Question Of The Day #57

question of the day

Which of the following is the most likely cause for this patient’s condition?  

This young female presents with dizziness, fatigue, nausea, generalized abdominal pain, hypotension, tachycardia, and a positive urine pregnancy test.  The anechoic (black) areas on the bedside ultrasound indicate free fluid (blood) in the peritoneal space.  See the image below for clarification. Yellow arrows indicates free fluids.

This patient is in a state of physiologic shock.  Shock is an emergency medical state characterized by cardiovascular or circulatory failure.  Shock prevents peripheral tissues from receiving adequate perfusion, resulting in organ dysfunction and failure.  Shock can be categorized as hypovolemic, distributive, obstructive, or cardiogenic.  The different categories of shock are defined by their underlying cause (i.e., sepsis, hemorrhage, pulmonary embolism, etc.) and their hemodynamics which sometimes overlap.  The diagnosis of shock is largely clinical and supported by the history, vital signs, and physical exam.  Additional studies, such as laboratory investigations, bedside ultrasound, and imaging tests help narrow down the type of shock, potential triggers, and guide management. 

This patient’s condition is caused by a presumed ruptured ectopic pregnancy and intraperitoneal bleeding.  This is considered hypovolemic/hemorrhagic shock (Choice A). The other types of shock in Choices B, C, and D are less likely given the clinical and diagnostic information in the case.  The chart below details the categories of shock, each category’s hemodynamics, potential causes, and treatments.  



Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #57," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 1, 2021,, date accessed: September 21, 2023

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