Case # 7: A Case of Asymmetry

A 22 year old male presents to the emergency department with a sore throat for 1 week. The pain is predominately on the left side and is associated with difficulty opening his mouth and fever. He was placed on amoxicillin 3 days ago but notes that his symptoms have progressed. He appears uncomfortable.

Vitals: T 101.4 HR 105 BP 132/81  RR 14 O2 98% on RA

A bedside ultrasound is performed, what is the next best step in management?

PTA

Answer and Learning Point

Answer

Incision and drainage. The patient presents with lateralizing pharyngitis symptoms associated with fever and trismus concerning for peritonsillar abscess (PTA). The ultrasound clip demonstrates a well circumscribed, hypoechoic fluid collection abutting the left tonsil confirming this diagnosis (see color overlay below).

Previously, physicians relied solely on the physical exam findings of peritonsillar swelling and uvular deviation to make the diagnosis of PTA. However, this approach lacks accuracy, with studies showing a sensitivity and specificity of 75% and 50% respectively [1]. This uncertainty leads to increased CT utilization, repeat drainage attempts and ENT consultation. Intraoral ultrasound is a novel technique that can be used by emergency physicians (EP), both for diagnosis and drainage of PTA. A recent randomized control trial found the use of intraoral ultrasound (vs. traditional landmark technique) to be significantly more reliable for differentiating between PTA and peritonsillar cellulitis. Additionally, this study also demonstrated increased success in PTA drainage by EPs with the use of intraoral ultrasound guidance [2].

Data from Costantino et al

Learning Points

    • An endocavitary probe should be used when PTA is suspected to differentiated between PTA and peritonsillar cellulitis; and assist with drainage if necessary.
    • If an endocavitary probe is not available, or if the patient cannot open their mouth wide enough to pass the probe, an alternative approach, known as the telescopic submandibular approach can also be used and is explained here.
    • When using ultrasound, the distance from the oral mucosa to the center of the PTA should be measure. The plastic sheath of an 18-gauge needle (preferably a spinal needle to allow the barrel of the syringe to be outside of the patients mouth) should be cut to this length to prevent puncturing any deeper structures during drainage.

Author

This post was written by Michael Macias, MD, Ultrasound Fellow at UCSD.

References

    1. Scott PM, e. (2017). Diagnosis of peritonsillar infections: a prospective study of ultrasound, computerized tomography and clinical diagnosis. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2 October 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10435129
    2. Costantino TG, e. (2017). Randomized trial comparing intraoral ultrasound to landmark-based needle aspiration in patients with suspected peritonsillar abscess. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2 October 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22687177

Case # 6: Not Your Average Syncope

A 25 year old female presents to the emergency department with acute abdominal pain and a syncopal episode. She notes a positive home urine pregnancy test 1 week ago. She appears mildly uncomfortable with a tender abdomen. A bedside ultrasound is performed, a clip is shown below. What are the findings of the ultrasound clip and what is your diagnosis?

Vitals: T 98.7 HR 120 BP 95/72  RR 20 O2 98% on RA

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Owen, MD

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Owen, MD

Answer and Learning Point

Answer

The ultrasound clip demonstrates a large amount of free fluid between the spleen and the diaphragm. There is also a sliver of echogenic material above the capsule of the spleen suggestive of clotted blood. Morison’s pouch (not shown) was also noted to be significantly positive for free fluid. Given the patient’s unstable vitals and the clinical history, this was concerning for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. OB was consulted immediately and the patient was taken to the OR. The diagnosis of ruptured ectopic pregnancy was confirmed during laparotomy. The patient did well.

While the FAST exam has traditionally been used in trauma, there has been increasing use to diagnose intra-abdominal bleeding as a source of hypotension in medical patients. Specifically with regards to ectopic pregnancy, data has suggested that positive free fluid in Morison’s pouch is highly predictive of operative intervention with a positive likelihood ratio of 112 (Sens 50%, Spec 99.5) [1]. A retrospective study in 2001, looking at emergency medicine physician performed ultrasound, demonstrated that identifying patients with a suspected ectopic pregnancy and free fluid in Morison’s pouch decreased the time to diagnosis and treatment [2].

