Question Of The Day #95

question of the day

Complete Blood Count

Result

(Reference Range)

WBC Count

16.2

4.0 – 10.5 X 103/mL

Hemoglobin

10.8

13.0 – 18.0 g/dL

Hematocrit

32.4

39.0 – 54.0 %

Platelets

220

140 – 415 x 103/mL

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

This patient arrives to the Emergency department with bright red bloody stools and lower abdominal pain.  The exam shows fever, tachycardia, and left-sided abdominal tenderness.  The laboratory results provided show leukocytosis and anemia.  This patient likely has a lower GI bleed based on her signs and symptoms.  Please refer to the chart below for a list of causes of GI bleeding, GI bleeding signs and symptoms, and the initial Emergency Department treatment of GI bleeding. 

All choices provided are causes of lower GI bleeding and are possible in this patient.  However, that patient’s signs, symptoms, and risk profile make certain diagnoses less likely than others.  Diverticulosis (Choice A) is the most common cause of lower GI bleeding.  Diverticulosis often occurs in older patients and should not be associated with pain or fever, which support a diagnosis of an inflammatory or infectious etiology (i.e., diverticulitis, Shigellosis, ulcerative colitis, chron’s disease, etc.).  This patient is young and has fever and leukocytosis, making diverticulosis less likely.  Colon malignancy (Choice B) is also possible but is less likely given the patient’s young age, the presence of fever, and the acute onset of symptoms over 2 days.  Colon malignancy tends to cause slow GI bleeding over a longer period of time, rather than acutely over 2 days.  Ischemic colitis (Choice C), such as mesenteric ischemia, is less likely in a young patient without any cardiac risk factors or recent abdominal surgeries. 

Ulcerative colitis (Choice D) is the most likely diagnosis in this scenario.  Peak incidence for ulcerative colitis occurs in the second and third decades of life, and women are more likely than men to have this diagnosis.  Definitive diagnosis requires a biopsy and colonoscopy, but a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis can show findings consistent with ulcerative colitis for a new diagnosis.  Treatment of an ulcerative colitis flare includes general supportive care, IV steroids, and IV antibiotics if there is concern for a concurrent infectious process.  Intestinal perforation and toxic megacolon also should be evaluated for with CT imaging.    

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #95," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, July 1, 2022, https://iem-student.org/2022/07/01/question-of-the-day-95/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #94

question of the day

Complete Blood Count

Result

(Reference Range)

WBC Count

4.5

4.0 – 10.5 X 103/mL

Hemoglobin

5.3

13.0 – 18.0 g/dL

Hematocrit

15.9

39.0 – 54.0 %

Platelets

138

140 – 415 x 103/mL

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient’s condition?

This patient arrives to the Emergency Department with bright red bloody stools in the setting of warfarin use.  His exam shows hypotension and tachycardia.  The laboratory results show a low hemoglobin and hematocrit, but no INR or other coagulation studies are provided.  This patient is in hemorrhagic shock due to a lower gastrointestinal bleed.  This patient’s condition may be due to coagulopathy from his warfarin (i.e., supratherapeutic INR), diverticulosis, or other conditions.  Initial management of this unstable patient should include management of the airway, breathing, and circulation (“ABCs”).  This includes aggressive and prompt treatment of the patient’s hypotension and tachycardia and reversal of the patient’s anticoagulation.  Please refer to the chart below for a list of causes of GI bleeding, GI bleeding signs and symptoms, and the initial Emergency Department treatment of GI bleeding. 

