March 12, 2020

Background: Most published clinical guidelines on the management of primary spontaneous pneumothorax (PSP) advocate for a conservative approach of observation for small asymptomatic pneumothoraces (PTX).(1,2) However, procedural re-expansion with a catheter or chest tube is recommended for all large pneumothoraces, regardless of symptomatology or clinical stability.(1) More recently, smaller chest tubes (i.e. pigtail catheters) have been used as this can potentially cause less pain. Typically, patients who get chest tubes or pigtail catheters require hospitalization for management of the tube. But, chest tubes are not without risk: there are multiple reports in the literature describing terrible consequences of chest tubes including bleeding, infections and empyemas, and misplacement into vital organs like the liver, spleen, and heart.(3-5) An alternative approach to this invasive procedure is to do nothing, unless the pneumothorax becomes physiologically significant. In an effort to reduce these risks and discomfort to the patient, the clinical quandary becomes: can a large pneumothorax be managed using a conservative observation-only approach, without placement of catheters or chest tubes? To date there have been no randomized clinical trials comparing these two polar opposite management strategies until now (The PSP Trial).

March 9, 2020

Background: Oxygen therapy is frequently used in the emergency department for the treatment of hypoxia and respiratory failure and can be delivered in a variety of ways. Conventional oxygen therapy (COT) via nasal cannula is often a first line treatment, but has some drawbacks, including inability to deliver a precise concentration and volume of oxygen, inability to deliver high enough concentration and volume of oxygen, inability to heat and humidify, and poor tolerance.  While it is able to deliver more precise, high flow oxygen, noninvasive ventilation (NIV) also presents a comfort challenge for many patients. High flow nasal cannula (HFNC) has been introduced as an alternative to COT and NIV. It can be used to deliver heated, humidified oxygen at high rates (up to 60 L/min) and maintain a set oxygen fraction. Prior randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analysis comparing HFNC to COT and NIV have demonstrated conflicting results. Additionally, none of these previous meta-analyses have evaluated emergency department (ED) patients.

February 10, 2020

The use of heated and humidified high flow nasal cannula (HFNC) has become increasingly popular in the treatment of patients with acute respiratory failure through all age groups.  Over the past several years, many studies have come out reviewing the mechanisms of action as well as its use in a variety of conditions.  In this episode, I will summarize how it works and for part 2, I will discuss the main indications for its use in both adult and pediatric patients and practical tips on how to use it.

December 19, 2019

Background: E-cigarettes or “vapes” are now the most popular tobacco product among US teens and are used by 20% of all high-schoolers2. Vapes are used to heat and vaporize a liquid (e-juice or vape juice) that may contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or ultraconcentrated THC resin (hash oil, wax, or dabs.)3. Since their introduction, vaping devices have been studied for the numerous potentially harmful chemicals they can introduce into users, including: heavy metals (cadmium, nickel, lead), plastic-related toxic gases (like cyanide and phosgene), volatile organic compounds, ultrafine particles, and diacetyl flavoring (linked to a chronic pulmonary syndrome known as ‘popcorn lung,’ which is not as appealing as it sounds)4. More recently, a spectrum of lung illnesses related to vaping have become the focus of a national public health investigation. These cases have been described in almost every US state since early summer 2019; as of November 2019, there have been over 2000 cases of ‘Vaping-Associated Lung Injury’ (VALI) reported to the CDC, with 42 associated deaths. The article discussed below is a large case series from the Midwest depicting the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with VALI from April to August 2019.  Since then, several more epidemiological and analytical investigations have been published, and studies are ongoing to clarify the causes and best treatments for this disorder. We chose this article for REBEL EM because it represents a well-done early investigation of an emerging epidemic which contributed valuable clinical insights for emergency medicine practice.