Anaphylaxis (+/- Laryngospasm)

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a staff physician practising in the Greater Toronto Area. She completed her Emergency Medicine training at McMaster University and also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education.

Why it Matters

Anaphylaxis is a fairly frequent presentation to the ED. However, severe anaphylaxis requiring multiple epinephrine doses and airway management is quite rare. This case is challenging on its own merit simply due to the stress of intubating an impending airway obstruction. However, if learners are faced with laryngospasm as a complication of anaphylaxis, this case takes on even more important lessons, including:

  • The surprising and unexpected nature of laryngospasm
  • The role of Larson’s point in trying to resolve laryngospasm
  • How quickly children desaturate, and develop resultant bradycardia, as a consequence of laryngospasm

For an excellent review of the management of laryngospasm, click here.

Clinical Vignette

A 7-year-old boy arrives via EMS with increased work of breathing. He has a known allergy to peanuts and developed symptoms after eating birthday cake at a party. He has been given 0.15mg IM epinephrine 10 minutes ago by his mother. Current vital are: HR 140, BP 85/60, RR 40, O2 98% on NRB. He has some ongoing wheeze noted by EMS.

Case Summary

A 7-year-old male presents with wheeze, rash and increased WOB after eating a birthday cake. He has a known allergy to peanuts. The team must initiate usual anaphylaxis treatment including salbutamol for bronchospasm. The patient will then develop worsened hypotension, requiring the start of an epinephrine infusion. After this the patient will experience increased angioedema, prompting the team to consider intubation. If no paralytic is used for intubation (or if intubation is delayed), the patient will experience laryngospasm. The team will be unable to bag-mask ventilate the patient until they ask for either deeper sedation or a paralytic. If a paralytic is used, the team will be able to successfully intubate the child.

Download the case here: Anaphylaxis

Initial CXR for the case found here:

normal pediatric CXR

(CXR source: http://radiology-information.blogspot.ca/2015/04/normal-chest-x-ray.html)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

Normal Pediatric Post-Intubation CXR

(CXR source: http://jetem.org/ettcxr/)

STEMI with Cardiogenic Shock

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

The majority of STEMI presentations to the ED are quite straight-forward to manage: expediency and protocolization are of the utmost importance. However, when a patient presents with cardiogenic shock as a result of their STEMI, more nuanced care is required. In particular, the patient must be stabilized in order to facilitate the definitive treatment of cardiac catheterization. This case highlights some of those nuances, including:

  • The need for vasopressor support and possibly inotropic support in patients with cardiogenic shock
  • The challenges associated with intubating a hypotensive and hypoxic patient
  • The importance of optimizing the patient’s status as best as possible prior to intubation (whether via BiPAP, PEEP valve, push-dose pressors, or otherwise)

Clinical Vignette

A 55-year-old male presents to the ED with EMS as a STEMI activation. He arrives being bagged by EMS for hypoxia. His initial EMS call was for chest pain and he has significantly deteriorated en route. He has a history of smoking, hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia. No prior cardiac history.

Case Summary

A 55-year-old man presents to the ED as a STEMI call. He is profoundly hypotensive with low O2 sats and obvious CHF. The patient’s blood pressure will transiently respond to fluid resuscitation. The ECG will show anterolateral ST elevation. The team will need to prepare for intubation while activating the cath lab. They will also need to start vasopressors. The patient will remain hypotensive until an inotrope like dobutamine is initiated. If unsafe medications are chosen for intubation, the patient will have a VT arrest.

Download the case here: STEMI with Cardiogenic Shock

ECG for the case found here:

anterolateral STEMI

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/lateral-stemi/)

Pre-intubation CXR for the case found here:

CHF

(CXR source: https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/rad/cxr/pathology2Bchest.html)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

CHF post intubtation

(CXR source: https://heart-conditions.knoji.com/learning-about-and-coping-with-congestive-heart-failure/)

Lung U/S for the case found here:

 

 

ASA Toxicity

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a staff physician practising in the Greater Toronto Area. She completed her Emergency Medicine training at McMaster University and also obtained a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education.

