Background: Headache accounts for approximately 2% of all ED visits. One of the most serious etiologies of headache is aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which accounts for 4 – 12% of ED patients with thunderclap headache. There have been several studies in the past few years suggesting that in neurologically intact patients, the sensitivity of modern CT scanners for SAH approaches 100% if performed within 6 hours of headache onset and interpreted by qualified radiologists. If true this data suggests that an LP may not be necessary to rule out SAH and an initial negative CT can be considered a rule-out test. Read more →
Background: Tracheal intubation is a procedure that is often performed in the ED on patients in critical condition. Because of this, there is the potential for complications such as hypoxemia, hypotension, dysrhythmias, aspiration, and cardiac arrest. Apneic Oxygenation (ApOx) is a concept first explored decades ago in the anesthesia literature and more recently, has gained acceptance in the ED. Studies in the operating room (OR) show that delivery of oxygen through the use of nasal cannula during periods of apnea significantly delays the onset of oxygen desaturation. These studies however, were in controlled settings with elective surgical patients who were not in critical condition. Physiologically, ApOx makes sense, its low cost, and low complexity and could improve the safety of RSI in the ED, by extending the safe apnea time. To date there have been no RCTs on ApOx in the ED. The recently published Fellow Trial questioned the use of ApOx in critically ill patients, but had some significant issues with 2/3 of the usual care arm not being apneic (i.e. Bag Valve Mask Ventilation or Non-Invasive Ventilation) prior to intubation. Read more →
Background: The electrocardiogram (ECG) is one of the most useful diagnostic studies for identification of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and acute myocardial infarction (AMI). The classic teaching is ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is defined as symptoms consistent with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) + new ST-segment elevation at the J point in at least 2 anatomically contiguous leads of at least 2mm (0.2mV) in men or at least 1.5mm in women in leads V2 – V3 and/or at least 1mm (0.1mV) in other contiguous leads or the limb leads, in the absence of a left bundle branch block, left ventricular hypertrophy, or other non-acute MI ST-segment elevation presentations. Unfortunately, the ECG may be non-diagnostic in nearly half of all patients who initially present with AMI. There are also STEMI equivalent patterns that are caused by occlusion of the coronary arteries that place a significant portion of the left ventricle at jeopardy and result in poor outcomes. This review article focused on 5 under recognized high-risk ECG patterns in the ACS patient that result in poor outcomes including malignant dysrhythmias, higher rates of cardiogenic shock, and death. 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 →
One of the major reasons contributing to dismal survival rates in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is the lack of bystander initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Even though the majority of OHCA is witnessed, only 1 in 5 patients will receive bystander initiated CPR . Survey studies have shown that bystanders are not wanting to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on strangers. Outside of early defibrillation, only early bystander initiated CPR has consistently been shown to improve neurologically intact survival in OHCA. So what about Cardiocerebral Resuscitation, also known as “Hands-Only” CPR? Read more →