Author Archive for: Rick Pescatore

D-Dimer in Pregnancy: Limiting Radiation with Pre-test Probability

29 Nov
November 29, 2018

Background: Pulmonary embolism is the leading cause of death in pregnancy and the puerperium – accounting for nearly 20% of maternal deaths in the United States – making rapid and accurate diagnosis critically important for emergency physicians, OB/GYNs, and all who take care of these women on a regular basis. Diagnosis is made more difficult by the frequency of concerning and suggestive signs and symptoms in this population, particularly dyspnea (a common symptom in pregnancy related to an increase in progesterone levels) and tachycardia (as resting heart rate is typically expected to increase by up to 25% in normal pregnancy).

While the use of the D-dimer in conjunction with a low pre-test probability for pulmonary embolism is well-established for ruling out PE in the non-pregnant population, pregnant women were excluded from studies that derived and validated models assessing pretest clinical probability of PE, and no specific tool to assess pretest probability is available in this setting. This lack of a pretest probability assessment tool and the lack of prospective data confirming the safety of ruling out PE on the basis of a negative D-dimer result have limited the adoption of the D-dimer test in pregnant patients. Indeed, the American Thoracic Society guidelines [1] recommend specifically against the use of D-dimer to exclude PE in pregnancy. The DiPEP study, published in the British Journal of Haematology, attempted to add to this literature base [2], and was reviewed here on REBEL EM. The DiPEP authors’ conclusion, that D-dimer should not be recommended for use in the diagnostic work-up of PE in pregnancy, was echoed in our review, however this study was likely fundamentally flawed in that it did not risk stratify patients prior to application of D-dimer testing, a critical step in all validated applications.

Recently, a group of French and Swiss authors published a prospective diagnostic management outcome study for diagnosis of PE in pregnant women that sought to better define the role of D-dimer when paired with pre-test risk stratification. [3] Read more →

Is Macrobid Safe in 1st Trimester Pregnancy?

23 Jul
July 23, 2018

Background: In 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a committee opinion warning against the use of nitrofurantoin (Macrobid) during the first trimester of pregnancy due to the perceived risk of an increased rate of congenital abnormalities with its use (Committee Opinion 2017). While the committee continued to recommend that nitrofurantoin be used as a first-line agent during the second and third trimesters, they stated that it should only be considered appropriate in the first trimester when no other suitable alternative antibiotics were available. While this recommendation seems to have been slow to permeate into the emergency medicine community, growing awareness has led to clinical trepidation in the provision of nitrofurantoin. Read more →

REBEL Cast Ep53 – GeriKet – Ketamine Analgesia in Older Adults

13 Jun
June 13, 2018

Background: The provision of safe and judicious analgesia is an important task for the emergency physician. Recent literature has demonstrated the effectiveness of sub-dissociative ketamine (SDK) in the emergency department (ED) setting (Motov 2015), however concerns regarding increased rates of hemodynamic and psychoperceptual adverse effects have limited application of this analgesic strategy in older populations. As awareness of geriatric oligo-analgesia has risen along with efforts to limit opioid utilization, interest in identifying a data set specific to this population has grown. The authors of this study sought to distinguish the performance and shortcomings of SDK in this unique patient group. Read more →

D-Dimer and Pregnancy: The DiPEP Study

19 Mar
March 19, 2018

Background: Pulmonary embolism is the leading cause of death in pregnancy and the puerperium – accounting for nearly 20% of maternal deaths in the United States – making rapid and accurate diagnosis critically important for emergency physicians, OB/GYNs, and all who take care of these women on a regular basis. Unfortunately, typical diagnostic pathways and approaches may not apply in pregnancy, and are made more complicated by the frequency of concerning and suggestive signs and symptoms in this population, particularly dyspnea (a common symptom in pregnancy related to an increase in progesterone levels) and tachycardia (as resting heart rate is typically expected to increase by up to 25% in normal pregnancy). Read more →

Should You Prescribe Oral Thiamine for Chronic Alcoholics?

07 Sep
September 7, 2017

Background: Alcoholism is a chronic disease with a staggering impact on society, costing the nation approximately 100 billion dollars per year, an expenditure greater than the costs associated with all cancers and respiratory diseases combined (Whiteman 2000). Large public hospital emergency department studies have demonstrated the enormous strain of alcohol use on resources, and the disproportionate burden that the care of the alcohol abusing patient places on the emergency medical system and the ED (Zook 1980). In one observational cohort, 24% of adult patients brought to the ED by ambulance were determined to likely suffer from alcoholism, further underscoring the tremendous frequency of this disease (Whiteman 2000). Read more →