Which of the following is the most likely cause of the patient’s condition?
All patients who present to the emergency department with chest pain should be evaluated for the top life-threatening conditions causing chest pain. Some of these include myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, esophageal rupture, tension pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, and aortic dissection. Many of these diagnoses can be ruled-out or deemed less likely with a detailed history, physical exam, EKG, and sometimes imaging and blood testing. This patient presents with vague, burning chest pain, nausea, and tachycardia on exam. Pulmonary embolism (Choice A) is hinted by the patient’s tachycardia, but the patient has no tachypnea or risk factors mentioned for PE. Additionally, the chest X-ray findings demonstrate an abnormality that can explain the patient’s symptoms. Pancreatitis (Choice B) and Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (Choice D) are also possible diagnoses, especially with the location and description of the patient’s pain. However, Chest X-ray imaging offers an explanation for the patient’s symptoms. The patient’s Chest X-ray demonstrates the presence of pneumoperitoneum. In the presence of NSAID use, this radiological finding raises concern over a perforated viscus from advanced peptic ulcer disease (Choice C). Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is most commonly caused by Helicobacter pylori infection, but NSAIDs, iron supplements, alcohol, cocaine, corrosive substance ingestions, and local infections can cause PUD. PUD is a clinical diagnosis which can be confirmed visually via endoscopy. The treatment for PUD includes initiation of a proton pump inhibitor (H2-receptor blockers are 2nd line), avoiding the inciting agent, and H.pylori antibiotic regimens in confirmed H.pylori cases. The treatment for a perforated peptic ulcer with pneumoperitoneum is IV fluids, IV antibiotics, Nasogastric tube placement, and surgical consultation for repair.
- McAninch S, Smithson III CC. Gastrointestinal Emergencies. In: Stone C, Humphries RL. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Emergency Medicine, 8e. McGraw-Hill; Accessed August 18, 2020. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2172§ionid=165065027
- Nickson, C. (2019). Chest pain DDx. Life in the Fastlane. Accessed August 18, 2020. https://litfl.com/chest-pain-ddx/
You may want to read these
Acute Coronary Syndrome – https://iem-student.org/acute-coronary-syndome-acs/
Acute Management Of Supraventricular Tachycardias – https://iem-student.org/2020/01/10/acute-management-of-supraventricular-tachycardias/
Deadly ECG Patterns – 5 Can’t Miss ECG Findings – https://iem-student.org/2019/11/22/deadly-ecg-patterns-5-cant-miss-ecg-findings/
Cardiac Monitoring – https://iem-student.org/cardiac-monitoring/