Why it Matters

Salicylate toxicity, while relatively rare, has fairly nuanced management. It is important for physicians to be aware of presenting features of the toxicity and also of key management steps. Some pearls from this case include:

  • That hypoglycemia (and neuroglycopenia) is a manifestation of ASA toxicity.
  • Urine alkalinization (and correction of hypokalemia) is an important initial treatment for suspected toxicity.
  • Should a patient require intubation, it is paramount to set the ventilator to match the patient’s pre-intubation respiratory rate as best as possible.
  • Dialysis is indicated in intubated patients and also in patients with profoundly altered mental status, high measured ASA levels, and renal failure.

Clinical Vignette

You are working at a community hospital. The triage nurse comes to tell you that they have just put an 82 year-old male in a resuscitation room. He was found unresponsive by his daughter and was brought in by EMS. In triage he was profoundly altered, febrile and hypotensive. His daughter is in the room with him.

Case Summary

The learner will be presented with an altered febrile patient, requiring an initial broad work-up and management plan. The learner will receive a critical VBG report of severe acidosis, hypoglycemia and hypokalemia, requiring management. Following this, the rest of the blood work and investigations will come back, giving the diagnosis of salicylate overdose. The patient’s mental status will continue to decline and learners should proceed to intubate the patient, anticipating issues given the acid-base status. The learner should also initiate urinary alkalinization and make arrangements for urgent dialysis.

Download the case here: ASA Toxicity

ECG for the case found here:

Hypokalemia ECG

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/hypokalaemia/)

Initial CXR for the case found here:

ards pre intubation

(CXR source: http://www.radiology.vcu.edu/programs/residents/quiz/pulm_cotw/PulmonConf/09-03-04/68yM%2008-03-04%20CXR.jpg)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

ARDS post intubation

(CXR source: http://courses.washington.edu/med620/images/mv_c3fig1.jpg)

FAST showing no free fluid found here:

no FF

Pericardial U/S showing no PCE found here:

Abdominal U/S showing no AAA found here:

no AAA

All U/S images are courtesy of McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program.

Aortic Stenosis with A Fib and CHF

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a staff physician practising in the Greater Toronto Area. She completed her Emergency Medicine training at McMaster University along with a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education.

Why it Matters

The management of patients with aortic stenosis can be tenuous at the best of times. When these patients present with CHF or dysrhythmias, their management is much more nuanced than the typical patient presenting with the same complaints. This case nicely highlights the following management differences:

  • The need for expedient rate control in a patient with aortic stenosis (in this case, most safely accomplished via cardioversion)
  • The need for judicious treatment of CHF, including careful diuresis and avoiding nitroglycerin use
  • The importance of early consultation with both cardiac surgery and cardiology

Clinical Vignette

A 78-year-old male presents via EMS with 4 days of increased SOB. The triage nurse comes to tell you she has put him in the resuscitation bay due to unstable vitals. HR was in the 150s. The O2SAT was 86% on RA when EMS arrived, but is now 95% on a NRB.

Case Summary

A 78-year-old male presents with increased SOB over the past 4 days. A recent ECHO will be presented showing severe AS. The ECG will demonstrate new A Fib with a HR of 150 and the CXR will show CHF. The patient will be normotensive at first but will become hypotensive shortly after. The team will then need to decide whether to cardiovert the patient or attempt rate control. If these are done safely, the patient will respond and then develop worsening CHF. Definitive management should be sought with early cardiology/cardiac surgery consult. If management is not carried out judiciously, the patient will become profoundly hypotensive.

Download the case here: Aortic Stenosis with A Fib and CHF

Initial ECG for the case found here:

ECG- A.fib + LVH

(ECG source: http://www.wikidoc.org/index.php/Atrial_fibrillation_EKG_examples)

Second ECG for the case (after cardioversion) found here:

ECG- LVH

(ECG source: http://bestpractice.bmj.com/best-practice/monograph/409/resources/image/bp/5.html)

CXR for the case found here:

CHF

(CXR source: https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/rad/cxr/pathology2Bchest.html)

Lung ultrasound for the case found here:

Pediatric DKA

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is an Emergency physician practising in the Greater Toronto Area. She completed her Emergency Medicine training at McMaster University and also obtained a fellowship in simulation and medical education during her training.

