Background: Airway management is a critical part of the management of patients presenting with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Emergency Physicians (EPs) have no ability to change the primary injury once it has occurred and so our focus is on preventing secondary brain injury. Hypoxemia and hypercarbia are major contributors to morbidity and mortality and management must focus on preventing them. Patients with TBI and depressed mental status frequently require definitive airway management in order to avoid these secondary insults. Rapid sequence intubation (RSI) with serial administration of a neuromuscular blocking agent (NMBA) and an induction agent is common practice. The most commonly used NMBAs are the depolarizing agent succinylcholine and the non-depolarizing agent rocuronium. There are strong proponents arguing for the dominance of one agent over the other based on qualities of the drugs but scant data investigating the question has led to clinical equipoise. Read more →
Author Archive for: Swami
Background: Irrigation after incision and drainage (I&D) of an abscess in the ED is considered by some sources to be standard care but local practice varies considerably. There are no randomized controlled trials to date that look at the potential benefits of this procedure. Irrigation increases the time required for the procedure and increases pain experienced by the patient. Read more →
Background: Peripheral venous cannulation is the most frequently performed procedure in the Emergency Department (ED). The vast majority of patients admitted to the hospital will leave the ED with an intravenous catheter (IV). While these devices typically have a “life-span” of 72 hours from placement, they often fail prematurely as a result of infection, phlebitis, occlusion or dislodgement. IV dislodgement is a particular bane to emergency providers and nurses because it often occurs during the patient’s ED stay requiring repeated cannulation and the associated expenditure of time and resources not to mention the additional pain/discomfort to the patient. Inadequate fixation of the catheter is a likely cause of dislodgement but may also contribute to infection and phlebitis due to small movements leading to microtrauma to the vein.
Medical-grade skin glue (cyanoacrylate) has been demonstrated to reduce peripheral arterial line failure rate in prior studies but has not been extensively studied for peripheral IV securing. Read more →
Background: Although non-contrast head CT (NCHCT) has near perfect sensitivity (98-100%) in detecting aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) when performed within 6 hours of headache onset, sensitivity declines after 6 hours. As a result of declining sensitivity, lumbar puncture (LP) continues to be part of the workup in suspected SAH. An LP gives providers the ability to perform CSF analysis for red blood cells and detect xanthochromia by visual inspection or spectrophotometry. In most of the world, including the United States, the predominant approach to identifying xanthochromia is visual detection. However, this technique is subjective and considered unreliable by many. Spectrophotometry is a more objective test but, has lower specificity, carries a higher cost and is unavailable in the majority of hospitals.
In patients with SAH diagnosed by NCHCT or suspected based on LP results, angiography (CTA or MRA) is typically performed to investigate for an aneurysm that requires neurosurgical intervention. Angiography is considered to be the “gold standard” test for looking for aneurysmal SAH although it is not without it’s own limitations (a small minority of the population will have benign aneurysms and these increase with age). Read more →
Background: CT scans are frequently done after minor head injury to evaluate for intracranial hemorrhage. While CT scans are an excellent tool for diagnosing or ruling out this disorder, they are not without harms including radiation exposure, cost and department delays. Much of the time, CTs are negative, or find injuries for which no intervention is ever done and do not clinically affect the patient. Clinical Decision Instruments may aid clinicians in determining which patients are higher risk and require imaging and which do not. Read more →