SonoCase: 46yo c/o abdominal pain h/o cocaine use – sup mesenteric art dissection #FOAMed

Drs. Davis and Kendall write up a very interesting case in the Aug 2013 issue of Journal of EM where the ultrasound made the diagnosis, quite easily too. They discuss a 46 year old male with a history of current cocaine use AND a prior history of an aortic dissection, of course, who was complaining of sudden onset of abdominal pain and found to be severely hypertensive. The diagnosis on the top of their list was aortic dissection/aneurysm/rupture – and when they looked, they saw even more. Below is the abstract:

Background

A timely diagnosis of aortic dissection is associated with lower mortality. The use of emergent bedside ultrasound has been described to diagnose aortic dissection. However, there is limited literature regarding the use of bedside ultrasound to identify superior mesenteric artery dissection, a known high-risk feature of aortic dissection.

Objective

Our aim was to present a case of superior mesenteric artery dissection identified by bedside ultrasound and review the utility of bedside ultrasound in the diagnosis of aortic emergencies.

Case Report

We report a case of superior mesenteric artery dissection found on emergent bedside ultrasound in a 46-year-old male complaining of abdominal pain with a history of cocaine abuse and prior aortic dissection. Bedside ultrasound in the emergency department revealed an intimal flap in the descending aorta with extension into the superior mesenteric artery prompting early surgical consultation before computed tomography because of concern for acute mesenteric ischemia.

Conclusion

Superior mesenteric artery dissection is a high-risk feature of aortic dissection and can be identified with emergent bedside ultrasound.

Just one of their images is displayed below – but take a look at the video in JEM to truly see the awesomeness. A subscription and password is required, but it’s a great journal with lots of cool ultrasound cases published almost every month.

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SonoCase: 60yo blunt chest trauma, 82yo with chest pain- in JEM by @ultrasoundREL

In a recent article in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Resa Lewiss and friends, discuss 2 cases of thoracic aortic aneurysm identification by focused cardiac ultrasound. It is a great case report that highlights the need to include the aortic root and descending thoracic aorta in the parasternal long view of your focused cardiac echo.

“A 60-year-old man presented to the emergency department (ED) after a blunt traumatic injury to his back while at work. During the focused cardiac ultrasound examination, the aortic outflow tract distal to the aortic valve appeared enlarged and the aortic root measured 5.49 cm.

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“An 82-year-old man with hypertension presented to the ED with 1 month of chest pain radiating to the back. The focused cardiac ultrasound examination demonstrated enlargement of the descending thoracic aorta at 4.82 cm.”

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SonoMedStudent: Integrating in Ultrasound into the First year of Med school by Dr Tarina Kang #FOAMed

Dr, Tarina Kang, the Ultrasound Director at USC, wrote to the Editor of Advances in Medical Education and Practice in the Aug 2013 journal . She poses quite a good argument for ultrasound in medical education ( with references ) and also discusses how she found it to be best done in the first year – a great read:

Dear editor,

For over 100 years, medical schools throughout the United States have typically followed a standardized curriculum that clearly delineates the preclinical (basic and clinical sciences) and clinical years (patient encounters and care).1 However, the transfer of learning that is derived from isolated data of basic science to clinically relevant information has been a topic of much debate and study throughout the years.

Recently, educators have attempted to unite the preclinical and bedside principles in an effort to make the basic sciences more relevant to medical practice. Basic, clinical, and social sciences are taught simultaneously to reaffirm “the importance of the relationship between the practitioner and patient. Further, the practitioner should focus [on the patient] as a whole, be informed by evidence, and make use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, health care professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.”2 Although implementation of an integrated learning curriculum in medical school poses political, logistical, and financial challenges, its rewards for the student may be profound.

The ideal approach to integrating basic science material with the practice of medicine is complex in that educators often have to incorporate innovative and pertinent student experiences, without compromising the existing curriculum requirements. The sheer amount of information that first year medical students are required to learn makes inclusion of additive curriculum difficult. However, it behooves course directors to constantly test, change, and expand course curriculums to maximize the educational benefit to students.

