March 21, 2019

Background: Rapid Sequence Intubation (RSI)  is a common procedure performed by both emergency clinicians and intensivists. Although the procedure is complex, the major pieces are pre-oxygenation, administration of a sedative agent in close proximity with a paralytic, laryngoscopy and placement of an endotracheal tube without the provision of any ventilations during the process. The avoidance of bag-mask ventilations (BMV), or any positive pressure breaths, rests on the belief that those breaths can distend the stomach and lead to regurgitation and aspiration. For this to happen, the force of the breath must exceed the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter (~ 20 mm Hg). Critically ill patients presenting with airway compromise cannot be guaranteed to have a fasting state, regurgitation and aspiration is a major concern.

However, there’s another side to this. Many of our patients who are critically ill have intrapulmonary shunting; portions of the lung are atelectatic, filled with fluid, blood, or pus and not being oxygenated though they are being perfused. Blood running through these portions of the lung will be deoxygenated and will lower the overall O2 content of blood entering the systemic circulation after mixing with blood coming from ventilated regions. This shunting at least partially explains why we see patients rapidly desaturating during intubation. Positive pressure can recruit atelectatic portions of the lung that are not involved in gas exchange thus decreasing the physiologic shunt and increasing the patient’s oxygen reserve.

Despite decades of experience with RSI we continue to look for better approaches since the procedure still poses serious risks to the patient. Recent modifications that have seen wide adoption include using the bed-up-head-elevated (BUHE) position, suction assisted laryngoscopy for airway decontamination (SALAD) and bougie first intubation, though there are many more. Now, a publication in the NEJM makes us question the core principle of BMV during RSI.

March 20, 2019

Take Home Points on Oncologic Emergencies:

  1. Hyperviscosity Syndrome happens when elevated WBCs or severe hyperproteinemia cause high serum viscosity and micro-circulatory problems in patients with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, multiple myeloma or acute leukemia. Be suspicious of this syndrome in these patient’s when they present with the classic triad of mucosal bleeding, visual disturbances, and neurological symptoms or with any end organ failure.
  2. Tumor Lysis Syndrome results from high turnover of malignant cells resulting in severe metabolic derangements including hypocalcemia, hyperkalemia, hyperphosphatemia, hyperuricemia, AKI, metabolic acidosis. Be suspicious of this in patients presenting with edema, hematuria, fatigue, weakness, altered mental status or symptoms that go along with specific metabolic derangement, particularly if they recently received chemotherapy, radiation or high dose steroids.

March 6, 2019

Take Home Points:

  1. If the patient is a clear traumatic arrest, compressions aren’t indicated and, instead we should focus on the important interventions that need to be done.
  2. Ultrasound can be incredibly helpful in traumatic arrest. If you’ve got a traumatic arrest patient with neither pericardial fluid nor cardiac activity, it may be reasonable to stop resuscitation without the thoracotomy.
  3. When decompressing the chest, it’s better to place you angiocath in the 5th intercostal space in the anterior axillary line. This helps you avoid the great vessels in the as well as the thick anterior chest wall
  4. And last, if you are doing a thoracostomy, you may as well go bilaterally. You are doing invasive things to a dying patient, there is no reason to guess where the problem is. Similarly, if you have to do a thoracotomy, you could consider making it a clamshell as it space to look into and making sure the right side of the chest is accessed.

February 25, 2019

Introduction: The production and release of new antibiotics is rare and should be celebrated by clinicians. As antibiotic resistance continues to mount, our options narrow and, in turn, our patients suffer. Recently, the NEJM published two articles on a new antibiotic that was recently FDA approved - omadacycline. The articles compared omadacycline to moxifloxacin in the treatment of community acquired pneumonia (CAP) and to linezolid in the treatment of skin and soft tissue infections. Both studies yielded promising results for the new drug which should be cause of excitement. However, significant biases, methodological flaws and poor selection of comparator treatments should temper our excitement.

Both studies tested the new antibiotic in a non-inferiority set up. Non-inferiority studies seem to be increasingly prevalent in the literature and because they serve an important purpose, it’s important for us to understand them and also to understand why this approach is used and why it may not be appropriate.

February 20, 2019

Take Home Points:

  1. Hypothermia is neuroprotective and patients can survive prolonged periods of cardiac arrest. Termination of resuscitative efforts in cardiac arrest should not considered until the patient is >32°C or has a K > 12 mEq/L
  2. Active internal rewarming is the keystone of treatment for unstable hypothermic patients. Utilize available resources including ECMO to effectively warm your patient
  3. Consider alternate causes for hypothermia, especially in patients who fail to respond to warming