FOAMcastini – ACEP Wednesday


FOAMcast is bringing you pearls from conferences we attend and, first up, the American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting, ACEP14.  Weekend review, Monday review, Tuesday review

Scientific Assembly Wednesday Pearls

(there’s too much to choose from, so follow #ACEP14)

Debating Clinical Policies: Implications for tPA and Beyond – Drs. David Newman, David Seaberg, and Edward Sloan

  • The ACEP clinical policy on TPA is hotly debated, as it gives Level A evidence to TPA in acute ischemic stroke.  This policy is being reconsidered and big props to ACEP for doing this, most professional organizations aren’t that responsive.
  • TPA has a NNT of 8 and a NNH of 16.  The TPA supporters typically reference NINDS, ignoring the other RCTs.  They also reference large sets of registry data.
TPA in Stroke courtesy of Dr. Andy Neill
TPA in Stroke courtesy of Dr. Andy Neill
  • Check out his SMART EM podcast on the topic

Evidence-Based Approach to the “Other” Stroke – Dr. Jon Edlow

  • Prothrombin complex concentrate (PCCs) are all the rage, particularly since the 4 factor PCC was approved last year in the United States.  It improves patients numbers of coagulopathy, but not necessarily patient outcomes (Dr. Rory Spiegel on the topic).
  • Fresh frozen plasma, dosing is based on INR and the patient’s weight, it’s not an empiric “2 units.”
  • Blood pressure control may be safe in Intracerebral hemorrhage, but the studies such as INTERACT don’t show that it benefits patients (The SGEM).

Chest Pain in the ED: Is One Troponin Enough? – Dr. David Newman

  • The miss rate for MI is often quoted as 2%, but it’s more like 0.2% per the Pope et al study.  So, we’re pretty good at this.
  • ACEP has a policy stating that a single troponin after 8 hours of chest pain is sufficient
  • States that have tort reform have shown fewer lawsuits and less money without compromising patient outcomes.
  • See the SMART EM talk on this

Clinical Pearls From the Recent Medical Literature – Drs. Jerome Hoffman and Richard Bukata (#hofkata)

  • Topical analgesia for corneal abrasions – the FOAM world has been buzzing with the notion of using tetracaine for corneal abrasions (Rebel EM, The SGEM).  Hofkata reviewed this paper by Waldman et al that showed no difference in visual analog scores for normal saline compared with tetracaine for corneal abrasions.  Tetracaine was perceived more effective so there may be a role for dilute proparacaine but we’ll need some more studies.
  • Cough medicines don’t work, as demonstrated by Smith et al but honey might per Cohen et al (The SGEM)
EMRA award!
EMRA award! Thanks, y’all!

FOAMcastini – ACEP Tuesday


FOAMcast is bringing you pearls from conferences we attend and, first up, the American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting, ACEP14.  Weekend review, Day 1 review.

Scientific Assembly Day 2 Pearls

(there’s too much to choose from, so follow #ACEP14)

Simple Complaints in Patients with HIV – Dr. John Perkins

  • HIV is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD) and these patients are prone to thrombotic complications [Boccara et al]
  • Dr. Amal Mattu has really championed this point, as in this videocast

Resuscitation Pearls – Dr. Scott Weingart 

  • REBOA and ECMO are exciting and coming…but most of us don’t have them.  Watch the literature.
  • “Normal” vital signs shouldn’t reassure us in trauma. Don’t wait for patients to become hypotensive (this is a danger of euboxia)
  • The Shock Index (Heart Rate/Systolic Blood Pressure) is one way to help detect badness amongst “normal” vital signs in these patients (See this post)
  • ACLS algorithms, they’re helpful for people who don’t specialize in resuscitation.  Think about the individual patient and target interventions accordingly.  Oh, and do good CPR.
    • The AHA supports this, for example, they recommend against the routine use of calcium and sodium bicarbonate [2010 Guidelines].

End of Life/Palliative Care – Dr. James Adams

  • Hospice and palliative care are INTENSIVE. Listen to Dr. Ashley Shreves on the EMCrit podcast if you’re not convinced of this (actually, listen regardless, it’s worth it).
  • A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order only speaks to whether or not a patient wants CPR if they die.  No more, no less.  But, for more on this, check out this blog post.
  • In general, physicians don’t broach end-of-life topics with patients. Dr. Adams quoted a statistic “Approximately 50% of doctors don’t know their patient’s resuscitation wishes.”  The consensus in the room was that it really doesn’t take that much time to initiate these conversations but brief questions asking about a patient’s wishes, checking in to see if they have sufficient resources, or.  (Lauren’s take on the topic).