There are a number of ways to implement clinical practice into the first year courses of medical school, with the theoretically most successful ones being those that can be brought to the student during class, where other students and instructors are present for more in-depth and collaborative discussion. Point-of-care ultrasound was developed by emergency physicians in an effort to better evaluate the patient at the bedside. More recently, ultrasound has become an important educational and clinical tool across all specialties due to its ease of use, portability, and applicability at the bedside. Many institutions have integrated bedside ultrasound teaching into the clinical years of medical school. Several US institutions such as Wayne State, Ohio State, and the University of South Carolina have implemented ultrasound curriculums that span from the first year to the entire 4 years of medical school.35 In 2012 Fox et al6at the University of California (Irvine, CA, USA) implemented a novel medical curriculum which integrated web-based lectures and peer instruction for Year I students. They were successfully able to maximize teaching and practice time and integrate practical medicine into the basic science courses. Given the success of these programs and the potential educational benefit they afford students, a seamless introduction of ultrasound into the first year courses at our affiliated medical school seemed like a natural progression.

The goal of the project was to integrate ultrasound, a practical clinical modality, into the preclinical educational experience, specifically, during the anatomy and histology classes and laboratory sessions. The ultrasound instructors successfully completed a 10-week course which combined anatomy and histology laboratory sessions, small group sessions, and lectures. After a year of planning, we successfully integrated ultrasound into the course in a way which emphasized how teaching in a dynamic and safe manner with the ultrasound can illuminate the structural relativity of human anatomy.

The novelty of this curricular change in a course that has never had this type of teaching before was itself an impediment. I think that, in retrospect, the adage “There is strength in numbers” is a proverb one should follow when attempting to implement a new course at a medical school. The more people you know who represent different specialties and ranks in both the hospital and the medical school, the higher the likelihood for continued success of the course.

When I started this project, I was naive to the accepted conduct and decorum that one is expected to follow when trying to introduce unprecedented ideas into the medical school curriculum. I had an idea worthy of pursuing, I created a plan to implement it, and I spoke to the directors of the course, but I did not attempt to gain crucial allies in the medical school who could have accelerated its acceptance. The legacy of new projects and teaching initiatives at medical schools will constantly be endangered unless there is consistent support at the administrative level. As a result, although I had the full support from the course directors, I did not have the complete acceptance of the laboratory professors and instructors who taught the course. This disconnection manifested in frustration and bewilderment by some students attending our course during their teaching time. In addition, because there was no formal explanation of our pilot to the students, some were unable to fully grasp the concept of an integrated educational forum, and noted on course feedback their lack of understanding as to why, and how, point-of-care ultrasound correlates with anatomy and histology. This problem could have been curtailed, at least in some part, by a formal acknowledgment made by not only the course directors but also the administration. With this knowledge, we reached out to several medical school administrators, and we are in talks with them to gain valuable insight and input for further direction for next year’s course. In addition, we are recruiting physicians from different specialties to broaden the type of expertise in our curriculum.

Although I encountered barriers, the experience was invaluable. It helped me understand, with startling clarity, the political structure of medical education. I have since moved to another academic medical center, and we are scheduled to begin talks to create an integrated curriculum with first year medical students. The next time I introduce myself though, I think I’ll bring my friends.”

Go to this article’s link for a list of the references as well.

To read posts on US in Medical Education done at AIUM and other institutions, and see what others are doing and saying about it, go here.

SonoMetaAnalysis: Errors in Emergency Ultrasound – When/What/Why & the lawsuits #FOAMed

In the July 2013 issue of Critical Ultrasound Journal, the authors did a meta-analysis of all studies relating to emergency ultrasound and the diagnostic errors that occur and Ill explain why It’s fascinating. When you read through the details, the reasons are clear and the issues may be obvious. The authors (from Italy who practice ultrasound in different settings with description of emergency ultrasound a bit different than the way we do it here) searched utilizing different association of the following terms from 1990-2013: (1) emergency ultrasonography, (2) error, (3) malpractice and (4) medical negligence –  restricted to human studies and to English-language literature. The abstract of 171 articles appeared appropriate while other articles were recognized by reviewing the reference lists of significant papers. The full text of 48 selected articles was reviewed.

I do disagree with some of the way the authors described emergency ultrasound. I believe in their effort to show their study’s importance, they state: “Emergency US is particularly susceptible to errors, more than any other diagnostic imaging technique: in fact, the misinterpretation of sonographic images should be considered as a serious risk in US-based diagnosis [8]”  - they are referencing an article by radiologists on US artifacts on clinical sonography. So, that’s weird.