This patient’s platelet level is just below the lower limit of normal, so administration of a platelet transfusion (Choice A) would not be the next best step.  Platelet administration should be considered if the platelet count is below 50,000-100,000, or if a massive transfusion protocol is initiated to prevent coagulopathy.  No INR value is provided in the question stem, but prompt reversal of warfarin should not be delayed for an INR level (Choice D).  Reversal of warfarin should be promptly initiated when a patient is unstable (i.e., hypotensive GI bleed, traumatic wound hemorrhage, intracranial bleed, etc.).  Medication reversal in these settings includes both IV Vitamin K 10mg and IV Fresh Frozen Plasma 10-20cc/kg.  IV Vitamin K helps reverse the Vitamin K antagonistic effect of Warfarin, but it does not acutely provide new Vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors (Factors X, V, II, VII).  IV Vitamin K gives the liver the ‘materials’ needed to regenerate these coagulation factors, but this process takes time.  Fresh frozen plasma contains ‘ready-to-use’ coagulation factors that will help control the hemorrhage acutely.  For this reason, both Vitamin K and FFP are given together in an unstable patient.  An alternative to fresh frozen plasma (FFP) is prothrombin complex concentrate (PCC), which is a concentrated version of coagulation factors.  PCC is not broadly available in all countries, and is generally more expensive than FFP. 

The management of stable patients with a supratherapeutic INR includes holding warfarin doses and sometimes providing PO Vitamin K, depending on the INR level.  Administration of IV Vitamin K only (Choice C) is not the correct treatment in this scenario.  IV Vitamin K and IV Fresh Frozen Plasma (Choice B) is the best next step to reverse this patient’s anticoagulant. 

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #94," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 24, 2022, https://iem-student.org/2022/06/24/question-of-the-day-94/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #93

question of the day

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management?

This patient arrives to the Emergency Department with bright red bloody stools and generalized abdominal pain.  His exam shows hypotension, tachycardia, a diffusely tender abdomen, and pale conjunctiva.  He also takes warfarin daily for anticoagulation.  This patient is in hemorrhagic shock due to a lower gastrointestinal bleed.  This patient’s condition may be due to coagulopathy from his warfarin (i.e., supratherapeutic INR), diverticulosis, ischemic colitis (i.e., mesenteric ischemia), and other conditions.  Initial management of this unstable patient should include management of the airway, breathing, and circulation (“ABCs”).  This includes aggressive and prompt treatment of the patient’s hypotension and tachycardia.  Please refer to the chart below for a list of causes of GI bleeding, GI bleeding signs and symptoms, and the initial Emergency Department treatment of GI bleeding. 

A CT Angiogram of the abdomen and pelvis (Choice A) may be helpful in clarifying the etiology and site of the patient’s bleeding, but this is not the best next step in management.  The patient’s shock state first should be managed prior to any imaging studies.  Gastroenterology consultation for colonoscopy (Choice B) may be important later in this patient’s management, but it is not the best next step in management. His shock state should be treated prior to calling any consultants. An IV Pantoprazole infusion (Choice C) is helpful in upper GI bleeds due to peptic ulcer disease.  Proton pump inhibitor medications, like pantoprazole, help reduce findings of ulcer bleeding during endoscopy.  Proton pump inhibitor use has been controversial in upper GI bleeds as there is no evidence that their use decreases mortality, decreases blood product requirements, or ulcer rebleeding, but these medications are often given due to their generally small risk profile.

 

The best next step for this patient in hemorrhagic shock is administration of packed red blood cells (Choice D).  He also should have reversal of his warfarin with IV Vitamin K and fresh frozen plasma to prevent continued bleeding.

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #93," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 17, 2022, https://iem-student.org/2022/06/17/question-of-the-day-93/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #92

question of the day

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

This elderly patient arrives to the Emergency Department with painless hematochezia.  His exam shows borderline hypotension, tachycardia, and a normal abdominal exam.  This patient most likely has a lower gastrointestinal bleed based on his signs and symptoms.  A brisk (fast) upper GI bleed is also possible but is less likely.  Please refer to the chart below for a list of causes of GI bleeding, GI bleeding signs and symptoms, and the initial Emergency Department treatment of GI bleeding. 