Learning Points

    • All women of childbearing age presenting with abdominal pain and syncope should be presumed to have a ruptured ectopic pregnancy until proven otherwise
    • Transabdominal ultrasound to evaluate for free fluid should be utilized by the emergency physician in cases of suspected ruptured ectopic pregnancy to assist with risk stratification and rapid diagnosis
    • As in trauma patients, evaluation for free fluid should be performed with the patient supine (or preferably Trendelenburg position as this increases the sensitivity of identifying free fluid in Morison’s pouch [3])
    • A curvilinear (preferred) or phased-array probe should be used to evaluate the abdomen for free fluid and it is critical to completely visualize the most inferior portion of Morison's Pouch, including the caudal tip of the liver & inferior renal pole, as this is where free fluid will collect first
    • A positive pregnancy test and positive free fluid in Morison’s pouch is essentially diagnostic of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy (though ruptured splenic artery aneurysm should also remain on your differential)

Author

This post was written by Michael Macias, MD, Ultrasound Fellow at UCSD.

References

    1. Moore C, Todd WM, O’Brien E. Free Fluid in Morison’s Pouch on Bedside Ultrasound Predicts Need for Operative Intervention in Suspected Ectopic Pregnancy. Acad Emerg Med. 2007; 14(8):755-8.
    2. Rodgerson JD, Heegaard WG, Plummer D, Hicks J, Clinton J, Sterner S. Emergency department right upper quadrant ultrasound is associated with a reduced time to diagnosis and treatment of ruptured ectopic pregnancies. Acad Emerg Med. 2001; 8:331–6.
    3. Abrams BJ, Sukumvanich P, Seibel R, Moscati R, Jehle D. Ultrasound for the detection of intraperitoneal fluid: the role of Trendelenburg positioning. Am J Emerg Med. 1999;17:(2)117-20.

Case # 5: It’s Not Always Blood

A middle aged male s/p TURBT (transurethral resection of bladder tumor) 1 day ago presented with lower abdominal pain and no urine output from his foley catheter. A bladder scan was performed which was ~ 50 cc. What's the dx?

Vitals: T 98.7 HR 110 BP 117/70  RR 18 O2 98% on RA

ezgif.com-crop (2)

Answer and Learning Point

Answer

The image above is of Morrison's pouch, demonstrating significant free fluid within the peritoneal cavity. Given the recent TURBT and lack of urinary output from the patient's foley catheter, this suggests that the fluid identified is consistent with urine secondary to intraperitoneal bladder perforation. This was later confirmed by CT cystogram and shortly after the patient was taken to the operating room for definitive repair.

Learning Points

    • Bladder perforation from TURBT is relatively rare with an incidence of clinically significant perforations of 1.3%. Furthermore, intraperitoneal bladder perforation only accounts for ~17% of these, making it quite uncommon [1]. A small number of intraperitoneal bladder perforations are also associated with small bowel or colon injury [2].
    • While around 30% of bladder ruptures from TURBT are detected intraoperatively, the remainder present postoperatively (mean time to diagnosis of 6 days) with lower abdominal pain and/or decreased urine output [2].
    • CT cystogram is the gold standard for diagnosis of bladder perforation and can provide information on location of the perforation as well as whether it is intraperitoneal or extraperitoneal [3].
    • As demonstrated in the case above, ultrasound can be used as an imaging adjunct at the bedside to rapidly detect intraperitoneal fluid to expedite consultation with urologic services and definitive CT imaging.
    • The treatment of extraperitoneal perforation of the bladder is usually conservative via prolonged foley catheter drainage. For intraperitoneal lesions, open-surgical exploration and repair is recommended [1-2].
    • Emergency department management of these patients should consist of rapid diagnosis, broad spectrum antibiotic therapy, fluid resuscitation as needed, and urgent urological consultation.