Another item that I felt was strange was that many of the references to emergency ultrasound were actually those done by radiologists. I couldnt find one emergency medicine ultrasound article. Thi sis likely due to the practice differences between europeans and Americans with emergency ultrasound, but ….hmmm, it gets even more interesting, and I will likely get even more critical. Im sure the radiologists did an outstanding job in their (or their lab tech’s) image acquisition, but the reasons for diagnostic errors stated by the authors of this study now make sense when you take into account the above:

Reasons for Errors in Emergency Ultrasound: “Causes of error in emergency ultrasonography are multifactorial, frequently exist in combination as in other diagnostic imaging techniques [9,10] and include: lack of attention to the clinical history and examination, lack of communication with the patient (who may be uncooperative), lack of knowledge of the technical equipment, use of inappropriate probes, inadequate optimization of the images, failure of perception, lack of knowledge of the possible differential diagnoses, over-estimation of one’s own skill, failure to suggest further ultrasound examinations or other imaging techniques (such as CT or MRI) [11-16]“

The authors then go on to further describe the errors. The discuss the importance of the amount of gel, the correct probe used, the adequate technique, and how artifacts can get in the way. They also state something that i completely agree with – it also depends on the operator. But, they use the example of:  “Modern ultrasound equipment is certainly adequate for producing images that permit diagnosis of anomalies such as open lumbosacral spina bifida or atrioventricular septal defect. However, such diagnoses can only be made if considerable operator skill is associated with knowledge and experience.” So, not sure how to put this, but that’s NOT emergency ultrasound. So, I cannot relate. But, good on those who do it in emergency practice…who am I to say differently – you never know, as our scope of practice continues to increase.

The authors finally discuss errors in the emergency setting, again done by radiologists with references authored in radiology literature from over 10-15 years ago…. and state what we all know and can appreciate: “Quick diagnosis and treatment of patients with whom we have had no previous contact, and who, quite often, may be uncooperative, and/or under the influence of alcohol or drugs creates an environment with significant risk [27]. The frequency of reported “missed diagnoses” depends on how the frequency of error was assessed: based on trauma registries, error rates were approximately 2% [28], while retrospective chart review found approximately 40% [29], and retrospective review of all admissions revealed missed or delayed diagnoses of approximately 8%-10% [28-30]……Moreover, the sonographer should evaluate the patient in terms of physical constitution (in obese patients, the thickness of subcutaneous fat and the sound-attenuating properties of fat present challenges) and the presence of conditions potentially limiting the examination (such as obliged decubitus, scars, etc.). The sonographer should be aware of the limitations of the technique in the evaluation of the traumatized patients, asking for other diagnostic imaging procedures (Multidetector row Computed Tomography).” – The authors dont state the errors made nor any litigation made in the emergency setting – interesting, right? That may be because the studies that were queried were not including those of emergency medicine bedside, limited, focused, goal directed, – or whatever you want to call it – ultrasound. There was something interesting though:

As far as litigation is concerned, the authors state ” The earliest litigation related to diagnostic ultrasound occurred in 1974 and involved obstetric measurements. Before 1974, images were so difficult to interpret that ultrasonography was considered of little value apart from obstetric measurement data and for characterizing masses as cysts [19]” They reference an article by J Ultrasound in Medicine done by ObGyn and is a fascinating read on ObGyn litigation as relating to ultrasound, but also does not necessarily speak about emergency ultrasound and our limited studies that we perform. That article states (in relation to ObGyn litigation): “There has been a change in the main target of litigation over time: in the 1980s, ectopic pregnancy was the most common reason for litigation; today, litigation related to a missed fetal anomaly is the most frequent indication. Invented lesions, often seen in past years, almost never occur today. With greater adherence to guidelines, failure to perform sonography for a recognized indication has become a cause of litigation. Well-recognized obstetric ultrasound guidelines, in one respect, provide protection for those who perform faultless series and yet find no abnormalities when they are present and, in another respect, cause problems for those who do not document all the images required by the guidelines when abnormalities are subsequently found.”   Why is this interesting? Well, one of the best studies to date on true emergency medicine ultrasound litigation comes from Dr. Michael Blaivas and Dr. Pawl. First off, there were no law suits on emergency physicians who performed and interpreted bedside ultrasound studies in their review of 659 cases. But, there was one on a physician who chose not to perform it when it was available and indicated – and ectopic pregnancy case.

Lastly, I do agree with this : “Ultrasound scanners, however, are relatively inexpensive and highly effective in the hands of a trained operator. More importantly, ultrasound is a “sustainable technology” for developing and impoverished nations because of its relatively low cost of purchase, low cost for maintenance and supplies, portability, and durability in comparison with all other imaging modalities [47]. Moreover, early education of operators is a priority that can begin to be addressed in medical school. The practice of ultrasound has clearly been shown to be operator-dependent, and the way to train better operators is to start early, provide opportunities for practice, and standardize curriculum that will ultimately align with residency requirements in the various specialties [48]” – This latter reference was the first emergency medicine one I saw – Nice job Dr. David Bahner ! (who was the coordinator of the Ultrasound in Medical Education at AIUM in April 2013).

