SonoCase: Renal Ultrasound for Renal Colic: a cost/benefit analysis? by @EPMonthly #FOAMed

Once again, Drs. Teresa Wu and Brady Pregerson do an excellent job in highlighting a case in EP Monthly (and a topic that I am so incredibly passionate about – not only because of the benefit to the patient, the minimizing of CT scans/radiation, and the time spent in its work up – but also in health care cost and expediting diagnosis and management.) What am I talking about? Well, RENAL ULTRASOUND for RENAL COLIC. Yeah, I know, it sounds obvious. But, I heard of a patient the other day (again!) who had a known history of kidney stones, who had the same pain as her prior kidney stone flank pain, who begged to not have yet another CT scan done since it would have been her 13th for this at the age of 40. I highlighted this topic and other studies on it in a prior post, and AIUM posted a sound judgment series written by Drs. Chris Moore and Leslie Scoutt on this topic too.

So, let’s talk about TWu and Brady’s addition to the mix. Of course, they always start off their case with humor, yet reality, by saying : “I have to do a cost-benefit analysis of the situation,” your eager intern replies. It’s the end of the academic year and you are forcing your soon-to-be R2s to become more autonomous and confident in their management plans. You are amazed at the various answers you now get when you ask the simple question, “What do you want to do?” You ask your intern to summarize the case for you. He just finished evaluating a 21-year-old male who presented to your ED with back pain. The patient states that his “back is killing him” and he thinks he strained his muscles working out too hard at the gym last week. He just started doing CrossFit and he’s worried that he overdid it. The patient notes that the pain is 10/10 and that he has had minimal relief with his friend’s Vicodin. He’s tried icing his back and even sat in the hot tub all weekend per his friend’s recommendation. Nothing is working so his friend told him to come into the ED to get a prescription for something “stronger.”……

“Your question about whether or not this young 21 year old needs any imaging is giving him pause. “I think the cost of the imaging and the risk of radiation are too high. I don’t think there’s much benefit to keeping the patient here any longer. Plus I don’t know what we’d be looking for,” he replies. You are happy with your intern’s logic and pop into the room to see the patient. Within seconds, you realize that Vicodin and a hot tub probably won’t fix this patient’s pain. The patient is sitting hunched over on the stretcher rocking back and forth in pain. He has no appreciable tenderness to palpation over any of his back muscles, and there is no asymmetry or tightness on your exam. You are unable to reproduce or worsen his symptoms with testing his range of motion, but he is definitely rubbing his right lower back to try to ease his pain. You walk out of the patient’s room and grab your intern and the ultrasound machine. As you head back towards the patient’s room, you pimp your intern on the other more serious causes of low back pain. Acknowledging that you have the ultrasound machine in tow, your clever intern starts rattling off the diagnoses that can be easily made with bedside ultrasound. AAA, atypical appendicitis, cholecystitis, nephrolithiasis, abscess, etc. Since the patient is sitting upright and hunched over in pain, your intern decides to start his scan with a view of the right flank….”

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BAM! oh yeah – do you see it? Weren’t expecting that? Funny what happens when you look, right? You must read about their findings and the pearls and pitfalls of renal ultrasound – go here for the true meat of the article.

SonoCase: Pregnant pt with 1st trimester vaginal bleeding/pelvic pain in @EPMonthly #FOAMed

Drs. Teresa Wu and Brady Pregerson bring another engaging discussion to the great question: Should someone with a prior vaginal ultrasound for pregnancy evaluation get another one with repeat visits to the emergency department? Well, as they will describe, it may not be needed, but it sure does help patient satisfaction (and especially relief if they are concerned about their baby). So, if you do, it is all about your ability to interpret the images correctly. They identify some great vaginal/pelvic ultrasound pearls and pitfalls to keep in mind in the end of the following case:

“There are twenty-eight patients in the waiting room with the longest waiting 4 hours. The queue for CT scans is over 2 hours and the one for ultrasounds is even longer; a staggering 4 hours, plus another hour to get results. Lots of people are frustrated. Your next two patients are both pregnant females in their first trimester with vaginal bleeding. As you perform your H & P, you encounter more similarities between the two. Both have midline crampy pain like a period, with no fever, no vomiting, and no syncope. Both recently had ultrasounds done, one in your ED 3 days ago, and one with her obstetrician four days ago. You know why they are here. One reason – they want to see if their baby still has a heartbeat. You also know that repeating the ultrasound is not really medically indicated using the strict sense of the word. Sure it’s reasonable, even customary, but will it change management tonight? Can’t they just see their OB tomorrow? Is it really the right way to practice medicine to clog up your department even worse while simultaneously adding one more straw to the camel carrying the national healthcare budget? Who are you going to listen to? Press and Ganey? Barack Obama? Your conscience? What will the parents think and how will they react if you tell them, “Sorry, we can’t do an ultrasound tonight. You have to go home and make an appointment tomorrow to see your doctor.”?