All choices listed above are potential causes of bright red bloody stools.  Peptic ulcer disease (Choice C) is the most common cause of upper GI bleeding worldwide, not lower GI bleeding.  However, a profusely bleeding peptic ulcer can cause rapid blood transit through the GI tract to form hematochezia rather than melena.  The patient lacks any risk factors or symptoms of peptic ulcer disease, such as upper abdominal pain, hematemesis, NSAID use, or prior H. pylori infection.  Ischemic colitis, or mesenteric ischemia (Choice A), is often associated with abdominal pain and cardiac risk factors (i.e., atrial fibrillation).  Colon cancer (Choice B) is also possible, but typically colon malignancy causes slow, chronic bleeding, rather than acute large volume bloody stools with signs of shock as in this patient.  The most common cause of lower GI bleeding worldwide is diverticulosis (Choice D).  This is the most likely diagnosis in this patient with painless hematochezia.

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #92," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 10, 2022, https://iem-student.org/2022/06/10/question-of-the-day-92/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #91

question of the day

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

This patient arrives to the Emergency Department with upper abdominal pain and hematemesis.  He occasionally takes ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is a risk factor for GI bleeding. His examination shows tachycardia.  This patient likely has an upper gastrointestinal bleed given his signs and symptoms.  Please refer to the chart below for a list of causes of GI bleeding, GI bleeding signs and symptoms, and the initial Emergency Department treatment of GI bleeding.  

All choices listed above are potential causes of upper GI bleeding, with the exception of GERD (Choice D).  Erosive gastritis and esophagitis can cause an upper GI bleed, but GERD is not a cause of upper GI bleed.  The patient lacks risk factors for esophageal varices (Choice A), such as chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, or alcohol abuse.  Gastric malignancy (Choice B) is possible, but less likely given the patient’s young age and lack of risk factors mentioned in the question stem for gastric malignancy (i.e., prior H. pylori infection, tobacco smoking, chronic gastritis, weight loss, lymphadenopathy, etc.).  The most common worldwide cause of upper GI bleeding is peptic ulcer disease (Choice C).  For this reason, Choice C is the best answer.

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #91," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 3, 2022, https://iem-student.org/2022/06/03/question-of-the-day-91/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

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.  

 

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #57," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 1, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/10/01/question-of-the-day-57/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #40

question of the day

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient?

This elderly patient presents to the emergency department with left lower abdominal pain, constipation, and anorexia. The exam shows fever, tachycardia, and marked left lower quadrant tenderness. Compared to younger patients, abdominal pain in an elderly patient has a higher likelihood of being due to a surgical emergency or from a diagnosis that carries higher mortality. Elderly patients may have more nonspecific associated symptoms that may make it difficult to confirm a dangerous diagnosis without advanced imaging. Additionally, elderly patients do not always have a fever or elevated white blood cells during an abdominal infection. The differential diagnosis of abdominal pain in an elderly patient should be broad and encompass conditions related to many body systems.

The most likely diagnosis for this patient is diverticulitis based on the location of the pain. Features of diverticulitis include left lower quadrant pain, nausea, vomiting, change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation), anorexia, fever, and leukocytosis. Right-sided diverticulitis is more common in patients of Asian descent, so these patients may alternatively present with right lower quadrant pain. Treatment for acute diverticulitis includes antibiotics, bowel rest, hydration, increased dietary fiber, and pain management.