Other great articles relevant to this and what we should do about incidental findings:

Blaivas M, Pawl R. Analysis of lawsuits filed against emergency physicians for point-of-care emergency ultrasound examination performance and interpretation over a 20-year period. Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Feb;30(2):338-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2010.12.016. Epub 2011 Jan 28.

Lanitis S, Zacharioudakis C, Zafeiriadou P, Armoutides V, Karaliotas C, Sgourakis G. Incidental findings in trauma patients during focused assessment with sonography for trauma. Am Surg. 2012 Mar;78(3):366-72

Fox JC, Richardson AG, Lopez S, Solley M, Lotfipour S. Implications and approach to incidental findings in live ultrasound models. West J Emerg Med. 2011 Nov;12(4):472-4. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2011.2.2054.

SonoCase: 60yo in cardiac arrest in @EPMonthly by @TeresaWuMD @TheSafetyDoc #FOAMed

In the recent issue of Emergency Physician’s Monthly (one of my favorite EM magazines), Drs. Teresa Wu and Brady Pregerson once again hit the ultrasound wave and start soaring in their newest insert describing the utility of bedside ultrasound during cardiac arrest and post-mortem.

They describe it best: ” ….60-year-old male who collapsed at work and remained unresponsive. They state that there was bystander CPR and a lot of freaking out by coworkers. The only past history they have was from a coworker who thought he had high blood pressure. There was also a witness who told them he was just walking, then doubled over and collapsed without saying a thing. No one knew if he had any symptoms earlier in the day. Paramedics state he was initially in a PEA rhythm at a rate of 120 bpm on the monitor. They started an IV, gave him a 500cc saline bolus, intubated him, and have given three rounds of epi. They estimate a 15 minute down time prior to their arrival and a 10 minute transport time with no return of spontaneous circulation. In fact, things are going in the opposite direction as he has been in asystole for the past five minutes.

They move him onto the bed where your EMT takes over CPR. You note good and symmetric assisted breath sounds via the ET tube, but minimal palpable femoral pulse despite what appears to be good CPR to the tempo of the Bee Gees hit “Staying Alive”. On the monitor there is asystole in two leads. Pupils are fixed and dilated despite no atropine having been received. Things are not looking promising.

You request saline wide open and a final round of epinephrine while you take a look for cardiac motion with the ultrasound machine. To minimize interruption of CPR you don’t have the EMT pause until you are completely ready to look. You also have the RT hold respirations to avoid any artifact. There is no cardiac motion. You verbalize this to your team. The heart does not appear dilated and there is no pericardial effusion. You ask aloud, “anyone have any other suggestions” prior to calling the time of death.

Of course you next wonder what did him in: MI, PE, something else… His belly looks pretty protuberant, so you decide to take a quick look at his abdomen to check for free fluid. What you see is shown in the two images below. “

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What do you think killed this gentleman? Trust me, you want to read more and see what exactly the ultrasound image is  - as it is quite an interesting finding: go here.

For a discussion from a prior post on ultrasound during cardiac arrest, go here.

SonoCase and Procedure: Supraclavicular Subclavian lines from @EMNews #FOAMed

In a recent issue of EM News where Dr. Christine Butts once again offers insightful advice on how bedside ultrasound can assist with patient care, she gets help by one of her residents from Louisiana State University, Dr. Talbot Bowen. They offer their insights into ultrasound guided SUPRAclavicular subclavian lines – yup, that’s right – read below as they say it best:

“Ultrasound guidance in supraclavicular subclavian vein (SCV) catheterization is a relatively new concept. Traditional infraclavicular SCV catheterization is poorly amenable to ultrasound guidance because of the overlying clavicle, which can make visualization and direct guidance difficult. Supraclavicular SCV catheterization for central line placement has several advantages: practicality in cardiopulmonary arrest, decreased incidence of central line infections, lower risk of pneumothorax, and decreased incidence of thrombosis……..Once the subclavian vein is identified, the central venous catheter may be placed by dynamic ultrasound guidance. The introducer needle is advanced with gentle negative pressure from the end of the transducer. (Image 3.) This “in-plane” approach allows the operator to visualize the needle and needle tip at all times while advancing toward the vessel.”