ACEP’s New Additions to Choosing Wisely

The cliff notes, courtesy of Dr. Seth Trueger

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 3.48.17 PM

Also, the first 5 from 2013:

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FOAMcastini – ACEP Round Up #2


FOAMcast is bringing you pearls from conferences we attend and, first up, the American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting, ACEP14.  Yesterday’s episode covered the council meetings.

Scientific Assembly Day 1 Pearls

Opening Session by Freakonomics hosts Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Weird choice? It turns out that economists and physicians have a lot in common.  What’s that?  Probabilities.  As physicians we like to think of ourselves as diagnosticians, but we’re more like probalisticians.  We make predictions, hopefully based on the best evidence, our clinical expertise, and our patient’s values.  People don’t remember the little stuff, like extra testing but they do tend to remember the more outlandish things, like the “amazing saves” or awful “misses.”

  • See this post by Dr. Simon Carley, in which he describes the ways in which physicians are really playing the odds and gambling.

Cardiology Pearls from Dr. Slovis.

  • Post cardiac arrest – targeted temperature management to 35-36 Celsius is the new 33 Celsius [Nielsen].
  • Many patients should probably go to the cath lab after arrest, but it’s still not clear exactly who benefits the most.  STEMIs should probably go to the cath lab and, perhaps, non-STEMI ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia arrests.  Apparently, 10-30% of these are actually STEMIs “on the inside” [More skeptical takes on this from Dr. Radecki here and here]

Infectious Disease Pearls from Dr. David Pigott – When someone returns from a developing nation, say, West Africa, the cause of their fever is not necessarily ebola. It’s probably an unknown, regular virus.   It’s probably not ebola but it may be malaria which is quite common.

  • His thoughts on predictors of badness: Symptoms typically appear within 8-10 days although the “watch” period is 21 days.  If a patient is in their second week of symptoms and are hemodynamically stable, then the patient has a pretty good shot.

Tox Pearls from Dr. Tim Erickson

  • Calcium channel blocker toxicity – you can try fluids, calcium, atropine, and vasopressors.  For sick patients, however, insulin is the best bet (Note, FOAM is ahead of the curve: post on the lack of utility in glucagon from 2012).
    • Insulin bolus of 1 unit/kg followed by a drip of 1 unit/kg/h.  Add dextrose at about 0.5 mg/kg/h, depending on their glucose.
    • Check glucose and potassium every 30 minutes, with the goal to keep the potassium 2.8-3.2, per Goldfrank.
  • Cyanide toxicity (discussed here) – if you’re thinking about it, please do NOT wait on a cyanide level, or any labs.  Treat, with the current recommendation of intravenous hydroxocobalamin. There’s some discussion on the use of intramuscular cobinamide, which would be great in situations without IVs; however, this is largely untested in humans presently [Bebarta et al].
  • Beware of cognitive biases, such as anchoring. For example, lactic acidosis isn’t always sepsis, cyanide, or carbon monoxide.  Metformin associated lactic acidosis is also a thing.

Dr. Scott Weingart – Catch the CO2 Wave (podcast).  End tidal CO2 (ETCO2) – ETCO2 has become essential in monitoring patients in the ED.  With anything we monitor, we really need to understand what we’re looking at as well as the interventions.

  • ETCO2 does NOT = PaCO2.
  • In most patients, the PaCO2 will be ~3-5 mmHg higher than their ETCO2.
  • This is because ETCO2 is really a measure of: PaCO2 (or production) but also cardiac output and alveolar ventilation.  Thus, the ETCO2 may be falsely low in a patient with significant dead space, such as COPD, or with impaired cardiac output (heart failure).

For updates, follow #ACEP14


FOAMcastini – ACEP Round Up 1


FOAMcast is bringing you pearls from conferences we attend and, first up, the American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting, ACEP14.  However, Jeremy and I both worked overnights so we got into town a little late.  Our friends and ACEP luminaries, Drs. Justin Hensley, Howie Mell, and Todd Slesinger.

