February 7, 2019

Welcome back to REBELCast.  In this episode we talked with Jacob Avila about US guided PIVs. Difficult IV access in an already busy department can be a frustrating thing, but it doesn’t have to be.  Patients and providers are often frustrated for different reasons.  Patients for multiple IV attempts and providers because of the time it can take to perform the procedure, delays in care, or lack of success. If you want to get better at this all-important procedure, read/listen on.

January 31, 2019

Background Information: The successful placement of an endotracheal tube (ETT) is a necessary skill all emergency physicians must possess. Performing life-saving interventions are understandably stressful as their failure can lead to morbid consequences and expedited patient death.1,2 The intensive training of emergency physicians, the availability of multiple alternative airway adjuncts and the use of rapid-sequence intubation has helped reduce the intubation complication rate among trauma and medical patients.3-5 Confirmatory methods to ensure the placement of the endotracheal tube are ever changing with no single method being infallible.6. Physical exam findings such as auscultation of the chest and epigastrium, visualization of thoracic movement and fogging of the ETT are not sufficiently reliable to confirm placement.7,8 The use of end-tidal CO2 detection has been shown to have a cumulative false-positive and false-negative failure rate of 10% in accurately confirming the ETT’s location according to the authors of this paper (The paper referenced is a bit dated)­.6 Furthermore, the usage of these devices may contribute to the complications as they frequently require up to 5 ventilations to obtain an accurate reading.9-11 This puts the patient at risk for aspiration especially if the tube is in the esophagus. No.12 Despite a post-intubation CXR taking time, exposing the patient to more radiation and adding to the cost of treatment, it still continues to remain the standard of care.12-14  The authors of this study wished to better understand the test characteristics of utilizing ultrasound to confirm ETT placement. They conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify the accuracy of this ETT confirmatory method.

August 20, 2015

As we have discussed in previous posts, the care of patients with cardiac arrest is a key skill for Emergency Providers. ACLS provides a foundation for care but is rife with shortcomings including, but not limited to, reliance on outdated data and inability to adapt in the face of improved understanding of cardiac arrest pathophysiology. The incorporation of technological advances and skills is another massive limitation of ACLS. One of these technologies is point of care ultrasound (POCUS).

Over the last two decades, POCUS has become a integral part of Emergency Medicine training and practice. POCUS allows for rapid, bedside diagnosis of a number of conditions including cholecystitis, urinary retention and ectopic pregnancy. Additionally, it is becoming a greater component in the management of the critical patient where it can be used to assess cardiac contractility, wall motion abnormalities, intraperitoneal free fluid and more. Application of POCUS in all patients with cardiac arrest is simply the next step. This diagnostic modality is not highlighted in the current iteration of ACLS but is a practice changer. The bottom line is that application of POCUS in cardiac arrest allows the emergency provider to guide resuscitation with a direct look into the body - we are no longer blind.

For this post, I want to discuss two ways that we can use ultrasound in cardiac arrest patients, specifically in pulseless electrical activity (PEA), in the Emergency Department:

  1. Assessment for the presence or absence of cardiac output and
  2. As an alternate framework to the Hs and Ts.
A quick disclaimer - I am not an ultrasound expert, I did not do a fellowship but I am passionate about it’s application in our sickest patients.

June 16, 2014

Typically, the initial evaluation of blunt trauma patients involves a supine anteroposterior (AP) chest x-ray (CXR) which has a poor sensitivity for the detection of pneumothorax (PTX), and has been reported as low as 20% - 48%. Following the CXR computed tomography (CT) has been the standard for the diagnosis of pneumothorax. The use of ultrasonography to diagnose pneumothorax was first described in 1986 in animal studies. Since then there have been many studies that have shown bedside ultrasound can rapidly detect pneumothorax, helping avoid serious potential consequences (i.e. tension pneumothorax), especially in patients requiring mechanical ventilation. There are several different sonographic signs that can be used to detect pneumothorax, specifically, sonographic lung sliding. But how good is ultrasound for the detection of pneumothorax?

April 7, 2014

Abnormal vital signs are poor predictors of mortality associated with pulmonary embolism (PE).  Diagnosis of PE and right ventricular (RV) strain with transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) however, has been well documented as a predictor for pending shock and significant in-hospital mortality.  One study done by Grifoni S et al, showed that 10% of normotensive patients with PE and RV strain on echo developed PE related shock, and 3% died, whereas normotensive patients without signs of RV strain remained hemodynamically stable.