Why it Matters

DKA is a reasonably common presentation to the ED. However, it requires several important steps in its management in order to prevent harm. This is especially true in children, where the rates of cerebral edema are higher. This case highlights several important features in the management of Pediatric DKA, including:

  • That there is no role for an insulin bolus.
  • That the precipitant of DKA must always be considered (in this case, it is appendicitis)
  • That cerebral edema is a known complication of DKA and must be managed immediately with a reduction in the insulin and fluid rates as well as with either mannitol or hypertonic saline

We have previously published a case of Pediatric DKA on emsimcases. Today’s case is unique in that it begins with the learners providing advice over the phone to a physician who is less comfortable managing DKA.  We have chosen to publish on this topic a second time as a way to emphasizes how cases on the same topic can be designed with different objectives in mind. The objectives (and therefore the case design) can lead to very different learning experiences. We have no doubt that this new case will also lead to excellent debriefing and evidence review with learners – it certainly does when we run it for our senior residents at McMaster University!

Case Summary

The learners receive a call from a peripheral hospital about transferring an unwell 8-year-old girl with new DKA. She has been incorrectly managed, receiving a 20cc/kg bolus for initial hypotension as well as an insulin bolus of 8 units (adult sliding scale dose for glucose of >20). The learner must perform a telephone consultation and dictate new orders. On arrival, EMS will state that they lost the IV en route, and the patient will become more somnolent in the ED. The learner should begin empiric treatment for likely cerebral edema and concurrently manage the DKA. Physical exam will show a peritonitic abdomen with guarding in the RLQ. Empiric Abx should be started for likely appendicitis. Due to decreasing neurologic status and vomiting, the patient will eventually require an advanced airway. The challenge is to optimize the peri-intubation course and ventilation to allow for compensation of her metabolic acidosis.

Clinical Vignette

Outside Patch: We have an 8-year-old female we want to send for DKA. She presented after feeling generally “unwell” for 3 days, with some accompanying abdominal pain and vomiting. Her blood glucose came back at 24 with a pH of 7.15 and HCO3 of 12, so we made the diagnosis of DKA. She received a 20mL/kg bolus for hypotension (BP 90/60) and Humulin R 8 unit bolus (as per our hospital sliding scale). What do you want for insulin and fluids before we send her?

Download the case here: Pediatric DKA

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

normal-intubation2

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

STEMI with Bradycardia

This case is written by Dr. Rob Woods. He works in both the adult and pediatric emergency departments in Saskatoon and has been working in New Zealand for the past year. He is the founder and director of the FRCP EM residency program in Saskatchewan.

Why it Matters

This case requires learners to coordinate multiple components of care at once. A patient presenting with a STEMI requires urgent PCI, however they must also be stable enough to safely travel to the cardiac catheterization lab. This case emphasizes important adjuncts to STEMI management in an unstable patient, including:

  • The utility of transcutaneous pacing and epinephrine infusion in the context of symptomatic bradycardia
  • The importance of recognizing complete heart block as a complication of a STEMI
  • The need for intubation in order to facilitate medication administration and safe transport in a PCI-requiring patient who presents with severe CHF or altered LOC

Clinical Vignette

To be stated by the bedside nurse: “This 65-year-old woman came in with 1 hour of chest pressure and SOB. Her O2 sats were 84% on RA at triage, and they are now 90% with a non-rebreather mask. She’s also bradycardic at 30 and hypotensive at 77/40.”

Case Summary

A 65-year-old female is brought to the ED with chest tightness and SOB. On arrival, she will be found to have an inferior STEMI with resultant 3rd degree heart block and hypotension. The team will be expected to initiate vasopressor support and transcutaneous pacing. However, prior to doing so, the patient will develop a VT arrest requiring ACLS care. After ROSC, the team will need to initiate transcutaneous pacing and activate the cath lab for definitive management.

