Question Of The Day #68

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

This elderly man presents to the Emergency Department after a mechanical fall down the stairs with left flank pain.  He is on anticoagulation.  His chest X-ray shows 3 lower rib fractures.  The diagnosis of rib fractures is clinical in conjunction with imaging.  A history of rib trauma with pleuritic chest pain, tenderness over the ribs, and skin ecchymoses over the chest all support a diagnosis of rib fracture.  Chest X-ray is often performed as an initial test, but it should be noted that about 50% of rib fractures are not able to be visualized on chest radiography alone.  Bedside ultrasonography and CT scanning are more sensitive in detecting rib fractures than plain radiography.  Treatment for rib fractures is mainly supportive and includes pain management and incentive spirometry (or regular deep inspiratory breaths) to prevent the development of atelectasis or pneumonia as complications.  Many patients with rib fractures can be discharged home with these supportive measures.

Another important part of rib fracture management is evaluation for the complications or sequalae of rib fractures.  This includes pulmonary contusion, pneumonia, atelectasis, flail chest, traumatic pneumothorax or tension pneumothorax, hemothorax, and abdominal viscus injuries.  Elderly patients with multiple rib fractures are more likely to have poor outcomes and should be admitted for close observation.  Admission to the hospital for pain management (Choice A) may be needed in this case, but it is not the best next step.  Placement of a chest tube (Choice C) is not needed in this case as there are no signs of a pneumothorax.  Incentive spirometry (Choice D) is important to prevent atelectasis or pneumonia, but it is not the best next step.  The presence of multiple lower rib fractures (ribs #9-12) as seen in this case should prompt evaluation for abdominal injuries, such as hepatic or splenic lacerations.  Potential abdominal injuries should be of greater concern since this patient is on anticoagulation for his atrial fibrillation.  The best next step is a CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis (Choice B).

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #68," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, December 17, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/12/17/question-of-the-day-68/, date accessed: December 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #67

question of the day
SS Video 2  Large Pericardial Effusion

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

This patient arrives in the Emergency Department after sustaining penetrating chest trauma and is found to be hypotensive, tachycardic, and with a low oxygen saturation on room air. The first step in evaluating any trauma patient involves the primary survey.  The primary survey is also known as the “ABCDEFs” of trauma.  This stands for Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure, and FAST exam (Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma).  Each letter should be assessed in alphabetical order to avoid missing a time sensitive life-threatening condition.  The primary survey should be conducted prior to taking a full history.  After the primary survey, a more detailed physical exam (secondary survey) is conducted, followed by interventions and a focused patient history. 

The FAST exam is a quick sonographic exam that requires the practitioner to look at 4 anatomical areas for signs of internal injuries.  The 4 areas are the right upper abdominal quadrant, left upper abdominal quadrant, pelvis, and subxiphoid (cardiac) areas.  The addition of views for each lung (1 view for each lung) is known as an E-FAST, or extended FAST exam.  The presence of an anechoic (black) stripe on ultrasound indicates the presence of free fluid.  In the setting of trauma, free fluid is assumed to be blood.  The presence of free fluid on a FAST exam is considered a “positive FAST exam”.   This patient’s ultrasound shows fluid in the pericardiac sac which in combination with the patient’s hypotension and tachycardia, this supports a diagnosis of cardiac tamponade.  See the image below for labelling.

Cardiac tamponade is considered a type of obstructive shock.  As with other types of obstructive shock, such as pulmonary embolism and tension pneumothorax, there is a state of reduced preload and elevated afterload.  This causes a reduction in cardiac output (Choice C) which leads to hypotension, tachycardia, and circulatory collapse.  High cardiac preload (Choice A), low cardiac afterload (Choice B), and high cardiac output (Choice D) do not occur in cardiac tamponade.  Treatment for cardiac tamponade includes IV hydration to increase preload, bedside pericardiocentesis, and ultimately, a surgical cardiac window performed by cardiothoracic surgery. Correct Answer: C

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #67," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, December 10, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/12/10/question-of-the-day-67/, date accessed: December 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #66

question of the day
40.1 - Pneumothorax 1

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

This man presents to the Emergency Department with pleuritic chest pain, shortness of breath after a penetrating chest injury. He has tachypnea and low oxygen saturation on exam, but he is not hypotensive or tachycardic.  The first step in evaluating any trauma patient involves the primary survey.  The primary survey is also known as the “ABCDEFs” of trauma.  This stands for Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure, and FAST exam (Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma).  Each letter should be assessed in alphabetical order to avoid missing a time sensitive life-threatening condition.  The primary survey should be conducted prior to taking a full history.  After the primary survey, a more detailed physical exam (secondary survey) is conducted, followed by interventions and a focused patient history. 

