Cricoid Pressure in Airway Management: The IRIS Trial

15 Nov
November 15, 2018

Background: Cricoid pressure is dead, right? Many have made this claim including a brilliant argument against its use by John Hinds here. Despite the many eulogies, we continue to hear about cricoid pressure so it makes sense that we dive in to the background prior to addressing the recent JAMA Surgery publication.

Cricoid pressure was first described by Dr. Sellick in the 1960’s though similar techniques were described as far back as the 1770s (Sellick 1961). The Sellick’s maneuver entailed the application of pressure over the cricoid cartilage with the thumb and 1-2 additional fingers.  The goal was to compress the cricoid cartilage against the esophagus in order to occlude the esophagus and prevent regurgitation of stomach contents into the upper airway. Initial studies on the maneuver suffered from a bevy of methodological flaws including small n, lack of blinding or randomization and selection bias. Despite this, Sellick’s maneuver was widely adopted and taught to hordes of anesthesia, critical care and emergency residents.

Studies investigating cricoid pressure in the last decade have demonstrated a number of issues with claims that it can prevent passive regurgitation. Check out this free chapter on EMRAP for an in depth discussion. Dynamic MRI studies demonstrate that application of pressure to the cricoid cartilage displaces the esophagus laterally instead of occluding it (Smith 2003, Boet 2012). An ultrasound study demonstrated similar findings: in 60% of patients the esophagus was lateral to the airway and cricoid pressure led to displacement rather than occlusion in all patients. (Tsung 2012).

Additionally, application of cricoid pressure decreases airway patency and increases the chance that your view of the airway will be obscured. (Allman 1995, Palmer 2000, Smith 2002, Oh 2013). Finally, no study to date has demonstrated a reduction in aspiration episodes with the application of cricoid pressure. A large observational study of pregnant patients undergoing C-sections found no difference in aspiration events and that the overall aspiration event rate was low (Fenton 2009). However, up until this point, there has not been a high-quality, randomized controlled trial performed. Read more →

Today I Learned: A Daily Dose of #FOAMed 1.0

12 Nov
November 12, 2018

In October 2016, I was exposed to the vast world of Free Open Access Medical Education and MedTwitter. I was astounded and inspired by the different educators who were trying to make learning easier. The Knowledge Translation (KT) gap was being vastly shortened by some very smart people who took to social media to educate the rest of the world. Although there were knowledge bombs in all areas of medicine, I was particularly drawn to the ones most relevant to emergency medicine and critical care.

Each day in 2017, I used Twitter to share a few pearls with the world as my contribution to #FOAMed. I included the hashtag #TodayILearned (Today I Learned) so I could keep track of them to use for future projects. Here are just a few of those pearls:

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Dual Sequential Defibrillation (DSD)

08 Nov
November 8, 2018

Background: In the United States 424,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests occur per year with a 10.4% overall survival rate.1 Refractory Ventricular Fibrillation (RVF) is a complication of cardiac arrest and has varying definitions in the literature but is commonly defined as ventricular fibrillation that does not respond to, or resists, three or more defibrillation attempts.2,3Although the estimated incidence of refractory ventricular fibrillation is 0.5-0.6 per 100,000 of the population, some authors report that 10-25% of cardiac arrest cases could develop RVF or recurrent VF.3-5 Patients who experience RVF during their cardiac arrest have a mortality of up to 97%.6,7 Several case reports have shown success with excellent neurologic outcomes in terminating RVF using dual defibrillation after failure of traditional Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) measures.8-12 It is important to note and distinguish that dual defibrillation can either be simultaneous or sequential depending on the duration of the defibrillation potential as well as the intershock interval between the two defibrillator shocks.9-13 The terms “sequential” and “simultaneous” are often used interchangably due to the lack of accurately measuring pulse intervals when performing dual defibrillation in the actual clinical environment. The authors of this review utilize the term dual sequential defibrillation (DSD). They present a case of RVF in a patient with cardiac arrest, on whom DSD was successful in reversion to sinus rhythm and provide a thorough review of similar cases in the literature. Read more →

REBEL Cast Ep60: COMBAT and PAMPer – Prehospital Plasma in Trauma

05 Nov
November 5, 2018

Background: Care of trauma patients with severe bleeding has advanced in recent years with a focus on damage control resuscitation which includes permissive hypotension, hemostatic resuscitation (blood component resuscitation), and hemorrhage control. Minimizing crystalloids in favor of blood component-based resuscitation in the prehospital setting has the potential to reduce downstream complications by intervening closer to the time of injury before the development of coagulopathy, irreversible shock, and inflammatory response.  There is a paucity of high level evidence showing the efficacy and safety of plasma transfusions in the prehospital setting including retrospective studies which suffered from survivor bias (patients had to survive long enough to receive plasma) and small randomized clinical trials not showing survival benefit.  This has led to the publication of two randomized controlled trials: COMBAT and PAMPer. Read more →

Information Overload: Drinking from the Firehose

01 Nov
November 1, 2018

Background: Keeping up to date with the current literature is no small task.  You may say it is like drinking from a firehose when you’re thirsty;  it can be painful and, at the end, does it really quench our thirst?  The constant influx of new published research makes it difficult to stay current with the latest and greatest (information overload).  At REBEL EM we have been committed to critical appraisal of current research with application at the bedside to improve patient care.  In this post, I hope to give everyone a step by step guide on how to keep up to date in an efficient manner. Read more →