Author

This post was written by Michael Macias, MD, Ultrasound Fellow at UCSD.

References

    1. Rausch S, e. (2017). [Transurethral resection of bladder tumors: management of complications]. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2 September 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=24806801
    2. Golan S, e. (2017). Transurethral resection of bladder tumour complicated by perforation requiring open surgical repair - clinical characteristics and oncological outc... - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2 September 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20860654
    3. COMPLICATIONS OF TRANSURETHRAL RESECTION OF BLADDER TUMORS. Eric A. Singer MD, MA and Ganesh S. Palapattu MD. Complications of Urologic Surgery: Prevention and Management, Chapter 25, 295-302

Case # 4: To Bolus or Not to Bolus?

 

 

A 67 year old male with a PMHx of DM presents with a chief complaint of cough and generalized weakness.

Vitals: T 102.4 HR 127 BP 77/58  RR 24 O2 88% on RA

You place the patient on O2 via nasal cannula and activate the sepsis protocol. He is empirically treated with broad spectrum antibiotics and IVFs are started. The chest x-ray shows multifocal pneumonia and you call hospital medicine to admit the patient.  “What’s the blood pressure now,” the hospitalist asks. You glance at the monitor and murmur back, “92/63, but he looks pretty good.” The hospitalist asks you to insert a central line, start vasopressors, and contact the ICU. Instead, you wheel the ultrasound machine into his room, and ultrasound his IVC. Does this patient require a central line and vasopressors?

Answer and Learning Point

Answer

No, the patient’s IVC is small and collapsing almost 75% with normal respiratory variation. This predicts a fluid-responsive state. The patient was given another liter of lactated ringers, his blood pressure improved to 108/69, and his lactate cleared. You start maintenance IV fluids, call the hospitalist back, and the patient is admitted upstairs and does well.

Learning Points

    • Fluid responsiveness is a controversial topic that continues to plague emergency medicine physicians and intensivists alike
    • In patients whom a fluid bolus is being considered, ultrasound can be a useful tool to assess for cardiac function, lung fluid status (interstitial edema) and whether a patient will improve their cardiac output in response to this fluid challenge
    • A recent study showed that the cIVC (inferior vena cava collapsibility) can be used as a predictor of who will be a fluid responder [1]
      • cIVC = (IVC expiratory diameter - IVC inspiratory diameter)/IVC expiratory diameter
      • Patients with a cIVC > 25% are likely to be fluid responders (LR + 4.56)
      • Patients with a cIVC < 25% are unlikely to be fluid responders (LR - 0.16)
    • The IVC should be examined in the subxiphoid region with the probe in a sagittal plane, and can be found by first identifying the right atrium and following this caudally
      • A back-up approach involves using the liver as an acoustic window , placing the probe in the mid axillary line in a coronal plane,  and fanning anteriorly and posteriorly until the IVC is visualized
      • The IVC should be measured 3 cm caudal to the junction of the right atrium and IVC [2]
    • M-mode can be used to evaluate the cIVC and has the advantage of measuring the exact same spot along the IVC over an extended period of time
    • As with all adjuncts to clinical decision making, fluid responsiveness should not be determined solely on a single ultrasound measurement such as cIVC but should be taken into context with the rest of the clinical picture

Author

This post was written by Amir Aminlari, MD, Ultrasound Fellowship Director at UCSD.

References

Corl KA, e. (2017). Inferior vena cava collapsibility detects fluid responsiveness among spontaneously breathing critically-ill patients. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 19 August 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28525778

Nagdev AD, e. (2017). Emergency department bedside ultrasonographic measurement of the caval index for noninvasive determination of low central venous pressure. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 19 August 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19556029

Case # 3: Under Your Skin

A 52 year old male with presents with 4 days of painful swelling and redness to his middle right thigh. Physical exam shows a 3 cm area of erythema that is tender to touch. He denies fever and trauma to the area. A bedside ultrasound is performed as seen below. What is the next step in management?

