June 10, 2019

Airway management as the first priority has been the backbone of resuscitation for years. “Address A first, before moving to B and C,” is what we are taught and what we go on to teach successive generations of learners. For appropriately trained clinical teams, either in- or prehospital, the completion of “A” may well mean performing a rapid sequence intubation (RSI) From its inception in the 1970s, there has been continued evolution in how we approach RSI (and airway management in general) in the physiologically threatened patient – this post will focus on the trauma patient. You can revisit some really well-done blogs and podcasts over the last few years that have highlighted various approaches to prevent peri- and post-intubation problems. Like cardiac arrest.

May 1, 2019

Take Home Points on Blunt Cardiac Injury

  • No single test can be used to exclude BCI. However a thorough physical exam combined with a 12-lead EKG, troponin measurement, and echocardiography can be used to characterize BCI and direct care
  • Obtain a 12-lead EKG in all thoracic trauma patients 
  • A chest x-ray may help to identify associated injuries. However, isolated musculoskeletal injuries such as sternal fractures do not correlate with a risk of BCI
  • Bedside TTE can quickly evaluate for life-threats such as cardiac tamponade; A TEE is both sensitive and specific across the spectrum of BCI pathology and is part of a comprehensive evaluation
  • BCI can be excluded in a patient without EKG abnormalities and a negative troponin I

April 18, 2019

Every now and again someone raises the issue on social media about resuscitative thoracotomy.  What are the indications (we have the EAST guidelines for that), what are the risks (highlighted in this important recent paper), and of course, whether EM or surgery should be doing it in the trauma bay (guess what – it’s in the curriculum for both specialties). That’s not the point of this post.  This post is about how I think you, as the emergency medicine physician (EP), working in a system where your surgeon is not in-house, but is available in a reasonable amount of time, should proceed when faced with the patient who meets the indications.  You’ve gone through your HOTTT(T) algorithm and are now at that final “T” – you have to open the chest.

April 8, 2019

Screen-Shot-2019-03-19-at-5.32.30-AM.pngBackground: Multiple guidelines recommend tramadol or NSAIDs as 1stline treatment for patients with osteoarthritis (OA).  Tramadol is viewed as a weak opioid because it binds to the mu receptor at a significantly lower affinity than morphine.It also inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine.  Tramadol is converted in the liver via CYP2D6 which can cause some issues.  The big issue is that CYP2D6 activity varies among patients and this is important because you don’t know how much opiate the patient is actually receiving (i.e. the same dose of tramadol will have widely different effects from patient to patient).  Not only is tramadol potentially not giving pain relief, but patients often return to the ED for common side effects of tramadol including nausea/vomiting, dizziness, constipation, etc. Because of it’s multiple mechanisms of action, potential drug-drug interactions, and lowering of the seizure threshold, the safety of tramadol has been brought to question.

March 23, 2019

The management of the critically hemorrhaging trauma patient has seen a large amount of change over last decade, from bringing care far forward to the field to early use of blood products to civilian translation and application tourniquets to name a few. The reality unfortunately is that there is still a subgroup of patients who continue to suffer early mortality from hemorrhage, primarily because they are bleeding in the torso.  This is particularly challenging for both prehospital and in-hospital clinicians to manage as these areas do not allow control through direct compression. Enter resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) – a technique that builds on principles from vascular surgery and sees the placement of a balloon catheter into the aorta via the femoral artery.  Acting as an internal tourniquet, it temporarily occludes flow to the bleeding vessel thus providing circulatory support and precious time to get the patient to definitive care. With the alternative being death from hemorrhage, REBOA came as a breath of fresh air – a minimally invasive means of achieving hemorrhage control in these extremely sick patients. There were innovators and early adopters and reports of fantastic saves – patients were surviving who would never have survived before.