August 15, 2019

Background: The clinical diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE) can be challenging given its variable presentation, thus requiring dependence on objective testing. Decision instruments such as PERC and the Wells’ score help stratify patients to low or high probability, enabling focused use of CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) for diagnosis. However, despite these algorithms, there is evidence of increasing use of CTPA along with diminishing diagnostic rate (less than 10%). This combination results in the overdiagnosis of subsegmental PEs, unnecessary exposure to radiation and false positive results. These issues are compounded in patients with pregnancy. While we know that pregnancy increases risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) our testing rates far exceed the added risk exposing thousands of women to the afore mentioned potential harms.

In 2017, the YEARS algorithm established a simplified algorithm for evaluation with a two-tiered D-dimer threshold in an effort to reduce the number of patients getting CTPA  (van der Hulle 2017). The YEARS algorithm asks three questions: 1) Are there clinical signs of DVT? 2) Does the patient have hemoptysis? and 3) is PE the most likely diagnosis. If the answer to all 3 questions is no, the D-dimer threshold is set at 1000 ng/mL FEU (500 ng/mL DDU) and if the answer is “yes” to any of the 3 questions, the D-dimer threshold is set at 500 ng/mL (250 ng/mL DDU). However, this study had very few pregnant women enrolled.

August 7, 2019

Take Home Points

  • There is no real distinction between syncope and near syncope.

  • Older folk with near syncope or syncope should be treated the same.

  • Patient with high risk features its reasonable to admit but if they’re low risk, well-appearing and have reasonable follow up discharge home is fine.

June 26, 2019

Take Home Points on SVT

  • Superficial venous thrombosis refers to a clot and inflammation in the larger, or “axial” veins of the lower extremities and superficial thrombophlebitis refers to clot and inflammation in the tributary veins of the lower extremities. While we previously thought of this as a benign entity, we actually found the superficial venous thrombosis has been associated with concomitant DVT and PE.
  • Small, superficial clots can be treated with compression, NSAIDs, and elevation. These patients should be seen for follow up within 7-10 days to make sure the clot has not progressed.
  • Clots that are longer than 5 cm should be treated with prophylactic dosing of anticoagulation: fondaparinux 2.5mg subq once daily for 45 days or enoxaparin 40 mg subq once daily for 45 days. 
  • Clots that are within 3 cm of the sapheno-femoral junction should be treated the same as a DVT. 
  • A superficial thrombus could mean there is a deeper clot elsewhere, even in the other leg! Take a good history, perform a thorough physical exam and consider a bilateral lower extremity DVT study in concerning patients.

June 12, 2019

Take Home Points on Measles

  • There is a resurgence of measles worldwide
  • Incubation period is 10 – 14 days and patients are contagious 4 days before rash develops and up to 5 days after
  • Suspect measles in any patient with an acute febrile illness who is either un- or undervaccinated
  • Know about Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) schedules and isolation times of various populations
  • Healthcare workers should wear N95 masks while taking care of patients with suspected measles, and report cases to their local health department.

May 30, 2019

Background: Syncope, defined as a transient loss of consciousness with spontaneous and complete recovery to pre-event status, is a common emergency department (ED) presentation. Recently, we have discussed the lack of clinical utility in distinguishing syncope from near-syncope in terms of outcomes. In that discussion, we concluded: “In older adults (> 60 years of age), near-syncope appears to portend an equal risk of death or serious clinical event at 30 days when compared to syncope. These two entities should be considered as one when decisions are made in terms of evaluation in the ED.” While we argue for evaluation and disposition to be the same, we don’t address what the best disposition or plan is. While it is common to admit older patients with syncope/near-syncope from the ED, admission doesn’t inherently yield better outcomes.

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