Vitals: HR 82 BP 110/72 RR 14 O2 98

ezgif.com-optimize (28)

Answer and Learning Point

Answer

Incision and drainage. The image above demonstrates a well circumscribed fluid collection within the soft tissue,  without evidence of surrounding cellulitis. The above abscess was incised with immediate release of a large volume of purulent material. The patient did well.

Learning Point

    • Ultrasound is an excellent adjunct to the physical exam in the evaluation of soft tissue infections. It improves accuracy in the diagnosis of superficial abscesses and has been shown to change management in up to 50% of emergency department cases of clinical cellulitis [1,2].
    • The ultrasound image above is atypical for an abscess given the iso-echoic texture appreciated in the fluid and is easily missed if the operator is not aware of this unusual finding. Most abscesses will appear as a hypoechoic fluid collection, however occasionally they may have increased internal echoes which can lead to false negative ultrasound results.
    • This can be avoided by applying gentle pressure to the area of the suspected cellulitis/abscess to evaluate for the "swirl sign" which is indicative of fluid movement within the abscess cavity [Figures 1&2].
    • This can be distinguished from the common pattern appreciated in cellulitis known as "cobblestoning" which indicates increased subcutaneous fluid.
Figure 1: Soft tissue ultrasound demonstrating swirling of iso-echoic fluid collection consistent with abscess. Image courtesy of UOTW.
Figure 2: Additional soft tissue ultrasound demonstrating the "swirl sign." Image courtesy of UOTW.

References

 Tayal VS, e. (2017). The effect of soft-tissue ultrasound on the management of cellulitis in the emergency department.

Squire BT, e. (2017). ABSCESS: applied bedside sonography for convenient evaluation of superficial soft tissue infections.

UOTW: Case 66

Case # 2: A Needle In the Haystack

A 40 year old male presented with 3 days of progressive dyspnea on exertion. He notes he was in a normal state of health prior to this and played basketball daily without issue but now he can no longer walk across the room without becoming winded. He has no chest pain, a normal chest x-ray and an ECG demonstrating sinus tachycardia

Vitals: HR 109 BP 110/72 RR 22 O2 96

ezgif.com-optimize+(2)

Answer and Learning Point

Answer

There is evidence of severe aortic regurgitation and aortic root dilation (~6 cm) on this parasternal long axis view. In a patient without any previous cardiac history with new aortic regurgitation this is concerning for acute aortic dissection. Cardiac surgery was consulted immediately and the patient was taken straight to CT scan for confirmation of type A aortic dissection. The patient was in the OR within 1 hour and had an excellent outcome.

Learning Point

Aortic dissection is quite uncommon (~5-30 per 1 million people per year) and is often seen in patients with chronic uncontrolled hypertension or other diseases such as bicuspid aortic valve, Marfan Syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Unfortunately all the "classic" indicators of dissection are actually not that common [1].  Traditionally we are taught that patients with acute aortic dissection will arrive hypertensive, while in actuality up to 1 in 4 patients with Stanford Type A dissection will have a presenting systolic blood pressure below 100 mmHg. Additionally, it is taught that a dissection presents as a “ripping or tearing” pain going to the back.  Looking at the data, while over 90% of patients felt that it was the worst pain they had ever experienced, only 50% of subjects described their pain as ripping or tearing (62% described pain as sharp), only 35% had any posterior chest pain, and only 85.4% of patients described the onset of their pain as ‘acute.’ [1]

The varied presentation of this disease makes aortic dissection difficult to diagnose, and the clinician should have a high index of suspicion for this life-threatening disease process.  This is where ultrasound comes in. Anyone who has a concerning chest pain story, pain above and below the diaphragm, chest pain + a neurological symptom, or signs and symptoms of acute heart failure without any previous cardiac history, should have a bedside ultrasound performed.  While ultrasound cannot rule out aortic dissection, it can rapidly identify complications of dissection and expedite care in these patients whom time is of the essence.