Other potential diagnoses to consider for this patient include perforated diverticulitis, abdominal abscess, colitis, bowel obstruction, malignancy, AAA, urinary tract infection, ureterolithiasis, and soft tissue infections. The best next step in the management of this patient is to treat empirically for an abdominal infection with IV hydration, antipyretics, and antibiotics. Sepsis from a gastrointestinal source requires antibiotics that cover both gram-negative and anaerobic bacteria. IV Vancomycin (Choice A) is helpful for skin infections, soft tissue infections, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staph aureus) infections, or other infections from gram-positive organisms. Vancomycin would not include coverage for a gastrointestinal source. IV Metronidazole covers anaerobic bacteria, and Ciprofloxacin covers gram-negative bacteria. This makes Choice D the best antibiotic choice for this patient. Other options include IV ampicillin-sulbactam, ampicillin and metronidazole, piperacillin-tazobactam, ticarcillin-clavulanate, or imipenem. A CT scan on the abdomen and pelvis (Choice B) should be performed on this patient (ideally with PO and IV contrast). However, IV hydration and antibiotics are a more important initial step to address the patient’s sepsis. CT scanning is recommended for first-time diverticulitis episodes or if there are alternative diagnoses on the differential. Patients with a history of recurrent diverticulitis who present to the Emergency department with uncomplicated acute diverticulitis are able to be treated empirically with oral antibiotics in the outpatient setting. Ill-appearing patients, have no prior history of diverticulitis or have possible alternative diagnoses should get CT imaging. Emergent colonoscopy (Choice C) is not indicated as part of the Emergency department management of acute diverticulitis. In fact, colonic inflammation or inflamed diverticuli are contraindications to colonoscopy (increased risk of bowel rupture). Correct answer: D

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #40," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, May 21, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/05/21/question-of-the-day-40/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #39

question of the day
Abnormal Right Upper Quadrant

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient?

This female patient presents to the Emergency department with atraumatic right shoulder pain, generalized abdominal discomfort, and vaginal bleeding.  She is found to have a positive urine pregnancy test and signs of shock on physical exam (hypotension and tachycardia).  The FAST exam (Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma) demonstrates free fluid around the liver.  This quick bedside sonographic exam evaluates the right upper quadrant (liver, right kidney, right lung base), left upper quadrant (spleen, left kidney, left lung base), suprapubic area (bladder), and subxiphoid area (view of heart).  The FAST exam is typically used in the setting of trauma to assess for intra-abdominal bleeding, or “free fluid”.  Fluid on ultrasound appears black, or anechoic.  In the setting of trauma or presumed hemorrhagic shock, free fluid is assumed to be blood.  The hepato-renal recess, also known as Morrison’s pouch, is the most common site for fluid to be seen on a FAST exam.  For this reason, the right upper quadrant should always be viewed first during a FAST exam if there is concern for hemorrhagic shock.  The patient’s right upper quadrant FAST view is annotated below.

This patient is in shock with free fluid in her right upper quadrant FAST view.  In the setting of a pregnancy of unknown origin, shock, and abdominal free fluid, a ruptured ectopic pregnancy is assumed to be the diagnosis.  A cystic adnexal structure and a uterus without a gestational sac can also be noted on ultrasound.  Ectopic pregnancy can present with mild symptoms ranging from abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding to signs of shock with hemoperitoneum as in this patient.  Risk factors for ectopic pregnancy include prior ectopic pregnancies, prior tubal surgeries, prior sexually transmitted infections, tobacco smoking, and use of an intrauterine device (IUD).  Initial Emergency department treatment should include volume resuscitation with blood products, pre-operative laboratory testing, and prompt OB/GYN consultation (Choice C).  Patients who are unstable, show signs of shock, or have large ectopic pregnancies are treated operatively.  Patients with stable vital signs, small ectopic pregnancies, and minimal symptoms are treated medically with Methotrexate (Choice A).   This patient’s hemodynamic instability makes Methotrexate contraindicated in her treatment course.  The patient’s atraumatic shoulder pain is likely from free fluid in the right upper quadrant, causing referred pain to the shoulder from diaphragmatic irritation.  A shoulder X-ray (Choice B) is not indicated in this patient.  Rho(D) immune globulin (RhoGAM) (Choice D) is an important treatment to provide in Rh-negative mothers with ectopic pregnancy.  RhoGAM is indicated in maternal-fetal hemorrhage in order to prevent the maternal immune system from attacking fetal Rh-positive cells in future pregnancies.  RhoGAM is indicated in Rh-negative mothers, not Rh-positive mothers.  The question does not indicate the mother’s blood type or Rh status, however, RhoGAM is not the best initial treatment.  Treatment of the hemorrhagic shock and OB/GYN consultation are the best next steps.  Correct Answer: C

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #39," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, May 14, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/05/14/question-of-the-day-39/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #38

question of the day
251 - Gallbladder stone with thickened wall
Which of the following is the most likely cause for this patient’s condition?

