Episode 70 – Nonpregnant Vaginal Bleeding


The WOMAN trial of tranexamic acid (TXA) for post-partum hemorrhage has been covered well by several free open access medical education (FOAM) sources.  We review the trial and coverage from the following excellent sites:

The Core Content

We have previously covered vaginal bleeding after the first trimester and ectopic pregnancies and first tri, ester vaginal bleeding. In this episode we cover non-pregnant vaginal bleeding using Rosen’s Emergency Medicine (8th ed), Chapter 100 , Tintialli’s Emergency Medicine (8th ed), Chapter 96 and the ACOG guidelines as guides.

Rosh Review Emergency Board Review Questions

A 32-year-old woman presents with vaginal bleeding for 2 weeks. She states she has about 1 pad of bleeding every 2-3 hours. Vital signs are stable and physical exam only reveals blood from the cervical os. The patient’s hemoglobin is 12 g/dl and her pregnancy test is negative. What treatment is indicated for this patient?

A. Admission for dilation and curettage

B. Combination oral contraceptives

C. Hysterectomy

D. Intravenous estrogen therapy

B. This patient presents with non-life threatening dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB), which can initially be managed with combination oral contraceptives. DUB is typically split into anovulatory (90%) and ovulatory (10%). In patients with vaginal bleeding of childbearing age, the most important first step in diagnosis is to rule out pregnancy. After this, it is important to explore other causes including medications, genital tract pathology and systemic disease. Once these are excluded, a diagnosis of DUB can be reached. Some treatments include NSAIDs that inhibit PGE1 production and can both relieve cramping and pain and also decrease bleeding. In anovulatory bleeding, combination oral contraceptive pills can aid in regulating the menstrual cycle and counteract the effects of unopposed estrogen. Typically, patients are instructed to take combination oral contraceptive pills twice a day for 5-7 days or until the bleeding stops followed by once daily dosing. Dilation and curettage (A) is typically offered to patients with heavy vaginal bleeding evidenced by hemodynamic instability. A hysterectomy (C) is rarely needed in the treatment of DUB but is indicated for patients with heavy bleeding and hemodynamic instability in which conservative management fails. Intravenous estrogen therapy (D) is effective in stopping heavy bleeding, but is not considered first line therapy.

A 55-year-old postmenopausal woman presents with a complaint of vaginal bleeding. Which of the following is the most appropriate next step in management?

A. Abdominal ultrasound

B. Endometrial biopsy

C. Hysterectomy

D. Watchful waiting


Vaginal bleeding after menopause is an abnormal finding. The most common cause of vaginal bleeding after menopause is atrophy of the vaginal mucosa or endometrium, however 5-10% of postmenopausal women with vaginal bleeding have endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer is potentially lethal, therefore any postmenopausal woman who presents with vaginal bleeding needs to be evaluated to rule out this etiology. After a careful history and physical exam, initial diagnostic testing to rule out endometrial cancer involves either endometrial biopsy or transvaginal ultrasound. Advantages of an endometrial biopsy include its high sensitivity, low cost and low incidence of complications. Women who need evaluation of the adnexa or myometrium, or who can’t tolerate endometrial biopsy should be referred for transvaginal ultrasound. If either test is inconclusive, further testing is warranted. Cervical cancer screening should also be a part of the workup for postmenopausal vaginal bleeding.

Abdominal ultrasound (A) is not recommended for women with postmenopausal vaginal bleeding. If ultrasound needs to be used, transvaginal ultrasound is the appropriate diagnostic test to order. Postmenopausal women with an endometrial thickness < 3-4 mm on transvaginal ultrasound are unlikely to have endometrial carcinoma. Hysterectomy (C) may be indicated based on the results of the diagnostic imaging, but is not an initial step in management of postmenopausal vaginal bleeding. All women who present with postmenopausal vaginal bleeding should be evaluated with either endometrial biopsy or transvaginal ultrasound, there is no role for watchful waiting (D).


Episode 69 – Urinary Tract Infections


We cover Free Open Access Medical Education (FOAM) from a recent Emergency Medicine Cases podcast and First10inEM blog post by Dr. Justin Morganstern regarding urinary tract infections (UTIs).   This podcast and blog tackle common issues in UTI diagnosis and treatment, including the following points:

  • UTI is a clinical diagnosis, a dirty urine does not mean the patient has a UTI
  • Urinalyses are more complicated to interpret than we probably understand

The Core Content

Rosen’s Emergency Medicine (8th ed), Chapter 99; Tintialli’s Emergency Medicine (8th ed), Chapter 91; IDSA Guidelines for Treatment and Asymptomatic Bacteriuria

UTI diagnosis

Asymptomatic bacteriuria

UTI Treatment

Rosh Review Emergency Board Review Questions

A 6-year-old girl presents with 4 days of lower abdominal pain. The patient complains of dysuria. On exam, the patient is afebrile and has mild tenderness to palpation in the suprapubic area. No costovertebral tenderness is elicited on exam. A clean-catch urine sample is sent for urinalysis. If positive, which of the following is the most specific to confirm the diagnosis?

