Author Archive for: Swami

Should We Use Skin Glue to Secure Peripheral IVs?

07 Apr
April 7, 2016

v2 Peripheral IVsBackground: 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 →

Xanthochromia Detection: Visual Inspection vs. Spectrophotometry

25 Jan
January 25, 2016

XanthochromiaBackground: 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 →

Clinical Decision Instruments in Minor Head Trauma – New Orleans + Canadian Decision Instruments

18 Jan
January 18, 2016

Clinical Decision InstrumentsBackground: 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 →

Classic Journal Review: The OPALS Study

14 Jan
January 14, 2016


The Ontario Prehospital Advanced Life Support (OPALS) Study

Background: Sudden cardiac arrest is common and, obviously, very bad. In the US, there are about 500,000 cardiac arrests each year. About half of these cardiac arrests are OHCA and the survival rate is pretty poor. The most recent survival estimates put it at 7 – 9.5% in most communities. About 10-12 years ago, the American Heart Association built the 4-step “chain-of-survival.”

  • Step One – Early access to emergency care
  • Step Two – Early CPR
  • Step Three – Early defibrillation

There is little debate about these three steps as the sum of the data supports that they lead to better outcomes.

The 4th step in the chain, however, is slightly more controversial; early advanced care. This basically means rapid access to ACLS type resuscitation skills (intubation and intravenous drug therapy). Despite it being the 4th step, ACLS has little evidence to defend it.  Read more →

The Role of TEE in Cardiac Arrest

04 Jan
January 4, 2016

TEEBackground: Sudden cardiac arrest has very poor outcomes; less than 11% of patients in cardiac arrest in the Emergency Department survive to discharge from the hospital. The management of cardiac arrest is algorithmic because providers have limited tools at their disposal and limited knowledge of the patient’s past medical history. EKG is limited in its evaluation of cardiac function. Pulses are often difficult to palpate. The blood pressure cuff is often unreliable. As a result, there is a sense of futility when running resuscitations.

Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in the Emergency Department gave providers another tool to help guide management through direct visualization of cardiac activity, tamponade physiology, right heart strain, etc . It also offers prognostic value if there is no cardiac activity upon arrival to the Emergency Department on TTE, there is a near 0% chance of survival. However, TTE has its limitations: obesity, emphysema, poor windows, interrupts compressions, gel gets everywhere.

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) provides significant benefits when compared to TTE in the management of cardiac arrest in the emergency department. Read more →

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