Triads in Medicine – Rapid Review for Medical Students

triads in medicine

One of the most convenient ways of learning and remembering the main components of disease and identifying a medical condition on an exam are Triads, and medical students/interns/residents swear by them.

Be it a question during rounds, a multiple-choice exam question to be solved, or even in medical practice, the famous triads help physicians recall important characteristics and clinical features of a disease or treatment in an instant.

Since exam season is here, this could serve as a rapid review to recall the most common medical conditions.

While there are a vast number of triads/pentads available online, I have listed the most important (high-yy) ones that every student would be asked about at least once in the duration of their course.

1) Lethal Triad also known as The Trauma Triad of Death
Hypothermia + Coagulopathy + Metabolic Acidosis

2) Beck’s Triad of Cardiac Tamponade
Muffled heart sounds + Distended neck veins + Hypotension

3) Virchow’s Triad – Venous Thrombosis
Hypercoagulability + stasis + endothelial damage

4) Charcot’s Triad – Ascending Cholangitis
Fever with rigors + Right upper quadrant pain + Jaundice

5) Cushing’s Triad – Raised Intracranial Pressure
Bradycardia + Irregular respiration + Hypertension

6) Triad of Ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Severe Abdominal/Back Pain + Hypotension + Pulsatile Abdominal mass

7) Reactive Arthritis
Can’t See (Conjunctivitis) + Can’t Pee (Urethritis) + Can’t Climb a Tree (Arthritis)

8) Triad of Opioid Overdose
Pinpoint pupils + Respiratory Depression + CNS Depression

9) Hakims Triad – Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Gait Disturbance + Dementia + Urinary Incontinence

10) Horner’s Syndrome Triad
Ptosis + Miosis + Anydrosis

11) Mackler’s Triad – Oesophageal Perforation (Boerhaave Syndrome)
Vomiting + Lower Thoracic Pain + Subcutaneous Emphysema

12) Pheochromocytoma
Palpitations + Headache + Perspiration (Diaphoresis)

13) Leriche Syndrome
Buttock claudication + Impotence + Symmetrical Atrophy of bilateral lower extremities

14) Rigler’s Triad – Gallstone ileus
Gallstones + Pneumobilia + Small bowel obstruction

15) Whipple’s Triad – Insulinoma
Hypoglycemic attack + Low glucose + Resolving of the attack on glucose administration

16) Meniere’s Disease
Tinnitus + Vertigo + Hearing loss

17) Wernicke’s Encephalopathy- Thiamine Deficiency
Confusion + Ophthalmoplegia + Ataxia

18) Unhappy Triad – Knee Injury
Injury to Anterior Cruciate Ligament + Medial collateral ligament + Medial or Lateral Meniscus

19) Henoch Schonlein Purpura
Purpura + Abdominal pain + Joint pain

20) Meigs Syndrome
Benign ovarian tumor + pleural effusion + ascites

21) Felty’s Syndrome
Rheumatoid Arthritis + Splenomegaly + Neutropenia

22) Cauda Equina Syndrome
Low back pain + Bowel/Bladder Dysfunction + Saddle Anesthesia

23) Meningitis
Fever + Headache + Neck Stiffness

24) Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome
Delta Waves + Short PR Interval + Wide QRS Complex

25) Neurogenic Shock
Bradycardia + Hypotension + Hypothermia

Further Reading

Cite this article as: Sumaiya Hafiz, UAE, "Triads in Medicine – Rapid Review for Medical Students," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, June 12, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/06/12/triads-in-medicine/, date accessed: July 2, 2022

ELECTRIC SHOCK; Injuries beyond what the eyes see.​

electric shock

Authors: Dr. Nour Saleh and Dr. Kilalo Mjema

Case presentation

A 53-years-old male, sustained burn wounds on both hands 40 minutes prior presentation to the ED

Primary survey

  • Airway: patent and protected.
  • Breathing: bilateral equal air entry
  • Circulation: warm extremities, capillary refill time is 1 second
    • Vitals on presentation
      • BP: 177/114mmHg
      • HR: 115
      • RR: 16
      • SPO2: 96% in room air
      • T: 36.4
  • Disability: alert and oriented, pupils 5mm bilateral equal light reaction, glucose: 7.3mmol
  • Exposure: holding his hands up in pain with some black discoloration

