Question Of The Day #59

question of the day
38 - atrial fibrillation

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

This patient presents to the Emergency Department with palpitations, generalized weakness, and shortness of breath after discontinuing all her home medications.  She has hypotension, marked tachycardia, and pulmonary edema (crackles on lung auscultation).  The 12-lead EKG demonstrates atrial fibrillation with a rapid ventricular rate.  This patient is in a state of cardiogenic shock and requires prompt oxygen support, blood pressure support, and heart rate control. 

Pulmonary embolism (Choice A) can sometimes manifest as new atrial fibrillation with shortness of breath and tachycardia, but pulmonary embolism initially causes obstructive shock.  If a pulmonary embolism goes untreated, it can progress to right ventricular failure, pulmonary edema, and cardiogenic shock.  This patient has known atrial fibrillation and stopped all her home medications.  The abrupt medication change is a more likely cause of the patient’s cardiogenic shock.  Dehydration (Choice D) and systemic infection (Choice D) are less likely given the above history of abruptly stopping home maintenance medications.  Untreated cardiac arrythmia (Choice B) is the most likely cause for this patient’s pulmonary edema and cardiogenic shock. 

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 #59," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 15, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/10/15/question-of-the-day-59/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #58

question of the day
720 - variceal bleeding

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

This cirrhotic patient presents to the Emergency Department with epigastric pain after an episode of hematemesis at home.  His initial vital signs are within normal limits.  While waiting in the Emergency Department, his clinical status changes.  The patient has a large volume of hematemesis with hypotension and tachycardia.  This patient is now in hemorrhagic shock from an upper gastrointestinal bleed and requires immediate volume resuscitation.  The most common cause of upper gastrointestinal bleeding is peptic ulcer disease, but this patient’s cirrhosis history and large volume of hematemesis should raise concern for an esophageal variceal bleed.  IV Pantoprazole (Choice D) is a proton pump inhibitor that helps reduce bleeding in peptic ulcers, but it does not provide benefit in esophageal varices.  Volume repletion is also a more important initial step than giving pantoprazole.  IV Ceftriaxone (Choice C) helps reduce the likelihood of infectious complications in variceal bleed patients.  This has a mortality benefit and is a recommended adjunctive treatment.  However, rapid volume resuscitation is a more important initial step.  IV crystalloid fluids, like normal saline (Choice A), are helpful in patients with hypovolemic shock (i.e., dehydration, vomiting), distributive shock (i.e., sepsis, anaphylaxis), and obstructive shock (i.e., tension pneumothorax, etc.).  Hypovolemic shock due to severe hemorrhage (hemorrhagic shock) requires blood products, not crystalloid fluids which can further dilute blood and cause coagulopathy.  Administration of packed red blood cells (Choice B) is the best next step in management in this case.

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #58," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 8, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/10/08/question-of-the-day-58/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Cryptic Shock – Identifying the Unseen (PART 1)

Case Presentation

A 68-year-old man presented to the Emergency Department with complaints of breathing difficulty and fever for three days. The patient is a known diabetic and hypertensive.

After detailed history taking, clinical examination, and radiological workup, the patient was diagnosed with right-sided lobar pneumonia (Community-acquired) and immediately started on intravenous antibiotics. In addition, necessary cultures and blood samples were taken for evaluation.

At the time of presentation, his vitals were HR – 92/min, BP – 130/70mmHg, RR – 30/min, SpO2 – 90% with RA à 96% with 2L O2. He underwent bladder catheterization.

During the 1st hour in the ER, the patient had a very low urine output, which continued for the next few hours. Lactate levels were more than 4mmol/L.

Based on the symptoms, oliguria, and hyperlactatemia, the patient was diagnosed to have sepsis and was initiated on fluid resuscitation. After 2 hours, the patient remained oliguric still, and his BP declined to 120/70mmHg.

After 6 hours, the patient’s BP became 110/60mmHg (MAP – 77). He became anuric and developed altered sensorium. Since he did not meet the criteria of septic shock, he was continued on IV fluids and antibiotics.

After 12 hours, the BP became 80/40mmHg (MAP – 63mmHg) à developed Multiorgan Dysfunction Syndrome. He was then started on vasopressors and mechanical ventilation.

By day 3, the patient further deteriorated and went into cardiac arrest. ROSC was not achieved.

Case Analysis

The treatment initiated was based on protocols like Surviving Sepsis Guidelines and Septic Shock management. So how did the process fail in order to adequately resuscitate this patient? Could something have been done more differently?

