February 6, 2014

Troponin testing is an important component of the diagnostic workup and management of acute coronary syndromes (ACS). The increasing sensitivity of troponin assays has lowered the number of potentially missed ACS diagnoses, but this has also created a diagnostic challenge due to a decrease in the specificity of the test. From 1995 to 2007, the limit of troponin detection fell from 0.5 ng/mL to 0.006 ng/mL (see below graph). Robert Jesse summed up this frustration with the following quote:
When troponin was a lousy assay it was a great test, but now that it's becoming a great assay, it's getting to be a lousy test.

February 4, 2014

Computed Tomography (CT) scan using radiocontrast is one of the most common imaging modalities used in emergency departments today. Several studies and my own anecdotal experiences indicate that both physicians and patients believe that iodine allergies are linked to seafood allergies and that both are related to a disproportionate increased risk of "allergic" reactions to radiocontrast agents. To add further insult to injury, some hospitals have premedication protocols with steroids and antihistamines requiring up to 12 hours before CT scans with intravenous contrast can be performed. So what is the relationship of radiocontrast, iodine, and seafood allergies?

January 30, 2014

Women with undifferentiated abdominal pain and/or vaginal bleeding commonly present to the emergency department.  Many textbooks advocate for the pelvic exam as an essential part of the history and physical exam. Performance of this portion of the exam is time consuming to the physician and uncomfortable for the patient. It is with great regularity that emergency medicine physicians make clinical decisions based on information derived from it, but is this information reliable and does it effect the clinical plan of patients?

January 26, 2014

chest pain and CCTAIt is well known that taking a good history and physical, getting a non-ischemic EKG, and serial cardiac biomarkers, results in a risk of death/AMI of <5% in 30 days. Patients, in whom you still suspect have CAD, should undergo provocative testing within the next 72 hours based on the AHA/ACC guidelines. Their guidelines deem provocative testing as including:
  • Exercise treadmill stress test,
  • Myocardial perfusion scan,
  • Stress echocardiography, and/or
  • Coronary CT angiography (CCTA).  
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