SAMPLE History

  • Sign and symptoms: pain, see pictures
  • Allergy: no known allergies
  • Medications: not on any medication
  • Past medical history: no known comorbid or any significant medical history
    Last meal: he ate about 2.5 hours prior presentation
  • Event: pain on both hands after sustaining burn injury forty minutes prior presentation to the ED while trying to connect two circuits that sparked causing burn wounds on his hands and felt a jolt of electricity.

No history of heartbeat awareness or any loss of consciousness

electrical injury
electrical injury

Interventions and key steps in management

  • Make sure ABCD is checked and there is no critical intervention needed
  • IV access and fluid resuscitation may be considered depending on the case
  • Analgesics: depends on the severity of pain. Fentanyl 50mcg IV stat can be necessary for many patients.
  • Informed consent for procedural sedation for the dressing of the wounds.
  • Sedation: during the dressing of wounds
  • Point-of-care investigations: ECG, Urine dipstick
  • Blood samples for some labs should be taken; Creatinine, CK, Myoglobin, Electrolytes, Calcium, and Troponin
  • Imaging: X-ray if there is a worry for associated fracture
  • Monitor: input of fluids and output of urine to watch for acute kidney injury, compartment syndrome and rhabdomyolysis
  • Do not forget tetanus immunization

Associated injuries

  • Cardiac arrhythmias

    Ventricular fibrillation is the most common. It occurs in 60% of patients with electrical current traveling from one hand to the other.

  • Renal - Rhabdomyolysis

    Massive tissue necrosis may result in acute kidney injury. Labs to check includes; Creatinine, Blood Urea Nitrogen, Total CK, myoglobin.

  • Neurological

    Damage to both central and peripheral nervous systems can occur. The presentation may include weakness or paralysis, respiratory depression, autonomic dysfunction, memory disturbances, loss of consciousness.

  • Skin

    Degree of injury cannot determine the extent of internal damage especially with low voltage injuries. Minor surface burns may co-exist with massive muscle coagulation and necrosis.

  • Musculoskeletal

    Bones have the highest resistance of any body tissues resulting in the greatest amount of heat when exposed to an electrical current. Results in surrounding tissue damage and potentially may lead to periosteal burns, destruction of bone matrix and osteonecrosis.

  • Vascular / Coagulation system

    Due to electrical coagulation of small blood vessels or acute compartment syndrome.

  • Internal organs

    The internal organ injury is not common but when it happens may result serious problems such as bowel perforations leading to polymicrobial infection, sepsis, and death.

Disposition

Admission and discharge decisions of burn patients depend on the patient’s current situation, burn percentage according to body surface area, location of the burn, and complications of burn. Low voltage electrocutions, if they are asymptomatic with normal physical examinations, can be discharged. Discharge precautions regarding burn care and complications should be clearly explained to the patient and relatives.

Further Reading

Cite this article as: Kilalo Mjema, "ELECTRIC SHOCK; Injuries beyond what the eyes see.​," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 2, 2019, https://iem-student.org/2019/10/02/electric-shock-injuries-beyond-what-the-eyes-see-%e2%80%8b/, date accessed: July 2, 2022

A baby with burn!

711 - 2nd degree burn-2

11-month-old baby presented to the ED with a burn after accidental hot tea slippage over her.

Burn is a complicated injury for many reasons. It is severely painful, creates the risk of infection, potential volume loss may create further injuries in vital organs. Although these clinical problems are very important and should be managed appropriately, there is one thing we need to consider while we face with any child with a burn. This is child abuse or neglect. As a young physician, it is better to know and be familiar with this issue now because if you do not know it, you can not suspect it. We will have a post soon about the child abuse and neglect hints.

To learn about burn management, please read below chapter.

Burns by Rahul Goswami

From Experts To Our Students! – Burn Injuries

rahul goswami - burns

Burns chapter written by Rahul Goswami from Singapore is just uploaded to the Website!