The case you read above is a very common scenario. Approximately 30% of the people coming to the ER are hypertensive, and around 10% have diabetes mellitus. They form a huge population, among whom the incidence of any other disease increases their morbidity and early mortality.

Before we delve into the pathology in these patients, let us look at the basic definitions of shock/hypotension.

  • SBP < 90mmHg
  • MAP < 65 mmHg
  • Decrease in SBP > 40mmHg
  • Organ Dysfunction
  • Hyperlactatemia
  • Shock: A state of circulatory insufficiency that creates an imbalance between tissue oxygen supply (delivery) and demand (consumption), resulting in end-organ dysfunction.
  • Septic Shock: Adult patients can be identified using the clinical criteria of hypotension requiring the use of vasopressors to maintain MAP of 65mmHg or greater and having a serum lactate level greater than 2 mmol/L persisting after adequate fluids resuscitation.
  • Cryptic Shock: Presence of hyperlactatemia (or systemic hypoperfusion) in a case of sepsis with normotension.

Based on all the information given above;

  1. what do you think was wrong with our patient?
  2. What kind of shock did he have?
  3. Could we have managed him any other way?
  4. When should we have started inotropes?
  5. Did the fact that he was hypertensive and diabetic have to do with his early deterioration? If so, how?
  6. When did the patient-first develop signs of shock?
  7. What are the different signs and symptoms of shock, and how are they recognized in the ER?

Keep your answers ready… 

Part 2 of Cryptic Shock Series – Vascular Pathology and What is considered ‘Shock’ in Hypertensive patients

Part 3 of Cryptic Shock Series – Individualised BP management

Part 4 of Cryptic Shock Series – Latest Trends

References and Further Reading

  1. Ranzani OT, Monteiro MB, Ferreira EM, Santos SR, Machado FR, Noritomi DT; Grupo de Cuidados Críticos Amil. Reclassifying the spectrum of septic patients using lactate: severe sepsis, cryptic shock, vasoplegic shock and dysoxic shock. Rev Bras Ter Intensiva. 2013 Oct-Dec;25(4):270-8. doi: 10.5935/0103-507X.20130047.
  2. Singer M, Deutschman CS, Seymour CW, Shankar-Hari M, Annane D, Bauer M, Bellomo R, Bernard GR, Chiche JD, Coopersmith CM, Hotchkiss RS, Levy MM, Marshall JC, Martin GS, Opal SM, Rubenfeld GD, van der Poll T, Vincent JL, Angus DC. The Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3). JAMA. 2016 Feb 23;315(8):801-10. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.0287.
  3. Shankar-Hari M, Phillips GS, Levy ML, Seymour CW, Liu VX, Deutschman CS, Angus DC, Rubenfeld GD, Singer M; Sepsis Definitions Task Force. Developing a New Definition and Assessing New Clinical Criteria for Septic Shock: For the Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3). JAMA. 2016 Feb 23;315(8):775-87. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.0289.
  4. Education Resources – Sepsis Trust
  5. The Research of Predicting Septic Shock – International Emergency Medicine Education Project (iem-student.org)
  6. Sepsis – International Emergency Medicine Education Project (iem-student.org)
  7. Empiric Antibiotics for Sepsis in the ED Infographics – International Emergency Medicine Education Project (iem-student.org)
  8. Sepsis – An Overview and Update – International Emergency Medicine Education Project (iem-student.org)
Cite this article as: Gayatri Lekshmi Madhavan, India, "Cryptic Shock – Identifying the Unseen (PART 1)," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 4, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/10/04/cryptic-shock/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

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: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #56

question of the day

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

This trauma patient arrives with hypotension, tachycardia, absent unilateral lung sounds, and distended neck veins. This should raise high concern for tension pneumothorax, which is a type of obstructive shock (Choice C). This diagnosis should be made clinically without X-ray imaging. Bedside ultrasound can assist in making the diagnosis by looking for bilateral lung sliding, if available. Treatment of tension pneumothorax should be prompt and includes needle decompression followed by tube thoracostomy. Other types of shock outlined in Choices A, B, and D do not fit the clinical scenario with information that is given.

Recall that 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. 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 #56," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, September 24, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/09/24/question-of-the-day-56/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #55

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

This patient presents with chest pressure at rest and an anterior ST segment elevation myocardial infraction (STEMI) seen on 12-lead EKG.  This patient should be given aspirin, IV fluids to increase the preload status, and receive immediate coronary reperfusion therapy.  This patient’s hypotension is likely due to infarction of the left ventricle causing poor cardiac output (Choice D).  This is known as cardiogenic shock.  The patient has been vomiting, but the acute onset of symptoms and STEMI on EKG make poor cardiac output (Choice D) more likely than hypovolemia (Choice A) as the cause for the patient’s condition.  Systemic infection (Choice B) and pulmonary embolism (Choice C) are also less likely given the clinical information in the case and the STEMI on EKG.  The best answer is Choice D.  Please see the chart below for further detailing of the different types of shock.   

