Usefulness of the Pelvic Examination in 1st Trimester Vaginal Bleeding

16 Oct
October 16, 2017

Background: First trimester vaginal bleeding is a common complaint seen in the emergency department.  Patients are obviously stressed about the possibility of miscarriage while providers are stressed about missing diagnoses such as ectopic pregnancies.  There have been multiple studies questioning the interrater reliability of the pelvic examination. A more important question however, is does the pelvic examination provide any benefit to these patients by enhancing management and decreasing morbidity? Read more →

Acute Pancreatitis

12 Oct
October 12, 2017

Acute Pancreatitis Background:

Definition: Acute inflammatory process of the pancreas; a retroperitoneal organ with endocrine and exocrine function.

Epidimiology (Rosen’s 2018)

  • US Incidence: 5 – 40/100,000
  • Mortality: 4-7%
  • Progression to severe disease: 10-15% of cases (mortality in this subset 20-50%)


  • Alcohol (~ 35% of cases)
  • Gallstones (~ 45% of cases)
  • Medications/toxins
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Non-gallstone Obstruction (i.e. strictures, masses)
  • Trauma
  • Infectious


  • Phase 1: Local inflammation
    • Results from obstruction of the pancreatic or bile ducts or direct toxicity to pancreatic cells
    • Inflammation results in pancreatic enzyme activation within the pancreas and ducts
    • Premature enzyme activation leads to pancreatic autodigestion
  • Phase 2
    • Enzyme digestion leads to necrosis of the pancreas
    • Erosion into vascular structures can occur as well leading to hemorrhage
  • Phase 3
    • Release of systemic inflammatory mediators
    • systemic immune response syndrome and multisystem organ dysfunction (i.e. acute renal failure, cardiac dysfunction, ARDS, disseminated intravascular coagulation)

Read more →

Do Patients with Opioid Dependence Benefit from Buprenorphine/Naloxone Treatment Initiation in the Emergency Department?

09 Oct
October 9, 2017

Background: North America’s current opioid crisis, much of it iatrogenic (2), has led to significant increases in ED visits associated with opioids (3). These patients often present after poisoning, in withdrawal, or with other health issues associated with their disease.

It is well accepted that Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT), namely, methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone, are successful harm reduction agents shown to improve health and social outcomes (4). Several individual providers, and even large academic institutions, have started initiating ORT, specifically buprenorphine/naloxone, in the ED when dependent patients present in withdrawal.

D’Onofrio et al., in 2015, published outcomes after 30-days from a clinical trial of patients who met criteria for opioid dependence in the ED that were randomized to one of three interventions: referral, brief intervention or ED-initiated buprenorphine followed by 10 weeks of continued buprenorphine treatment in a primary care setting (5). They found that patients receiving ED initiated buprenorphine with continuation in primary care were more likely to be engaged in formal addiction treatment at 30 days (p < 0.001). More recently, they have published follow-up outcomes on a subset from the original study at 2, 6 and 12 months. Read more →

Topical Pain Control for Corneal Abrasions

05 Oct
October 5, 2017

Corneal abrasions account for 10% of all ocular complaints, and are the most common cause of ocular trauma (Alotaibi 2011, Bhatia 2013).  The diagnosis of corneal abrasions typically involves fluorescein staining of the eye and visualization of the abrasion via slit lamp exam. This review focuses specifically on pain control for corneal abrasions.

Although corneal abrasions typically heal within 24-72 hours without complications, the pain in the acute phase is usually significant (Wilson 2004).  Treatments described include patching, topical anesthetics, topical NSAIDS, cycloplegics or oral analgesics.  Utilization of topical anesthetics has been described in a previous post.  Oral analgesics are usually prescribed as a rescue modality when topical treatment is ineffective at managing pain.  Read more →

The YEARS Study – Simplified Diagnostic Approach to PE

28 Sep
September 28, 2017

Background: The clinical diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) can be challenging given its variable presentation, requiring dependence on objective testing. Decision instruments such as PERC and the Wells’ score help stratify patients to low or high probability, enabling focused use of CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) for diagnosis. However, despite these algorithms, there is evidence of increasing use of CTPA along with diminishing diagnostic rate (less than 10%). This combination results in the overdiagnosis of subsegmental PEs, unnecessary exposure to radiation, false positive results and the potential for contrast-induced nephropathy. The YEARS study aims to present a simplified algorithm for evaluation with a two-tiered D-dimer threshold to reduce the numbers of CTPA in all age groups. Read more →

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