For updates, follow #ACEP14

A Few Council Pearls:

Opiates are a huge problem in the United States.  A Town Council met and discussed this issue and the role of emergency physicians in this “epidemic.”  There were a lot of opinions about how emergency departments may contribute to this problem and can possibly play a role in the solution. Further reading on this topic below and, look out for the December ALiEM Journal Club on this paper Lack of Association Between Press Ganey Emergency Department Patient Satisfaction Scores and Emergency Department Administration of Analgesic Medications.

Naloxone (Narcan) – The council approved resolutions in support of naloxone for everyone.  There was also a resolution on developing a clinical policy for emergency physicians prescriptions of naloxone. Watch out for it.

Medical Marijuana – Apparently every year brings some bickering about medical marijuana….and every year, the council defeats the resolutions.  This year was no different…no support for medical marijuana from ACEP.

 Emergency Department Pharmacists – These folks are indispensable in the ED (and in the FOAM world), and ACEP recognized this with the passing of Resolution 44 (what this means, clinically, not sure).  And if you haven’t work with them – you’re missing out.  We’re huge fans of EMPharmD and, naturally, Bryan Hayes (@PharmERToxGuy)

There’s also a lot of politics that goes into these bills, for that part, we got Dr. Kevin Klauer, Council Speaker on FOAMcast to explain.

But the real news… Dr. Kevin Klauer’s haircut.

Dr. Kevin Klauer
Dr. Kevin Klauer’s former look



Also, congratulations to the new ACEP president-elect, Dr. Jay Kaplan and all others elected to new ACEP board positions.

And, of course, the conference is fun (and, it turns out, Dr. Seth Trueger (@MDaware) is actually the nice one).

Episode 17 – The Spleen!


The Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM)

We review Dr. Scott Weingart’s episode 133 on pre-hospital REBOA (resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta). Weingart interviews Dr. Gareth Davies about the encounter, underscoring the increasing use of REBOA.

For a quick REBOA refresher, check out Episode 121.

REBOA (Review of REBOA) – First described in 1954 in the Korean War, this is a form of hemorrhage control below the level of the chest without having to do a thoracotomy with aortic cross clamping, which has sparse mortality benefit and can be dangerous to providers.  Most of the REBOA literature is from swine models and case-series, although there are currently larger trials underway.

  • Outline of procedure – Obtain arterial access through the common femoral artery, pass a vascular sheath, float a balloon catheter to the appropriate section of the aorta, and inflate the balloon to occlude blood flow. The aorta is divided into three zones so that balloon occlusion is performed in Zone 1 for abdominal injuries or Zone 3 for pelvic injuries, while Zone 2 is a proposed no-occlusion zone.

The Bread and Butter

Rosen’s Chapter 46, 134 and Tintinalli Chapter 260.

What DOES the spleen do?

Answer: More than most appreciate. The spleen filters the blood, removing abnormal or old red blood cells (RBCs), debris, and antibody coated bacteria from the bloodstream.  It also serves as a reservoir for RBCs and platelets and synthesizes antibodies, opsonins, etc.

Splenic Trauma – EAST Guidelines (their podcast)

Diagnosis – suspect spleen trauma clinically, with hypotension, left upper quadrant abdominal pain, or even minimal trauma, especially after infectious mononucleosis.

  • CT with IV contrast (hemodynamically stable patients).  While FAST and DPL can detect peritoneal free fluid, they can’t detect subcapsular bleeds.
  • Unstable patients – operating room versus interventional radiology

Grading – 1 is 1 (<1 cm laceration depth), 3 is 3 (>3 cm laceration depth). Everything else is somewhere in between.   Higher grades typically result in more aggressive interventions. Historically these get operative intervention

  • Grade 1: < 1 cm laceration depth or<10% subcapsular hematoma
  • Grade 2: 1-3 cm laceration or 10-50% subcapsular
  • Grade 3: > 3 cm laceration depth or >50% subcapsular hematoma
    • Grade 3 or higher should be considered for angiography with embolization (Level II, III – EAST)
  • Grade 4: partially devascularized spleen or contrast blush
  • Grade 5:  a very battered, devascularized spleen

There’s slightly more to spleen grading, check out this post from Dr. McGonigal

Trivia:  The punctate extravasation sometimes seen on angiogram after blunt trauma?

Answer: The Seurat Spleen (pubmed), named after the pointillist painter.

