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:


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.


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.


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: 75 year old coming in unresponsive…

This case highlights an example of how bedside ultrasound can save a life. Period.

It was 330pm. The ring down from EMS was helpful; we knew the equipment we needed to get ready prior to arrival. “75 year old female, last seen normal at 2pm by family found unresponsive on the carpeted ground of her bedroom, O2 sat 94% and placed on 100% non-rebreather (NRB), shallow breaths at 12/min, weak carotid pulses with one IV access and fluids running, HR 120, blood pressure 60/p, ETA 5 minutes.” Intubation equipment, central access kit, arterial line set-up, and ultrasound machine – ready. Upon arrival, EMS states they have no advanced directive (aka full code until proven otherwise – to social worker: “please let us know when family arrives.”

In the ED… Continue reading

SonoCase: “My back hurts, I just need a med refill.” Yeah, except….

This case scares me. Truly. We have all had patients with this chief complaint, maybe on a weekly, if not daily, basis. You know the one – guy comes in, says he has been diagnosed with …. lets see, its usually “herniated disk”, “muscle strain”, “sciatica”, or he may throw out a term that gets more of your attention like “stenosis”, but usually it’s just “I have a bad back” and now on narcotics (because there’s just no other way – ugh!) and just needs a refill. He may even have an empty bottle in hand. He just might ask for the medicine by name : “Norco 10s work really well, but my doctor put me on Oxycontin now. Can you give me enough for a month?” Response: “uh… No.” But I digress…..lets go to our crazy-scary case…

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