The following ultrasound images are obtained in each patient:

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Do you know how to interpret them? Read more on vaginal ultrasound and their great pearls and pitfalls here.

Great pearls to keep in mind:

gestational sac only – early intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) or pseudosac of an ectopic pregnancy

gestational sac with yolks sac or fetal pole – early IUP

gestational sac with fetal pole and cardiac activity – LIVE IUP

For a review on the beta hcg (and if we can /should use ti anymore) and early pregnancy evaluation with ultrasound, go here.

SonoCase: 45 yr male- flank pain & hematuria- not always a kidney stone – by Dr. Marzec et al. in @westjem #FOAMed

Western Journal of Emergency Medicine must be great proponents of bedside ultrasound! I love that journal! Of course, I am biased as I am one of the section editors, but these cases deserve mention. There have been quite a few in the March 2013 issue and this case in particular is a great review of renal ultrasound and what to lookout for in bedside ultrasound. Limited renal ultrasound typically involves an evaluation for hydronephrosis, but it is important to know what normal ultrasound anatomy looks like, as you may identify something else…. Dr. Marzec et al. at USC do a great job at discussing their case, describing their ultrasound, and giving a literature review on the finding. The case:

“A 45-year-old male with no previous medical history presented to the emergency department (ED) with 1 week of hematuria and left flank pain. The patient had noted that over the preceding 4 days his urine had progressed from a pink color to dark red. He had also experienced left flank pain that was sharp, non-radiating, and increasing in severity over the week prior to presentation. He denied a history of renal calculi, weight loss, fevers, fatigue, or abdominal masses. Upon physical examination, his vital signs included blood pressure of 157/89 mmHg, heart rate of 64 beats/min, temperature of 97.4 °F, respiratory rate of 18 breaths/min, and oxygen saturation of 99% on room air. The patient appeared comfortable. His abdomen was soft, non-tender and non-distended. The patient had left-sided costo-vertebral angle tenderness to palpation. There was frank hematuria in the urine sample at bedside. Subsequent microscopic analysis revealed > 50 red blood cells and 4–10 white blood cells. Bedside emergency ultrasound (EUS), initially performed to look for hydronephrosis, showed ….”

To read on the case, what happened, and a great review of the literature of ultrasound’s utility with this finding compared to other imaging modalities, go here.

SonoCase: 54yr old abdominal pain, fever, vomiting – common US app by Dr. Hisset @emnews #FOAMed

The May 2013 issue of EM News highlights one of the basic, yet most difficult, ultrasound applications to perform. It is one of the most common abdominal applications given how common the disease process shows itself in the emergency department. Nice work to Dr. Hisset, a first year resident! from Louisiana, on writing this review.

The case: “A 54-year-old woman presents to the emergency department with four days of fever, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. She reports that all of this started after eating pork at a casino buffet. She is not jaundiced on exam, but has severe pain to palpation of the entire abdomen, worst in the right upper quadrant with a positive Murphy’s sign. Her blood pressure is 96/52 mm Hg, pulse is 110 bpm, and her temperature is 100.4°F. Fluid resuscitation is started, and a bedside ultrasound is performed.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 9.33.44 AMTo find out what they found and a description of the application in a concise format, go here.

SonoCase: 22yr old male blunt trauma to scrotum – by Dr. Cannis et al. in @westjem #FOAMed

March 2013 was a great month for ultrasound case reports and publications – especially in Western Journal of Emergency Medicine! Once again, the team from USC highlight a case where ultrasound is used at its best. As they state: “its greatest asset lies in the ability to rapidly make the diagnosis of a time-sensitive medical condition, enabling the [emergency phsyician] to mobilize resources and expedite treatment, which might otherwise be delayed. The use of [emergency] US for the evaluation of scrotal injury from blunt trauma exemplifies this point.” Isn’t it great when you include ultrasound in your examination of a patient who you will call a specialist for anyway, but to also describe the injury to them in detail, including whether there is hematoma, blood flow, or other findings – and expedite specialty care? YES! They do an excellent job in describing scrotal anatomy, the risks of missing injuries, and the findings of the case while reviewing scrotal ultrasound and the literature around it as well. This is worth the time to read it!