Download the case here: STEMI with Bradycardia

ECG for the case found here:

Inferior STEMI with CHB

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/inferior-stemi/)

CXR for the case found here:

CHF

(CXR source: https://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/rad/cxr/pathology2Bchest.html)

Serotonin Syndrome

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

This case is an example of why it is important to keep a broad differential in our patients. It would be easy to assume this patient has sepsis and to form cognitive biases around only this as a possible presentation. Instead, by maintaining a broad differential diagnosis, a relatively rare presentation is recognized. This case highlights the following:

  • The presenting features of serotonin syndrome: agitation, confusion, clonus, and hyperthermia
  • The management priorities in serotonin syndrome include both minimizing patient agitation with benzodiazepines and aggressive cooling
  • The potential for sodium channel blockade (and a resultant wide QRS pattern on ECG) with cocaine use
  • The potential for patients with a prolonged QT interval to develop Torsades de Pointes
  • The need to treat Torsades de Pointes with magnesium sulfate and defibrillation

Case Summary

A 27-year-old female presents hot and altered to the ED with EMS. Likely cause is serotonin syndrome, precipitated by being on citalopram and methadone in the setting of a recent cocaine binge (all increase serotonin levels). She will develop Torsades de Pointes as a complication which must be treated with MgSO4. She will become increasingly agitated and febrile, requiring IV benzodiazepines, active cooling, and consideration of intubation with paralysis to achieve normothermia.

Clinical Vignette

A 27-year-old female was found by her boyfriend this morning seeming confused and warm. He called EMS. She has a history of opioid abuse and is on methadone, but he swears that she has takes this as prescribed and has not done any prescription pain meds lately. They did “party a lot yesterday,” but she was otherwise well, with no complaints of fever before today. With EMS the patient was noted to be diaphoretic, febrile and quite agitated. She has been placed in a resuscitation bay.

Download the case here: Serotonin Syndrome

1st ECG for the case (long QT and wide QRS) found here:

Wide QRS

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/tca-overdose/)

2nd ECG for the case (long QT) found here:

Long QT ECG

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/qt_interval/)

3rd ECG for the case (Torsades de Pointes) found here:

Torsades ECG

(ECG source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torsades_de_pointes)

Normal CXR found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female-1)

Post-intubation CXR found here:

normal-intubation2

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Multi-Trauma: Blunt VSA and Burn

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

This case is an excellent example of the challenges faced in Emergency Medicine. Not only are learners faced with a worst-case airway scenario, but they must also manage two critically ill patients at once. In particular, it draws attention to the following:

  • The need to plan for and manage resources appropriately when faced with two critically ill patients simultaneously
  • The importance of recognizing and adequately preparing for a difficult airway
  • The acknowledgement of a failed intubation/ventilation scenario requiring expedient placement of a surgical airway

Case Summary

The case will start with an EMS patch indicating that they are 2 minutes out with multi-trauma from a 2 car MVC. Two patients will then arrive within 1 minute of each other. The first will have gone VSA en route from presumed blunt trauma. This patient will not regain a pulse. The second patient will arrive with significant burns from a car fire, and will have GCS of 3 necessitating intubation. All attempts at intubation will be unsuccessful, and a surgical airway must be performed. The team will need to prioritize resources between the two patients and realize that an ED thoracotomy is not reasonable in the first patient.

Clinical Vignette

Before first patient:

You are working in a tertiary care trauma center. EMS patch: We have a 50ish M unbelted driver in a head-on MCV at about 60km/hr. He was ejected from the vehicle and found about 30m from the crash site with a GCS of 3. He has an obvious head injury, torso injury and unstable pelvis, which we’ve bound. Initially had RR 40, O2 85% on NRB, HR 150 and a questionable femoral pulse. Since then, he’s been pulseless. We’ve been en route about 5 minutes and should be there in about 2 min. He’s received 1mg Epi so far with no shocks advised x2. Smells of EtOH, but no other known history. There was one other car involved that caught on fire, so you’ll probably get them, too, if they survive. Please prepare for this patient.

Upon arrival of second patient:

EMS Handover: This 30ish male belted driver was in a head on MVC with both cars going ~60km/hr. His car was on fire when we got there, and he’s got 2nd/3rd degree burns everywhere. We found him outside the car, so he must have self-extricated. His GCS has been 3 the entire time with us. He’s tolerating an oral airway. His last vitals were HR 120, BP 130/80, RR 30, O2 95% NRB

How to Run the Case

At McMaster University, we successfully ran this case with our PGY4 residents. To do so, we had two confederate nurses at the bedside (one nurse per patient). We also had dedicated sim techs running each mannequin. Finally, we had three faculty instructors. One instructor to observe the management of each patient, and one instructor to play the role of the arriving paramedic and to coordinate between the two instructors and sim techs. We are able to run the case with four of our emergency medicine resident learners playing the roles of a trauma team (one team leader, one senior emerg resident, one senior anesthesia resident, and one surgical resident). It went very well and received positive feedback from the learners. Of note, this case is ripe with opportunity for incorporating other learners. In particular, inter-professional education using ED nurses, RT’s, and learners from other services could work as well.

