Thyroid Storm

This case is written by Dr. Cheryl ffrench, a staff Emergency Physician at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. She is the Associate Program Director and the Director of Simulation for the University of Manitoba’s FRCP-EM residency program; she is also on the Advisory Board of emsimcases.com.

Why it Matters

Thyrotoxicosis is a rare presentation to the ED that can masquerade as many other conditions. This case nicely reviews the following:

  • The importance of maintaining a broad differential diagnosis in any patient who presents with an altered level of consciousness and a fever
  • The nuances associated with managing atrial fibrillation in the context of thyrotoxicosis
  • The multiple medications required in order to treat thyroid storm

Clinical Vignette

You are working the evening shift at a tertiary care hospital. A 31-year-old female two weeks postpartum is brought in by EMS accompanied by her husband. He is concerned because she is delirious and somewhat difficult to rouse.

Case Summary

A 31 year-old-female presents by EMS with altered LOC and fever due to thyroid storm precipitated by recent parturition. The patient is tachycardic and hypoxic on arrival. Her level of consciousness will continue to deteriorate despite IV fluids and antibiotics and will require intubation. The husband will be at the bedside, and the team will need to discuss the need for intubation with him. After intubation, lab results will come back indicating possible thyrotoxicosis. The patient’s rhythm will change to atrial fibrillation at this time. The team will be expected to manage the thyroid storm in consultation with Endocrinology and ICU.

Download the case here: Thyroid Storm Case

Sinus tachycardia ECG for the case found here:

Sinus tachycardia

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/hyperthyroidism/)

Atrial fibrillation ECG for the case found here:

rapid-a-fib

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/atrial-fibrillation/)

CHF CXR for the case found here:

severe-chf

(CXR source: http://www.radiologyassistant.nl/en/p4c132f36513d4/chest-x-ray-heart-failure.html)

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