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #55," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, September 17, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/09/17/question-of-the-day-55/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #54

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

This patient sustained significant blunt trauma to the chest, presents to the Emergency Department with hypotension, tachycardia, a large chest ecchymosis, and palpable sternal crepitus.  The ultrasound image provided shows a subxiphoid view of the heart with a large pericardial effusion.  In the setting of trauma, this should be assumed to be a hemopericardium.  This patient has cardiac tamponade, which is considered a type of obstructive shock (Choice C).  Treatment includes IV hydration to increase preload, bedside pericardiocentesis, and ultimately, a surgical cardiac window performed by cardiothoracic surgery.  The other shock types (Choices A, B, D) do not describe this patient’s presentation.  Please see the chart below for further description of the different shock types and therapies.

 

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #54," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, September 10, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/09/10/question-of-the-day-54/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #53

question of the day

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

This patient endured a high-speed motor vehicle accident, arrives with hypotension and bradycardia, and has a C6 vertebral body fracture on imaging.  These details support a diagnosis of neurogenic shock, a type of distributive 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.  The chart below details the categories of shock, each category’s hemodynamics, potential causes, and treatments.  

Neurogenic shock is caused by spinal cord damage above the T6 level.  Unlike other types of shock, neurogenic shock is characterized by hypotension and bradycardia (not tachycardia).  These vital sign abnormalities are caused by damage to sympathetic nervous system (Choice C).  Neurogenic shock has decreased systemic vascular resistance (warm extremities), not increased systemic vascular resistance (cool extremities) (Choice A).  Occult hemorrhage (Choice B) is always a concern in a trauma patient.  However, this would present with findings of hypovolemic/hemorrhagic shock (tachycardia, hypotension, cool extremities).  Tension pneumothorax (Choice D) is also unlikely as the patient has clear bilateral lung sounds on exam.  The best answer is Choice C.

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #53," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, September 3, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/09/03/question-of-the-day-53/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #52

question of the day

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

This patient has anaphylactic shock, which falls under the category of distributive shock.  Anaphylactic shock is an acutely life-threatening type of allergic reaction that if left untreated, can progress to airway edema, asphyxiation, and death.  Exposure to a known or unknown allergen is the trigger for anaphylaxis.  Diagnosis of this condition requires the below criteria to be met:

  1. Acute onset of skin or mucosal changes (i.e., urticaria, tongue or lip swelling) AND hypotension or respiratory compromise (i.e., wheezing).

OR

  1. Dysfunction of two or more body systems after exposure to a presumed allergen:
    1. Skin/mucosa (i.e., urticaria, swelling of tongue or lips)
    2. Pulmonary (i.e., wheezing)
    3. Cardiovascular (i.e., hypotension)
    4. Gastrointestinal (i.e., vomiting or diarrhea)
    5. End-organ dysfunction

Management of anaphylaxis requires proper evaluation of the patient’s airway, respiratory status, and hemodynamics (“ABCs”).  Mainstays of therapy are intramuscular epinephrine (0.3mg in adults) and IV hydration.  Administration of epinephrine is a time sensitive and life-saving intervention.  Antihistamines, nebulized albuterol or salbutamol, and steroids are additional therapies that are commonly given.  Steroids are thought to prevent recurrent anaphylactic reactions, however, there is little data to support this.  Patients are typically monitored for 4-6 hours after administration of epinephrine to observe for changes in clinical status or the need for additional doses of epinephrine.  Patients who remain stable or improve after this observation period are able to be discharged home with a prescription for an epinephrine injector in the event of future anaphylaxis episodes. 

Intravenous normal saline (Choice A) and diphenhydramine (Choice B) are important therapies to administer in this patient, but intramuscular epinephrine (Choice C) is the most time-sensitive initial therapy to administer.  Without treatment, airway edema may progress and require endotracheal intubation (Choice D).  The patient’s clear voice and lack of stridor indicate that the patient does not need immediate intubation. 

Correct Answer: C

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #52," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, August 27, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/08/27/question-of-the-day-52/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #51

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

This patient is in a shock state caused by left-sided pyelonephritis.

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.  The chart below details the categories of shock, each category’s hemodynamics, potential causes, and treatments.   