This patient should immediately be given supplemental oxygen for his low oxygen saturation.  The history of penetrating chest trauma and hypoxemia also should raise concern for a traumatic pneumothorax, and oxygen supplementation is part of the treatment for all pneumothoraces.  The patient’s chest X-ray shows a large left sided pneumothorax indicated by the absence of left sided lung markings.  There is some left to right deviation of the heart and the primary bronchi.  There is no large left sided pleural effusion in the costodiaphragmatic recess to indicate a pneumo-hemothorax.  There is also no deviation of the trachea, hypotension, or tachycardia to indicate a tension pneumothorax (Choice B).  The patient is hemodynamically stable, so he cannot be in hemorrhagic shock (Choice A) or have cardiac tamponade (Choice C).  Although the pneumothorax is large with mild deviation of the heart, the lack of hemodynamic instability supports the diagnosis of a traumatic non-tension pneumothorax (Choice D).  The treatment for this would include 100% oxygen supplementation and placement of a chest tube.  A CT scan of the chest is more sensitive imaging test than a chest X-ray and should be considered to evaluate for additional injuries (blood vessel injuries, rib fractures, etc.). Correct Answer: D

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #66," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, December 3, 2021, https://iem-student.org/2021/12/03/question-of-the-day-66/, date accessed: December 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #20

question of the day
cod20
608 - Figure3 - pericardial effusion - ECG

Which of the following is the most appropriate next investigation for this patient’s condition?

This patient’s EKG demonstrates alternating amplitudes of QRS complexes, a phenomenon known as electrical alternans. This is caused by the heart swinging back and forth within a large pericardial effusion. The patient is tachycardic and borderline hypotensive, which should raise concern over impending cardiac tamponade. The next best investigation to definitively diagnose a large pericardial effusion with possible tamponade would be a cardiac sonogram (Choice B). This investigation could also guide treatment with pericardiocentesis in the event of hemodynamic decompensation and the development of obstructive shock. Other EKG signs of a large pericardial effusion are diffusely low QRS voltages and sinus tachycardia. Chest radiography (Choice C) may show an enlarged cardiac silhouette in this case and evaluate for alternative diagnoses (i.e. pneumothorax, pleural effusions, pneumonia, atelectasis), however, cardiac echocardiography is the best next investigation. CT pulmonary angiography (Choice D) would demonstrate the presence of a pericardial effusion along with differences in cardiac chamber size indicative of tamponade. Still, bedside cardiac sonogram is a faster test that prevents a delay in diagnosis. Sending a potentially unstable patient for a CT scan may also be dangerous. Arterial blood gas testing (Choice A) has no role in diagnosing pericardial effusion or cardiac tamponade. Correct Answer: B

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #20," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, November 6, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/11/06/question-of-the-day-20/, date accessed: December 7, 2022

Question Of The Day #19

question of the day
qod19
52 - Perforated Viscus

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

All patients who present to the emergency department with chest pain should be evaluated for the top life-threatening conditions causing chest pain. Some of these include myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, esophageal rupture, tension pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, and aortic dissection. Many of these diagnoses can be ruled-out or deemed less likely with a detailed history, physical exam, EKG, and sometimes imaging and blood testing. This patient presents with vague, burning chest pain, nausea, and tachycardia on exam. Pulmonary embolism (Choice A) is hinted by the patient’s tachycardia, but the patient has no tachypnea or risk factors mentioned for PE. Additionally, the chest X-ray findings demonstrate an abnormality that can explain the patient’s symptoms. Pancreatitis (Choice B) and Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (Choice D) are also possible diagnoses, especially with the location and description of the patient’s pain. However, Chest X-ray imaging offers an explanation for the patient’s symptoms. The patient’s Chest X-ray demonstrates the presence of pneumoperitoneum. In the presence of NSAID use, this radiological finding raises concern over a perforated viscus from advanced peptic ulcer disease (Choice C). Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is most commonly caused by Helicobacter pylori infection, but NSAIDs, iron supplements, alcohol, cocaine, corrosive substance ingestions, and local infections can cause PUD. PUD is a clinical diagnosis which can be confirmed visually via endoscopy. The treatment for PUD includes initiation of a proton pump inhibitor (H2-receptor blockers are 2nd line), avoiding the inciting agent, and H.pylori antibiotic regimens in confirmed H.pylori cases. The treatment for a perforated peptic ulcer with pneumoperitoneum is IV fluids, IV antibiotics, Nasogastric tube placement, and surgical consultation for repair.

References

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #19," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 30, 2020, https://iem-student.org/2020/10/30/question-of-the-day-18-2/, date accessed: December 7, 2022

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