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Read the entire entry to get even more of the goodness they describe, here.

For a post on all ultrasound guided procedures, go here.

SonoOpinion: Does absence of cardiac activity predict resuscitation failure? #FOAMed

In a post in Annals of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Brian Cohn from Washington School of Medicine gave his opinion and reviewed a few articles on cardiac activity and its relation to return of spontaneous circulation.

Does the Absence of Cardiac Activity on Ultrasonography Predict Failed Resuscitation in Cardiac Arrest?

Take-Home Message:

The absence of cardiac activity on ultrasonography does not universally lead to failure of resuscitation in cardiac arrest.

So, it doesnt surprise me, but I would ask this question though: How many with no cardiac activity on bedside ultrasound (no wall motion and no valvular activity) have survived to hospital discharge?  none. I have posted on this before, so you know my opinion already, which is: continue for organ donation purposes, otherwise no resources are needed to be used due to no survival potential. I know, it’s tough to think (and do) that.

Methods

Data Sources

MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library were searched on February 23, 2011, and again on January 29, 2012. The references of relevant articles were searched for any additional studies. Expert contact, a screening of gray literature, and a review of conference proceedings were also conducted.

Study Selection

Studies in which a clinician performed bedside transthoracic cardiac ultrasonography in adult patients receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and in which the outcome was reported, were selected for further review. Two reviewers assessed the selected articles for inclusion, with disagreement settled by consensus.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Studies were critically appraised with 8 of the original 14 criteria of the Quality Assessment Tool for Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS)1 that were believed to be relevant to the selected studies.

Results

Of 2,539 articles screened, 12 were selected for full review. Four of these did not meet inclusion criteria. The 8 articles in the final analysis included 568 patients, of whom 378 had no cardiac activity present on ultrasonography. The random-effects pooled results for sensitivity and specificity of bedside cardiac ultrasonography as a predictor of return of spontaneous circulation were 92% (95% confidence interval [CI] 85% to 96%) and 80% (95% CI 76% to 84%), respectively. The positive likelihood ratio was 4.3 (95% CI 2.6 to 6.9) and the negative likelihood ratio was 0.2 (95% CI 0.1 to 0.3). Of 378 patients without cardiac activity present, 9 (2.4%; 95% CI 1.3% to 4.5%) achieved return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) (Table).

Pooled outcomes from the 8 included trials.
ROSC No ROSC
Cardiac activity observed on ultrasonography 98 92
No cardiac activity observed on ultrasonography 9 369

Commentary

Given the low likelihood of survival in cardiac arrest patients presenting to the emergency department without a pulse, as low as 0.9% in one large database,2 efforts have been made to identify predictors of futility in ongoing resuscitation, including cardiac standstill on ultrasonography. In one survey of graduates from the LA County/USC Medical Center residency program, 68% reported using ultrasonography during cardiac arrest, and 91% of these reported using the results in deciding when to terminate resuscitation efforts.3

This systematic review yielded a survival to admission rate of 2.4% in patients with cardiac standstill. Although these results seem to indicate that resuscitation in such patients is not futile, longer-term outcomes should be considered. In previous resuscitation research, survival to hospital admission has proven to be a poor surrogate for survival to hospital discharge or neurologic outcomes.4 The Research Working Group of the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee has recommended evaluating survival at 90 days coupled with neurologic assessment by modified Rankin Scale or Cerebral Performance Categories score.5 The current evidence does not support using ultrasonography alone to predict outcomes in cardiac arrest patients.

References

    1. Whiting PF , Weswood ME , Rutjes AW , et al.  Evaluation of QUADAS, a tool for the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2006;6:e9

    1. McNally B , Robb R , Mehta M , et al. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest surveillance—Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES), United States, October 1, 2005-December 31, 2010 . MMWR Surveill Summ . 2011;60:1–19

    1. Shoenberger JM , Massopust K , Henderson SO . The use of bedside ultrasound in cardiac arrest . Cal J Emerg Med . 2007;8:47–50

    1. Gueugniaud PY , Mols P , Goldstein P , et al.  A comparison of repeated high doses and repeated standard doses of epinephrine for cardiac arrest outside the hospital (European Epinephrine Study Group) . N Engl J Med . 1998;339:1595–1601

  1. Becker LB , Aufderheide TP , Geocadin RG , et al. American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee; Council on Cardiopulmonary, Critical Care, Perioperative and Resuscitation   Primary outcomes for resuscitation science studies: a consensus statement from the American Heart Association . Circulation . 2011;124:2158–2177