The Approach

Perform standard abdominal aorta ultrasound evaluating for aneurysm or intimal flap. Be sure to evaluate from proximal aorta, in the epigastric region, distally to the iliac vessels. A normal aorta caliber is < 3 cm.

Obtain a parasternal long axis view:

Measure aortic root, this should be less than 4 cm. There are varying opinions on where the best place to take this measurement is, I suggest measuring the largest area you see as it is better to be on the conservative side.
Apply color doppler to evaluate for aortic regurgitation.
Assess global cardiac function. This is useful to see if a patient is compensated or decompensated as well as assist with fluid/pressor management if needed.
Evaluate for pericardial effusion. If there is evidence of effusion and concern for Type A aortic dissection, this suggests that there is communication with pericardial sac.
Evaluate descending thoracic aorta for intimal flap

References

  1. Hagan PG, Nienaber CA, Isselbacher EM, et al. The International Registry of Acute Aortic Dissection (IRAD): New Insights Into an Old Disease. JAMA. 2000;283(7):897-903. doi:10.1001/jama.283.7.897.
  2. Taylor RA, e. (2017). Point-of-care focused cardiac ultrasound for the assessment of thoracic aortic dimensions, dilation, and aneurysmal disease. - PubMed - NCBI Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=22288871
  3. C, K. (2017). Emergency department diagnosis of aortic dissection by bedside transabdominal ultrasound. - PubMed - NCBI Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19549013
  4. Lang R, Bierig M, Devereux R, et al. Recommendations for Chamber Quantification: A Report from the American Society of Echocardiography’s Guidelines and Standards Committee and the Chamber Quantification Writing Group, Developed in Conjunction with the European Association of Echocardiography, a Branch of the European Society of Cardiology. J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2005; 18: 1440-63.
  5. Rubano E, e. (2017). Systematic review: emergency department bedside ultrasonography for diagnosing suspected abdominal aortic aneurysm. - PubMed - NCBI Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 22 July 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23406071

Case # 1: The Acutely Winded Traveler

A 65 year old female presents with shortness of breath after a return flight from the Gold Coast of Australia to the United States.

Vitals: HR 107 BP 110/80 RR 22 O2 95

RV+Strain_Mead

Answer and Learning Point

Answer

There is right ventricular dysfunction demonstrated as septal bowing appreciated on this parasternal short axis view. This is concerning for a pulmonary embolism in the setting of the provided clinical context.

Learning Point

Echocardiography can be a useful adjunct to laboratory markers (i.e. BNP and troponin) and CTA for evaluation of right heart strain in normotensive patients presenting with concern for pulmonary embolism.  While there is building evidence that many patients presenting with pulmonary embolism are safe for discharge [1] , those patients that have evidence of right ventricular dysfunction are at higher risk for morbidity and mortality and may also be candidates for more advanced therapies, other than simple anticoagulation, such as catheter directed thrombolysis.  The most up-to-date evidence supports that emergency physicians can accurately perform echocardiography at the bedside to risk stratify patients presenting with concern for pulmonary embolism. In a recent study by Weekes et al, emergency physicians (EP) performed goal directed echocardiography to assess for right ventricular dysfunction. If any of the following criteria below were present, a patient was considered positive by goal directed echocardiography for right ventricular dysfunction:

This study found the EP goal-directed echocardiography sensitivity and specificity for right ventricular dysfunction to be 100% (CI 87% to 100%) and 99% (95% CI 94% to 100%), respectively [2]. Our patient ended up having a saddle embolus and underwent catheter directed thrombolysis and did well.

References

  1. Aujesky D, e. (2017). Outpatient versus inpatient treatment for patients with acute pulmonary embolism: an international, open-label, randomised, non-inferiority trial. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21703676

  2. Weekes AJ, e. (2017). Diagnostic Accuracy of Right Ventricular Dysfunction Markers in Normotensive Emergency Department Patients With Acute Pulmonary Embolism. - PubMed - NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=26973178