This patient presents to the emergency department with upper abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. The physical exam demonstrates fever, tachycardia, and focal right upper quadrant abdominal tenderness. Differential diagnoses to consider include cholecystitis, choledocholithiasis, cholangitis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, and ruptured peptic ulcer. The ultrasound image provided shows a thickened gallbladder wall (>4mm) and a gallstone present. See the labeled image below.

Signs of acute cholecystitis on ultrasound include a thickened gallbladder wall, pericholecystic fluid (anechoic (black) fluid around gallbladder), the presence of a gallstone (hyperechoic (white) with posterior shadowing), sonographic Murphy sign (tenderness when the transducer is pressed into gallbladder), and a dilated gallbladder. This patient has some but not all sonographic signs of cholecystitis. However, the age, obese body habitus, fever, and location of the pain support a diagnosis of acute cholecystitis (Choice B). Treatment of acute cholecystitis involves IV hydration, parenteral pain management and antiemetics, IV antibiotics, and surgical consultation for cholecystectomy. Biliary colic (Choice A) is less likely given the ultrasound findings and fever on exam. If the patient’s vital signs were normal and the ultrasound showed gallstones with no other sonographic signs of cholecystitis, biliary colic would be more likely. Gastritis (Choice C) does not cause fever or the sonographic signs illustrated above. Gallstones are the most common cause of pancreatitis (Choice D), but there is focal tenderness over the gallbladder in the right upper quadrant. Additional findings, such as an elevated lipase level, pain that radiates to the back, or a history of alcohol abuse would make pancreatitis a more likely diagnosis. Correct Answer: B

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #38," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, May 7, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/05/07/question-of-the-day-38/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #37

question of the day
25.1 - obstruction volvulus coffee bean 1

Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management for this patient?

This elderly male patient presents to the emergency department with generalized abdominal pain and distension. Compared to younger patients, abdominal pain in an elderly patient has a higher likelihood of being due to a surgical emergency or from a diagnosis that carries higher mortality. Elderly patients may have more nonspecific associated symptoms that may make it difficult to confirm a dangerous diagnosis without advanced imaging. Additionally, elderly patients do not always have a fever or elevated white blood cells during an abdominal infection. The differential diagnosis of abdominal pain in an elderly patient should be broad and encompass conditions related to many body systems.

The abdominal X-ray demonstrates a “coffee bean sign” and dilated loops of the large bowel (note haustra of the large bowel). The image supports the diagnosis of sigmoid volvulus, a type of large bowel obstruction that necessitates prompt surgical consultation in the Emergency department. Risk factors for sigmoid volvulus are elderly age, constipation, poor mobility, and residence in a long-term care facility. If left untreated, volvulus can result in intestinal ischemia, necrosis, perforation, and peritonitis. Sigmoid volvulus is most often treated with manual intestinal detorsion through flexible sigmoidoscopy or rectal tube. Cecal volvulus is more common in younger patients, and requires surgical bowel resection or cecopexy (fixing the cecum to the abdominal wall).

