Question Of The Day #17

question of the day

Which of the following is the most likely cause for the patient’s elevated cardiac troponin level in the emergency department?

Elevated cardiac troponin levels, or troponinemia, are one sign that the myocardium may be infarcting or under some type of stressful condition. Cardiac troponin levels are assessed in conjunction with the clinical history, physical exam, EKG, and another laboratory testing in deciding if troponinemia is due to cardiac ischemia or another condition. Conditions associated with elevated cardiac troponin levels include cardiac ischemia (i.e. STEMI, NSTEMI), cardiac contusion, cardiac procedures, congestive heart failure, renal failure, aortic dissection, tachy- or bradyarrhythmias, rhabdomyolysis with cardiac injury, Takotsubo syndrome, pulmonary embolism, acute stroke, myocarditis, sepsis, severe burns, extreme exertion, and other conditions. It is unlikely that this patient had elevated troponin levels from Acute coronary syndrome (Choice D) as her cardiac catheterization results showed no significant occlusive lesions in the coronary arteries. D-Dimer levels do increase with patient age, but cardiac troponin levels do not increase with patient age (Choice B). Sepsis (Choice C) is a cause for elevated troponin levels, but this patient has no clinical signs or sepsis symptoms. Atrial fibrillation with a rapid rate (Choice A) is the most likely cause of this patient’s elevated troponin level. Correct Answer: A 


Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #17," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 16, 2020,, date accessed: July 2, 2022

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Question Of The Day #16

question of the day

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

This patient sustained a penetrating traumatic injury to the left chest and presented to the emergency department with hemodynamic instability (tachycardic and hypotensive). Some differential diagnoses to consider on arrival include tension pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, aortic injury, or aero-digestive tract injury. Prior to taking a detailed history on any trauma patient, a primary survey should be performed. The goal of the primary survey in a trauma patient is to identify and treat any life-threatening injuries as soon as possible. The primary survey is also known as the “ABCs.” Sometimes it is referred to as the “ABCDEFs.” This acronym stands for Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure, and FAST exam (How to learn eFAST exam for free). Each letter is addressed and assessed in the order they exist in the alphabet. This creates a methodical, algorithmic approach to assist the practitioner in assessing the trauma patient for life-threatening injuries. The sonographic view shown in this question is the subxiphoid (cardiac) view and demonstrates the presence of free fluid. Free fluid on ultrasound appears black, or “anechoic” and is assumed to be blood in the setting of trauma. The free fluid is highlighted by red stars in the image below. The collapse of the right ventricle is shown by the yellow arrow in the below image.

cardiac tamponade - explained
SS Video 3 Pericardial Tamponade

In conjunction with hemodynamic instability and a history of penetrating chest trauma, this sonographic view strongly supports the diagnosis of cardiac tamponade. Consulting the general surgery team for exploratory laparotomy (Choice A) would be the correct course of action for a patient with hemodynamic instability and free fluid on the other abdominal views of the FAST exam. Needle decompression of the chest (Choice B) would be the correct initial treatment for a tension pneumothorax. The patient described in the case has clear bilateral lung sounds, no tracheal deviation mentioned, normal O2 saturation on room air, and sonographic demonstration of cardiac tamponade. A CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis (Choice D) would be indicated in this patient if he had normal vital signs and no free fluid on the FAST exam. A pericardiocentesis (Choice C) is the most appropriate next step in the management of this patient with cardiac tamponade to relieve signs of obstructive shock. It should be noted that this procedure has limitations and is not always effective. Pericardiocentesis is a temporizing treatment with pericardiotomy being the definitive therapy. Blood in an acute hemopericardium may clot and be unable to be aspirated with a large-bore needle. The procedure may injure surrounding organs, such as the liver, intestines, or heart itself. Ultrasound-guidance should be used whenever possible to avoid injury to surrounding organs. Emergent thoracotomy to relieve the cardiac tamponade should be performed on any patient with confirmed cardiac tamponade and cardiac arrest in the Emergency Department. Correct Answer: C


Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #16," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 9, 2020,, date accessed: July 2, 2022

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Question Of The Day #15

question of the day
qod 15 - pleuritic chest pain

Which of the following is the best course of action to further evaluate for a diagnosis of pulmonary embolism?

Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a potentially lethal diagnosis evaluated by a combination of a thorough history, physical exam, and the use of risk stratification scoring tools. The Wells criteria and the PE rule-out criteria (PERC) are two well-accepted risk stratification tools for PE. These criteria are each listed below (Wieters et al., 2020).

Wells’ Criteria for Pulmonary Embolism

CriteriaPoint Value
Clinical signs and symptoms of DVT+3
PE is #1 diagnosis, or equally likely+3
Heart rate > 100+1.5
Immobilization at least 3 days, or Surgery in the Previous 4 weeks+1.5
Previous, objectively diagnosed PE or DVT+1.5
Malignancy w/ Treatment within 6 mo, or palliative+1
Score >4 = High probability
Score 2–4 = Moderate probability
Score <2 = Low probability

Pulmonary Embolism Rule Out Criteria

All Variables Must Be Present for <2% Chance of PE
Pulse oximetry >94% (room air)
HR <100
No prior PE or DVT
No recent surgery or trauma within prior 4 wk
No hemoptysis
No estrogen use
No unilateral leg swelling
The patient in this clinical vignette would have a Wells score of 1.5 (low risk) due to her persistent tachycardia of unknown etiology. The PERC rule can not be applied to this patient as she is over 50-years-old and has tachycardia. If the patient was low risk on Wells score and meet all the PERC rule criteria, she would have a less than 2% likelihood of her symptoms being due to a PE. It is important to note that only patients with a low-risk Wells score (low pretest probability for PE) can be subjected to the PERC rule. A low-risk Wells score (<2) is investigated with a D-Dimer test (Choice B), while moderate to high-risk Wells scores are investigated with a CT Pulmonary Angiogram (CTPA) (Choice C). A V/Q Scan (Choice A) is not a first-line test for the diagnosis of PE as it is less sensitive than a CTPA scan. Unlike a CTPA scan, a V/Q scan may be nondiagnostic in the setting of lung consolidation, effusions, or other airspace diseases. V/Q scans are second-line tests to CTPA when there are contraindications to a CTPA (i.e., renal failure). Lorazepam (Choice D) is a benzodiazepine that may be helpful in reducing tachycardia, which is secondary to anxiety. However, this therapy does not help further discern if the patient may have a PE. Correct Answer: B 


Wieters J, McDonough J, Catral J. Chest Pain. In: Stone C, Humphries RL. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Emergency Medicine, 8e. McGraw-Hill; Accessed August 17, 2020.

Nickson, C. (2019). Pulmonary Embolism. Life in the Fastlane. Accessed on August 17, 2020.

Cite this article as: Joseph Ciano, USA, "Question Of The Day #15," in International Emergency Medicine Education Project, October 2, 2020,, date accessed: July 2, 2022

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