervical collar was placed by EMS because of midline neck pain. The patient is neurologically intact. A CT of the cervical spine was obtained and is shown above (Case courtesy of Dr. Talal F M Abdullah,, rID: 58030).   [+]

Diagnosis on Sight: Neck Bruising Leads to a Surprise Diagnosis

By |Categories: Diagnose on Sight, Heme-Oncology|

A 76-year-old female with a history of HTN, TIA, CAD, left CEA, and CKD presented to the emergency department for evaluation of neck bruising and swelling. The patient stated that the night before, she was eating popcorn and choked on a kernel. She states that she coughed to clear her throat and shortly after she developed swelling and bruising to the left side of her neck, which has progressively gotten worse. The patient has a remote history of left carotid endarterectomy and was concerned that her symptoms could be related to the prior surgery. On examination, she had ecchymosis and [+]

Trick of the Trade: Upsize the IV with the tourniquet infusion technique

By |Categories: Critical Care/ Resus, Tricks of the Trade|

There you are, middle of the night and EMS just brought you one of the sickest of the sick: a septic-looking, chronically ill-appearing, frail, and malnourished patient with low blood pressures. They need vascular access for fluids, antibiotics, and possibly even vasopressors. The patient arrives with only a 22-gauge peripheral IV in the hand. You ask for two large bore IVs. But unfortunately, your best nurses and techs can’t find a vein, and their initial attempts are unsuccessful. Do you move right towards ultrasound-guided placement, intraosseous needle, or a central line? What if the patient only needs a fluid bolus, [+]