The abdominal X-ray provided is sufficient to make the diagnosis of volvulus. A CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis (Choice A) is not necessary for this patient. Surgical consultation is the next best step. IV antibiotics (Choice D) are indicated in volvulus if there are signs of intestinal perforation, necrosis, or peritonitis. The question stem indicates that although the abdomen is tender and distended, the abdomen is soft. This makes peritonitis and the need for antibiotics less likely. Surgical consultation for colectomy (Choice B) would be correct if the patient had cecal volvulus or if there were signs of bowel necrosis. Surgical consultation for bowel detorsion (Choice C) is the best next step for this patient with sigmoid volvulus. Correct Answer: C

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #37," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, April 30, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/04/30/question-of-the-day-37/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #36

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

A hernia is an abnormal defect in the abdominal wall through which intra-abdominal contents (i.e., bowel) can protrude. About 10% of the population experiences hernias at one time during their lifetime. Hernias can cause symptoms that range from mild discomfort to severe pain with signs of bowel obstruction, perforation, necrosis, or peritonitis. The most common type of hernia is the inguinal hernia located along the inguinal crease. Other hernias include the femoral hernia, obturator hernia, Richter hernia, internal hernias, and ventral hernias (umbilical, incisional, Spigelian hernia types). Hernias are further classified as reducible, incarcerated (firm, painful, nonreducible), or strangulated (firm, severely painful, nonreducible, overlying skin redness or crepitus, signs of bowel necrosis or obstruction).

This patient has a right inguinal hernia on exam with overlying skin redness, severe tenderness, and signs of intestinal obstruction (vomiting, constipation, abdominal distension). This should raise concern over a strangulated hernia, which is a surgical emergency. Treatment includes IV hydration, IV antibiotics, and prompt surgical consultation for operative management. The patient’s inguinal hernia is not incarcerated (Choice A), the hernia is strangulated. A Spigelian hernia (Choice B) is located along the lateral ventral abdomen along with the rectus abdominal muscle. Spigelian hernias have a high rate of incarceration compared to other hernias. This patient’s hernia is located along the inguinal crease, not the ventral abdominal wall. Fournier’s gangrene is a severe necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum. Although early Fournier’s gangrene may lack subcutaneous emphysema and marked skin redness, the location and other historical details make a strangulated inguinal hernia a more likely diagnosis. Choice D is the correct answer.

Correct Answer: D

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #36," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, April 23, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/04/23/question-of-the-day-36/, date accessed: July 7, 2022

iEM Image Feed: Gallbladder Stone

iem image feed

A 35-year-old woman presents to the emergency department with right upper quadrant pain of two hours duration. She awoke several hours after eating a large meal. Based on increasing pain and nausea she presents for evaluation. She denies vomiting, fever or dysuria. Her past history is notable for diet-controlled type II diabetes, dyslipidemia, and essential hypertension. Her BMI is 33. Her only medication is lisinopril 10 mg daily. She has never had surgery. Her social history is unremarkable. She neither drinks alcohol nor uses tobacco. She has begun to diet and reports recent weight loss.

Her temperature is 37ºC, blood pressure: 110/70 mmHg, pulse: 90 beats per minute. Physical exam reveals an overweight female in mild distress secondary to right upper quadrant pain. She cannot find a position of comfort and describes the pain as similar to labor pains. Pertinent exam findings include: chest exam normal, cardiac exam normal, abdominal exam demonstrates normal bowel sounds and no rebound in any quadrant. She has guarding to inspiration with palpation over the gallbladder (positive Murphy’s sign). Rectal exam normal, stool is hemoccult negative for blood. Pertinent lab values: glucose 110 mg/dl, alkaline phosphatase 120 U/L, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) 25 U/L, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) 25 U/L, gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) 20 U/L, direct bilirubin 0.1 mg/dL, total bilirubin 0.5 mg/dL, lipase 20 U/L.

The emergency physician performs a focused right upper quadrant ultrasound and finds gallstones without associated gallbladder wall thickening or pericholecystic fluid. In addition, the patient has a “sonographic Murphy sign”: there is maximal abdominal tenderness when the ultrasound probe is pressed over the visualized gallbladder.

79 - gall bladder stone

Further reading

Cite this article as: iEM Education Project Team, "iEM Image Feed: Gallbladder Stone," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, April 21, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/04/21/iem-image-feed/, date accessed: July 7, 2022