The case: “22-year-old male with no significant past medical history presented to the Emergency department approximately 3 hours after he was in an altercation, during which he sustained multiple blows to the head, stomach, and genital area with a large flashlight. His primary complaint was of severe testicular pain.

Physical examination revealed a calm, well-developed male in mild distress due to pain. Vital signs included a blood pressure 132/85 mmHg, heart rate of 90 beats per minute, respiratory rate 16 breaths per minute, and temperature 98.9°F. On examination of the genitals, the penis was normal. His scrotum was enlarged to approximately the size of a grapefruit, and the overlying skin was erythematous. The scrotal area was exquisitely tender to palpation, making it impossible to reliably identify or examine either testis, despite the use of parenteral opioid analgesia. A urinalysis was obtained, which was normal and notably negative for blood.” The ultrasound study showed:

Read on more, as there are more videos, and a great description of scrotal trauma and injuries with an evidence based review.

 

A great pictorial review of testicular ultrasound and pathology, go here.

SonoCase: 61yr old with leg swelling, chronic cough, intermittent chest pressure – by Dr. Torregrossa et al. in @westJEM #FOAMed

This case is one where if I were the doctor, my immediate response may have been hidden from the patient. Inside voice would NOT have stayed in. Wow! Dr. Torregrossa and the team at USC discuss a case published in March 2013 Western Journal of Emergency Medicine of a patient where there obviously was no bedside ultrasound performed for the duration of his symptoms. “How long was that?” you may ask… ONE YEAR! Wow! He saw his doctor (check), he got a chest Xray (check), he got an EKG (check). Good thing he finally got an ultrasound study ….

The case: “61-year-old male with a 1-year history of bilateral lower extremity swelling and a chronic cough was referred to the emergency department (ED) for an abnormal echocardiogram. The patient also reported experiencing intermittent episodes of chest pressure. He stated that he was referred from his doctor after he received a cardiac echocardiography examination that showed possible mitral valve vegetations. On review of systems, he also admitted to intermittent chest palpitations. On physical examination, his vital signs included a blood pressure of 127/75 mmHg, heart rate of 80 per minute and regular, respiratory rate of 18 per minute, pulse oximetry of 98% and temperature of 98.0°F. The rest of the physical examination was normal. An electrocardiogram demonstrated normal sinus rhythm and the chest radiograph was unremarkable. ED bedside ultrasound (EUS) showed….”

To read on the topic so that you will know some of the literature behind it – go here.

SonoCase: 32yr old with right flank pain, fever, cough – by Dr. McKaigney in @westJEM

In the March 2013 issue of Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, Dr. McKaigney highlights a case that illustrates there is more to a thoracic and right upper quadrant bedside ultrasound study than just free fluid, renal and gallbladder evaluation. You must look everywhere and appreciate when something looks abnormal. I always say, know what NORMAL looks like, because when you see something abnormal, you’ll identify at least that, then want to find out what that abnormality is by further testing.

The case: “A 35-year old male presents to the emergency department (ED) with what he describes as right-sided upper back and flank pain, which he attributes to a “cupping” procedure the day prior. The cupping procedure is an alternative medicine practice that uses local suction to theoretically stimulate blood flow and promote healing. He had no previous issues with the procedure. On further history he reported having had approximately 6 weeks of intermittent fevers, cough, anorexia and general malaise. He had seen multiple naturopathic physicians for these complaints, before an urgent care visit one week earlier. At that time, he had been started on azithromycin and doxycycline for a presumptive diagnosis of pneumonia. In the interim week he reported an improvement in his febrile symptoms and overall well-being. He was an otherwise healthy heterosexual male, without drug use or travel outside the country. He had no known sick contacts.

On physical examination his vital signs included a blood pressure of 116/75 mmHg, a heart rate of 119 beats per minute, and a respiratory rate of 20 breaths per minute. His temperature in the ED was 36.2°C. Oxygen (O2) saturation was 97% on room air. The patient was alert, and appropriate with no signs of respiratory distress. Pertinent physical findings revealed typical, non-tender cupping marks on his back. More concerning was an absence of breath sounds on the right side of the chest on auscultation. His abdomen was soft and non-tender. The remainder of the physical examination was non-contributory.

The initial diagnostic test ordered was a chest radiograph, which showed 80% opacification of the right hemithorax, consistent with pneumonia and associated parapneumonic effusion seen in Figure 1. A bedside ultrasound was subsequently performed in the ED, initially in order to examine the size of the pleural effusion in which a startling discovery was made…..”

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So, “what is that?” – you may be asking…. and what happened to the patient, what can be done about it, and what is the evidence based review on the topic? Read on as Dr. McKaigney does an excellent job in discussing it all….here