Question Of The Day #60

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

This first-trimester pregnant patient presents with generalized weakness, nausea, and vomiting.  She is hypotensive and tachycardic with no sign of urinary infection on the urinalysis.  The many ketones in the urine indicate the patient has inadequate oral nutrition and is breaking down muscle and adipose tissue for energy.  This is likely related to the persistent vomiting the patient is experiencing.  This patient has hyperemesis, a common condition in the first trimester of pregnancy that is caused by rising levels of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (BHCG).  Treatment for this patient should include IV hydration and antiemetics.  Admission criteria for these patients includes intractable vomiting despite antiemetic administration, over 10% maternal weight loss, persistent ketone or electrolyte abnormalities despite rehydration, or uncertainty in the diagnosis. 

The fluid losses caused by vomiting in this condition result in hypovolemic shock (Choice B).  Distributive shock (Choice C) is caused by other conditions, like sepsis, anaphylaxis, and neurogenic shock.  A ureteral stone (Choice D) is unlikely as the patient does not report any abdominal, back, or flank pain.  The urinalysis also does not show any hematuria, which is a common sign of a ureteral stone.  Pyelonephritis (Choice A) can cause vomiting and septic shock which can result in hypotension and tachycardia.  However, there is no sign of infection in the urinalysis provided, no fever, and no back or flank pain.  The best answer is choice B.  


Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #60," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 22, 2021,, date accessed: September 28, 2023

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