Background: Focused use of ultrasound in resuscitation of patients with shock and cardiac arrest has become increasingly embraced in both the emergency department (ED) as well as in the prehospital setting. Application of ultrasound, particularly of echocardiography, has the potential to identify treatable causes of shock and arrest, identify shockable rhythms and identify the presence of mechanical activity. All of these can affect management decisions and, potentially effect outcomes. Recent studies have led to concerns that integration of point of care ultrasound (POCUS) in cardiac arrest increases pauses in compressions. Thus, it is important to establish what POCUS adds to shock and arrest management. Read more →
Author Archive for: Swami
Background: Community acquired pneumonia (CAP), defined as lower bronchial tree infection in a patient that has not been hospitalized in the last 90 days is a commonly diagnosed disease. There are between 2-4 million episodes per year in the US with roughly 500,000 hospital admissions (Rosen’s). Most outpatients are treated with azithromycin (or another macrolide antibiotic) as this drug gives a simple treatment regimen (single drug, simple dosing, short course). However, the efficacy of this regimen has been questioned in recent years as resistance patterns shift. Read more →
Background: In recent years, ketamine use has dramatically increased in the Emergency Department (ED). There are four major indications for the use of ketamine in the ED: analgesia with low dose ketamine (LDK), induction for rapid sequence intubation, procedural sedation and sedation of the agitated patient. A number of relative contraindications for ketamine exist though many of them have been debunked through analysis of the evidence. This includes the dogma that ketamine cannot be used in patients with head trauma (for fear of increasing the ICP) or in patients with hypertension or tachycardia.
One contraindication that persists, though, is that of a history of psychiatric illness. Ketamine is an N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor antagonist and it can produce a broad range of cognitive and behavioral disturbances including psychosis. These disturbances are short-lived in the majority of individuals but there is a fear that ketamine can cause decompensation of psychiatric illness. The ACEP Clinical Policy lists psychiatric illness as an absolute contraindication for dissociative sedation with ketamine (Green 2011). Read more →
Background: Ureteric (renal) colic is a common, painful condition encountered in the Emergency Department (ED). Sustained contraction of smooth muscle in the ureter as a kidney stone passes the length of the ureter leads to pain. The majority of stones will pass spontaneously (i.e. without urologic intervention). For over a decade, calcium channel blockers (i.e. nifedipine) and, more commonly, alpha adrenoreceptor antagonists (i.e. tamsulosin) have been employed in the treatment of ureteral colic for their potential ability to increase stone passage, reduce pain medication use and reduce urologic interventions. These interventions were mostly based on poor methodologic studies and meta-analyses of these flawed studies (Hollingsworth 2016)
Over the past 3-4 years, a small number of higher-quality RCTs have been published (Ferre 2009, Pickard 2015, Furyk 2016). These studies have demonstrated a lack of benefit for routine use of alpha blockers. However, secondary outcomes suggest a possible benefit in larger stones (> 6 mm). In spite of recent multiple studies, the use of alpha blockers remains an area of active debate. Read more →
Background: As with all medications in cardiac arrest (i.e. epinephrine, amiodarone) the benefits of sodium bicarbonate administration have been discussed and debated for decades. While it is clear that sodium bicarbonate can play a role in resuscitation of arrest due to hyperkalemia, it’s role in patients with acidemia resulting from or causing arrest is unclear. In theory, raising the pH may be beneficial but the use of bicarbonate increases serum CO2 which may be deleterious as it creates a respiratory acidosis. Despite the absence of good evidence, sodium bicarbonate continues to be used in non-hyperkalemic cardiac arrest management. Read more →