The patient’s signs, symptoms, physical exam, and urine studies point towards an infectious etiology.  This patient is in septic shock, which is considered a type of distributive shock (Choice B).  Hypovolemic shock (Choice A), obstructive shock (Choice C), and cardiogenic shock (Choice D) are caused by other conditions reflected in the above table. 

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #51," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, August 20, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/08/20/question-of-the-day-51/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Question Of The Day #50

question of the day

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

This patient presents to the Emergency Department with altered mental status.  This presenting symptom can be due to a large variety of etiologies, including hypoglycemia, sepsis, toxic ingestions, electrolyte abnormalities, stroke, and more.  The management and evaluation of a patient with altered mental status depends on the primary assessment of the patient (“ABCs”, or Airway, Breathing, Circulation) to identify any acute life-threatening conditions that need to be managed emergently, the history, and the physical examination.  One mnemonic that may help in remembering the many causes of altered mental status is “AEIOUTIPS”.  The table below outlines this mnemonic.

ALTERED MENTAL STATUS

This patient arrives hyperthermic, tachycardic in atrial fibrillation, diaphoretic, and altered with psychotic behavior.  Thyroid storm, the most severe manifestation of hyperthyroidism, should always be on the differential diagnosis in patients with fever and altered mental status.  Other considerations are sepsis, sympathomimetic overdose, anticholinergic overdose, serotonin syndrome, and pheochromocytoma. 

This patient has thyroid storm, a life-threatening endocrine emergency that requires prompt recognition and treatment.  Symptoms of thyroid storm include altered mental status, psychosis, seizures, coma, tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, high-output heart failure, dyspnea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anterior neck enlargement.  Severe hyperthyroidism should have a low-undetectable TSH level with elevated T3/T4 levels, but in acute illness these levels may be unreliable.  For this reason, the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid storm should be based on clinical grounds.

An anticholinergic toxidrome can appear similar to this patient with tachycardia, hypertension, agitation, and altered mental status.  A key differentiating factor is diaphoresis.  Patients with anticholinergic ingestions should have dry skin, not wet skin. The treatment for anticholinergic toxicity is benzodiazepines and IV physostigmine (Choice A) if symptoms are unresponsive to benzodiazepines.  Physostigmine is not the best next step in this scenario. 

Treatment of thyroid storm is algorithmic.  First, beta blockade (Choice C) should be given to control the heart rate and block T4 to T3 conversion, next anti-thyroid medications (Methimazole or Propylthiouracil (Choice D)) should be given to block thyroid hormone synthesis, and lastly corticosteroids and inorganic iodine (Choice B) can be given to block release of stored thyroid hormone.  The best next step in managing this patient with thyroid storm is administration of IV Propranolol (Choice C).  Propranolol helps manage the tachycardia, systemic symptoms, and also inhibits conversion of T4 to T3. 

 Correct Answer: C

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #50," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, August 13, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/08/13/question-of-the-day-50/, date accessed: October 22, 2021

Defibrillator: Clear!

Defibrillator clear

So, this is your first day at your internship rotation in the Emergency Department. You see some movement in the resuscitation room, and someone shouts: CODE!

Then, you approach the team, excited to learn and help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The attending physician looks at you and asks: Do you know how to use the defibrillator?

What would your answer be?

Knowing the main functions of the defibrillator is essential but not enough; you need to get used to the model in your hospital to be able to help safely with an emergency.

Defibrillators are devices used to apply electrical energy manually or automatically. Their use is indicated for electrical cardioversion, defibrillation or as a transcutaneous pacemaker.

Later that day, another patient presents with unstable atrial fibrillation (AFib).

The attending suggests cardioverting the patient. Do you know how to prepare the defibrillator?

Defibrillation versus cardioversion

Both defibrillation and cardioversion are techniques in which an electrical current is applied to the patient, through a defibrillator, to reverse a cardiac arrhythmia.

Defibrillation

Defibrillation is a non-synchronized electrical discharge applied to the chest, which aims to depolarize all myocardial muscle fibres, thus literally restarting the heart, allowing the sinoatrial node to resume the generation and control of the heart rhythm, and reversing the severe arrhythmias. It is indicated for pulseless ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation during CPR.

Electrical Cardioversion

Electrical cardioversion is the application of shock in a synchronized way to ensure the electric discharge is released in the R wave, that is, in the refractory period because accidental delivery of the shock during the vulnerable period, that is, the T wave, can trigger VF. It is reserved for severe arrhythmias in unstable patients with a pulse. It can usually be an elective procedure.

