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. 

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.

January 28, 2019

Diagnosis and management of concussion in children is part of our everyday bread and butter in the Emergency Department. Given the estimated 1.1 million - 1.9 million pediatric concussions we see annually in the United States, it is no wonder why. [1] We are well aware that pediatric concussions (more accurately termed mild traumatic brain injury, mTBI) occur most commonly from direct blunt head trauma, but they can also occur via indirect forces. Regardless of mechanism, concussions result in temporary neurologic and/or cognitive impairment that can last hours to days, with long-term sequelae potentially lasting weeks to months.

December 6, 2018

Friday, 2300 hours:

A 24 year-old woman presents to your Emergency Department after a motor vehicle collision. She was the restrained driver of a car that collided head-on with another vehicle. She is complaining only of chest pain and appears uncomfortable and anxious.  The monitor shows sinus tachycardia and you spot a sternal fracture on her chest x-ray.  After IVF and Fentanyl, she remains slightly tachycardic and you wonder:

  • Do I need to send a troponin?
  • If the troponin is negative does this patient need to be admitted?
  • What other testing should I consider in the Emergency Department?

November 5, 2018

Background: Care of trauma patients with severe bleeding has advanced in recent years with a focus on damage control resuscitation which includes permissive hypotension, hemostatic resuscitation (blood component resuscitation), and hemorrhage control. Minimizing crystalloids in favor of blood component-based resuscitation in the prehospital setting has the potential to reduce downstream complications by intervening closer to the time of injury before the development of coagulopathy, irreversible shock, and inflammatory response.  There is a paucity of high level evidence showing the efficacy and safety of plasma transfusions in the prehospital setting including retrospective studies which suffered from survivor bias (patients had to survive long enough to receive plasma) and small randomized clinical trials not showing survival benefit.  This has led to the publication of two randomized controlled trials: COMBAT and PAMPer.

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