A. Glucose

B. Leukocyte esterase

C. Nitrites

D. WBCs (>5 per high power field)


C. The patient’s presentation is consistent with an uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI). The most common cause of a UTI in children >1 year of age is E. coli. Nitrites normally are not found in urine but result when bacteria reduce urinary nitrates to nitrites. Many Gram-negative and some Gram-positive organisms are capable of this conversion, and a positive dipstick nitrite test indicates that these organisms are present in significant numbers (i.e., more than 10,000 per mL). This test is specific (92%–100%) but not highly sensitive (19%–48%). A positive result is helpful, but a negative result does not rule out UTI. The nitrite dipstick reagent is sensitive to air exposure, so containers should be closed immediately after removing a strip. After 1 week of exposure, 33% of strips give false-positive results, and after 2 weeks, 75% give false-positive results. Non-nitrate-reducing organisms also may cause false-negative results, and patients who consume a low-nitrate diet may have false-negative results.

Glucose (A) normally is filtered by the glomerulus, but it is almost completely reabsorbed in the proximal tubule. Glycosuria occurs when the filtered load of glucose exceeds the ability of the tubule to reabsorb it (i.e., 180–200 mg per dL). Etiologies include diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s syndrome, liver and pancreatic disease, and Fanconi’s syndrome. Leukocyte esterase (B) is produced by neutrophils and may signal pyuria associated with UTI. It has a sensitivity of 72%­–97% and specificity of 41%–86%. Leukocyte casts in the urinary sediment can help localize the area of inflammation to the kidney. Organisms such as Chlamydia and Ureaplasma urealyticum should be considered in patients with pyuria and negative cultures. Other causes of sterile pyuria include balanitis, urethritis, tuberculosis, bladder tumors, viral infections, nephrolithiasis, foreign bodies, exercise, glomerulonephritis, and corticosteroid and cyclophosphamide use. Leukocytes (D) may be seen under low- and high-power magnification. Men normally have fewer than 2 white blood cells (WBCs) per HPF; women normally have fewer than 5 WBCs per HPF; >5 WBCs/HPF is associated with a 90%–96% sensitivity and 47%–50% specificity.

A 24-year old woman presents with URI symptoms. She is 32 weeks pregnant. As part of her work-up, you order a urinalysis, which shows 2+ bacteria with no WBCs. Two days later, the lab calls you and informs you that the urine culture is positive. You call the patient back and she denies symptoms of urinary tract infection. With regards to the urine culture results, what treatment is indicated?

A. Cephalexin 500 mg QID for 7 days

B. Ciprofloxacin 500 mg QID for 7 days

C. No treatment is necessary

D. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole 1 DS tablet BID for 3 days


A. The patient has asymptomatic bacteriuria of pregnancy confirmed by a positive urine culture and should be treated with an oral antibiotic that is known to be safe in pregnancy, such as cephalexin 500 mg QID for 7 days. Asymptomatic bacteriuria is common in the general population and in most scenarios does not require therapy. However due to the high risk of complication seen during pregnancy, it should be treated with antibiotics. It is seen in 2-10% of pregnant women and is commonly due to E. coli. Pregnant women have an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections due to the pressure that the enlarged uterus exerts on the ureters and bladder, incomplete emptying during voiding and impaired ureteral peristalsis from progesterone-induced relaxation of the ureteral smooth muscle. Complications of untreated asymptomatic bacteriuria include development of a lower urinary tract infection, pyelonephritis, renal abscess, renal failure, bacteremia, sepsis, intrauterine growth retardation, premature labor and neonatal death. Treatment options generally include cephalosporins, such as cephalexin, amoxicillin (or amoxicillin-clavulanate) and nitrofurantoin. All of which are recognized as Category B by the Food and Drug Administration; meaning that animal studies have failed to show a risk to the fetus. Treatment duration should be for 7-10 days.

Ciprofloxacin (B) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (D) are Category C and D, respectively, and therefore should be avoided in pregnancy when possible. Because there is increased risk for complication during pregnancy, antibiotic treatment (C) is recommended.


Gupta K et al. International Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Uncomplicated Cystitis and Pyelonephritis in Women: A 2010 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.  Infect Dis (2011) 52 (5): e103-e120.

Nicolle L et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Adults.   Infect Dis (2005) 40 (5): 643-654.

Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, 8th ed. Chapter 99.

Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine, 8th ed.  Chapter 91.