August 3, 2020

 Background Information:

The care and management of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is complex and follows an inciting injury to the lungs. This constellation of symptoms is characterized by hypoxemia, diffuse lung inflammation, decreased lung compliance and noncardiogenic pulmonary edema typically seen as bilateral opacities on radiographical imaging.1  Slow progress has been made in developing effective ARDS treatments, among them are low tidal volumes which have been shown to improve mortality.2 Over time the development of guidelines such as the ARDSnet protocol have also helped provide a stepwise framework to treatment. However, there are a subset of patients who continue to remain hypoxic and refractory hypoxemia accounts for 10-15% of deaths in ARDS patients.3   The therapies typically implemented to correct refractory hypoxia include proning, inhaled pulmonary vasodilators, extracorporeal membranous oxygenation (ECMO), paralysis, recruitment maneuvers, unconventional ventilator modes and more.4–8 The following post and included infographics focus on the following salvage therapies: Proning, Paralytics and (lung) Protection. It is important to note that regardless of the therapy, specializing care on an individual basis with a risk-benefit analysis is required to give patients the best possible chance at survival.

July 30, 2020

What is it HLH? Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare and often fatal syndrome of uncontrolled and ineffective inflammatory response to a certain trigger. It is characterized by excessive proliferation of lymphocytes and macrophages (histiocytes), hence the name “lymphohistiocytosis”. This results in the overproduction of cytokines, responsible for many of the clinical features present in this syndrome. Familial, or genetic, HLH occurs as a result of a genetic mutation leading to impaired cytotoxic function. There have been several genetic mutations indicated in the development of HLH, including an association with congenital immunodeficiency syndromes, such as Chediak-Higashi, Griscelli and X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Syndromes. This form most often occurs within the first year of life (median age 8 months), with the majority of pediatric cases occurring <2 years of age, but can range from infancy to adulthood. Acquired HLH occurs in the setting of an underlying condition, such as immunodeficiency, malignancy, or autoimmune disease. When HLH is secondary to a predisposing autoimmune disease, it is referred to as macrophage activating syndrome (MAS).  Acquired HLH is the most common cause of this syndrome in adults, but this form can be seen in all ages. Overall, the syndrome is most often triggered by an infectious agent in an otherwise healthy person.

July 27, 2020

Background: The scientific process in medicine is complicated. Obtaining high-quality data to guide management requires hypothesis formulation, data to support the hypothesis and study replication. Time and again beneficial findings in therapeutic studies fail to be replicated in subsequent studies. A single positive trial may cause some to feel it unethical to assign patients to a standard therapy that could potentially deprive them of benefit. Alternatively, pharmaceutical companies have little impetus to attempt or support collecting additional data that may jeopardize their product. In research, repetition is the pillar on which clinical trials results should be founded on. As this may not be feasible, complete transparency of all aspects of a trial are essential. One of the most hotly debated topics in emergency medicine is the use of systemic thrombolysis in acute ischemic stroke.  There are only two randomized clinical trials that demonstrate benefit in neurologic outcomes: NINDS-II and ECASS-III (see table below).  Methodological experts, however, have raised concerns that both studies had baseline imbalances in stroke severity that may have biased the trials final results. Both studies have undergone re-analysis taking these baseline differences into account.

July 23, 2020

Background: Trauma remains the leading cause of death in the United States for those aged less than 45 years old. Those who arrest from hemorrhage or other traumatic mechanism often carry a very poor prognosis. Various studies have placed the survival from blunt traumatic arrest at <10%. Much is dependent however on the systems approach to managing these patients – for example those patients who have very rapid access to surgical resuscitative techniques may have better outcomes. Nevertheless, given the typical young age of these victims, a significant effort is often made at resuscitation. This must be balanced with the potential risks to clinical staff, appropriate use of limited resources, and expected quality of life of survivors. To be able to predict better outcomes would be of use both in the prehospital and in-hospital environments.

July 22, 2020

Take Home Points
  • Spinal Epidural Abscess may present insidiously and patients often lack the classic triad of fever, back pain and neurologic symptoms
  • Empiric Antibiotics should cover Staphylococcus (including MRSA) and Gram negative Bacilli
  • All patients with clinical suspicion require rapid evaluation with MRI as the diagnostic study of choice
  • Although not all patients will go to the operating room, surgical consult (Neurosurgery or Orthopedics) should be obtained emergently