Special Situations

Digital Intoxication

Digital intoxication can present with any type of tachyarrhythmia or bradyarrhythmia. Cardioversion in this situation is a relative contraindication, as digital makes the heart sensitive to electrical stimulation. Before considering cardioversion, correct all electrolyte imbalances, otherwise, the cardioversion can degenerate the rhythm to a VF.

Pacemaker / Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)

Cardioversion can be performed, but with care. The inadequate technique can damage the generator, the conductive system, or the heart muscle, leading to dysfunction of the device. The blades must be positioned at least 12 cm away from the generator, preferably in the anteroposterior position. The lowest possible electrical charge must be used.

Pregnancy

Cardioversion can be used safely during pregnancy. The fetal beat should be monitored throughout the procedure.

Things To Consider

Keep your devices tested!

Working in the ED is not easy. This is the place where organization and preparation should be routine. Constant checking of materials and operation of the equipment must be the rule because the smallest detail can cause a difference in saving a life.

During adversity, it is necessary to remain calm, trying to not affect the reasoning and disposition of the team. It is an arduous job, it takes practice and a lot of effort. Errors can only be corrected after they are recognized and must have the right time to be exposed. It happens.

There is no time for despair, yelling and stress when it comes to CPR.

No conductive gel, what can we do?

The main guidelines regarding the use of the conductive gel used in the defibrillator paddles are:

  • Using the proper gel for this purpose is essential. The gel is an electrically conductive material that decreases the resistance to the flow of electric current between the paddle and the chest wall. The absence of conductive material can lead to the production of an arc that causes burns in the patient and the risk of explosion if there is an oxygen source very close, among others.
  • Avoid the use of gauze soaked in saline solution, as the excess serum can cause burns on the patient’s skin, but it is a reasonable option, in an emergency
  • Do not use the ultrasound gel
  • The preference is to use adhesive paddles that already come with their own conductive gel (but this is rare in Brazil).

Location recommended by Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

Antero-lateral

One paddle is placed on the right side of the sternum, right below the clavicle and the other laterally where the cardiac appendix would be in the anterior or medial axillary line (V5-V6).

Adhesive paddles can also be placed in an anteroposterior position: The anterior one is placed in the cardiac appendage or precordial region, and the posterior one is placed on the back in the right or left infrascapular region.

During the shock, the provider must ensure that no one is in contact with the patient. A force of approximately 8k must be used to increase the contact of the paddles with the chest. Do not allow a continuous flow of oxygen over the patient’s chest to avoid accidents with sparks.

Complications

  • Electric arc (when electricity travels through the air between the electrodes and can cause explosive noises, burns and impair current delivery)
  • Electrical injuries in spectators
  • Risk of explosion if there is a continuous flow of oxygen during the shock
  • Burning of the skin by repeated shocks
  • Myocardial injury and post-defibrillation arrhythmias and myocardial stunning
  • Skeletal muscle injury
  • Fracture of thoracic vertebrae

References and Further Reading

  1. Sunde, K., Jacobs, I., Deakin, C. D., Hazinski, M. F., Kerber, R. E., Koster, R. W., Morrison, L. J., Nolan, J. P., Sayre, M. R., & Defibrillation Chapter Collaborators (2010). Part 6: Defibrillation: 2010 international consensus on cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care science with treatment recommendations. Resuscitation81 Suppl 1, e71–e85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resuscitation.2010.08.025
  2. Panchal, A. R., Bartos, J. A., Cabañas, J. G., Donnino, M. W., Drennan, I. R., Hirsch, K. G., Kudenchuk, P. J., Kurz, M. C., Lavonas, E. J., Morley, P. T., O’Neil, B. J., Peberdy, M. A., Rittenberger, J. C., Rodriguez, A. J., Sawyer, K. N., Berg, K. M., & Adult Basic and Advanced Life Support Writing Group (2020). Part 3: Adult Basic and Advanced Life Support: 2020 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation142(16_suppl_2), S366–S468. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000916
  3. Ionmhain, U. N. (2020). Defibrillation Basics. Life in The Fastlane. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from https://litfl.com/defibrillation-basics/
  4. Paradis, N. A., Halperin, H. R., Kern, K. B., Wenzel, V., & Chamberlain, D. A. (Eds.). (2007). Cardiac arrest: the science and practice of resuscitation medicine. Cambridge University Press.
  5. Nickson, C. (2020). Defibrillation Pads and Paddles. Life in The Fastlane. Retrieved April 26, 2020, from https://litfl.com/defibrillation-pads-and-paddles/
Cite this article as: Jule Santos, Brasil, "Defibrillator: Clear!," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, August 9, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/08/09/defibrillator-clear/, date accessed: October 22, 2021