Treatment –

  • Unstable patients: Operating room or Angiographic Intervention (IR) (Level II – EAST)
    • Note: Board exam? Send the patient to the OR.  In reality, there is some practice variation. Many would still argue the patient belongs in the OR, some places have combined OR/IR suites, and some opt for IR.
    • Post splenectomy patients will need immunizations for the encapsulated bacteria
  • Stable patients: Nonoperative management, which often comprises in-hospital monitoring, serial abdominal exams and hematocrits, etc is becoming increasingly common as first line for higher grade splenic injuries.  The key here is that the team must be able to take the patient to the OR or IR should the situation change.  Angioembolization has also gained momentum as management

Post-Splenectomy Sepsis (Review)– Most common in the first years after splenectomy and in children.

Presentation – Patients may present with a vague flu-like illness or gastroenteritis but may go on to develop septic shock, DIC, and multiorgan dysfunction. In addition, meningitis without overwhelming infection or shock is a common presentation of pneumococcal infection in asplenic patients.

Etiology – encapsulated bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenza, and Neisseria meningitidis), capnocytophaga canimorsus (dog bites), and parasites such as babesiosis (endemic in New England), malaria, and ehrlichiosis.

Management – Labs, blood cultures, antibiotics (typically ceftriaxone)

Splenic Sequestration – Second most common cause of death in kids with Sickle Cell Disease <5 years of age.

Classic presentation – LLL: LUQ, lethargy, lightness (pallor).

Labs: 3 point drop in hemoglobin, increased reticulocyte count, and thrombocytopenia.

Generously Donated Rosh Review Questions (Scroll for Answers)

Question 1.  [polldaddy poll=8376275]

Question 2.  A 23-year-old man presents with a stab wound to the abdomen. His vital signs are HR 132, BP 88/45. He has a positive FAST.[polldaddy poll=8376283]



Chapter 46, 134. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, 8e.

Chapter 260. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 7e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011



1.  C.  Splenic artery aneurysms are the most common type of visceral arterial aneurysms, accounting for up to 60% of cases. Etiologies include arterial fibrodysplasia, portal hypertension, and increased splenic AV shunting in pregnancy. Clinical presentation is vague with left upper quadrant pain with radiation to the left shoulder or subscapular area. Most of the aneurysms are <2 cm in diameter; only 2% result in life-threatening rupture. Treatment is surgical resection if the patient is symptomatic. Otherwise, asymptomatic patients can undergo transcatheter embolization. Of those aneurysms that rupture, up to 95% occur in young pregnant women.

Hepatic artery aneurysms (A) represents 20% of visceral artery aneurysms and are caused by atherosclerosis, infection, and abdominal trauma. Clinical presentation can mimic cholecystitis. Inferior mesenteric artery aneurysms(B) are uncommon. Superior mesenteric artery aneurysms (D) are the 3rd-most common visceral aneurysms. IV drug abusers are at increased risk.

2. D. This patient presents with hemorrhagic shock from a penetrating abdominal trauma and should be immediately transferred to the operating room for an exploratory laparotomy. Stab wounds are the most common form of penetrating trauma. About 70% of anterior stab wounds penetrate the peritoneum. It is difficult to predict the specific organ injured based on the external location of the wound. Initial management should focus on securing the airway, assessing and supporting the patients breathing and circulation. IV access and supplemental oxygen should be provided. In hypotensive trauma patients, early blood transfusion should be initiated and consideration should be made for massive transfusion protocol. Concomitant with the primary and secondary survey, a Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) exam should be performed. The speed and accuracy of the FAST has almost completely replaced the need for diagnostic peritoneal lavage. In a FAST exam, images are obtained of the splenorenal space, hepatorenal space (Morrison’s pouch), heart and bladder (pouch of Douglas). A FAST exam has high sensitivity in detecting as little as 100 ml of fluid. A FAST examination showing free fluid in any of the abdominal views in the presence of hypotension should lead to the patient being transported to the operating room for exploratory laparotomy according to the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) algorithm. Angiographic embolization (A) is useful in patients with pelvic fractures and bleeding from pelvic vessels. CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis (B) can be performed in trauma patients who are stable to further assess for injuries.Diagnostic peritoneal lavage (C) does not play a role in management of penetrating trauma patients with hypotension and positive FAST examination.