 

Download the case here: Multitrauma Cric and Blunt VSA Case

Cardiac U/S for Patient 1 found here*:

FAST for Patient 1 found here:

RUQ FF

ECG for Patient 2 found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

Pre-intubation CXR for Patient 2 found here:

Normal CXR Male

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-x-ray)

PXR for Patient 2 found here:

normal-pelvis-male

(PXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/pelvis-1)

Post-intubation CXR for Patient 2 found here:

Normal Post-Intubation CXR

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Cardiac U/S for Patient 2 found here*:

FAST for Patient 2 found here*:

no FF

Lung U/S for Patient 2 found here*:

*All U/S images are courtesy of McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program.

Trauma in a Hemophiliac

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

While Emergency physicians certainly see their fair share of trauma, managing a patient with hemophilia is quite infrequent. This case highlights some key management points, including:

  • The importance of administering early Factor VIII replacement
  • The need to monitor for delayed intra-cranial hemorrhage
  • The importance of determining capacity when a head-injured patient becomes agitated

Clinical Vignette

You are working in a level three trauma centre and are told that EMS just arrived from an MVC involving a 16-year-old female passenger who has known hemophilia. Vitals are stable. She has a laceration to her arm, and a bruise on her head, but has GCS 15 and only complains of arm pain.

Case Summary

A 16-year-old female presents following an MVC. Past medical history is significant for hemophilia A. She has a laceration on her arm and a bruise on her forehead, but denies HA/N/V. The learner should recognize high potential for bleeding, and implement immediate treatment with rVIII replacement, along with pan-CT imaging. The CT head will show a small ICH. The patient wants to leave AMA following normal CT results, and the learner must preform a capacity assessment and outline a plan of action for the incompetent patient. The patient should be sedated and/or intubated anticipating decline using neuroprotective measures. Consults should be made to the ICU and hematology.

Download the case here: Hemophilia Case

CXR for the case found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female-1)

PXR for the case found here:

normal-pxr

(PXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/pelvis-1)

Forearm x-ray for the case found here:

R forearm cropped

(X-ray source: http://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=ser&sub=def&pag=dis&ItemID=56736)

ECG for the case found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

FAST image for the case found here:

no FF

Cardiac U/S showing no pericardial effusion found here:

(U/S images courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

Anaphylaxis with Angioedema

This case is written by Dr. Ahmed Taher. He is an Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Toronto and a Masters of Public Health Student at Johns Hopkins University. He developed his appreciation and excitement for simulation while previously employed as a Primary Care Paramedic for York Region EMS.

Why it Matters

Anaphylaxis is a fairly common presentation to the ED. However, it is rare to see truly severe anaphylaxis. This case exposes learners to the most feared complication of anaphylaxis – angioedema requiring surgical airway management. In particular, it highlights:

  • The importance of initiating early treatment for anaphylaxis with epinephrine (and removing ongoing allergen exposure, if possible)
  • The need to intubate early in patients with signs of airway compromise not immediately responding to epinephrine
  • The fact that the “decision to cut” is crucial (and arguably the most challenging part of a surgical airway)
  • The steps required for a successful cricothyrotomy

Clinical Vignette

You are working a night shift at your local Emergency Department. You are called STAT to the bedside of a patient in the department who was seen by your colleague earlier and has recently been started on IV ceftriaxone for a pyelonephritis. You recall from handover that this is a 45-year-old previously healthy female patient with a diagnosis of a UTI two weeks ago, who returned after failing treatment and was diagnosed with pyelonephritis today. The nurse tells you she started the IV antibiotics and fluids 20 min ago, and then started to experience respiratory distress and a full body rash.

Case Summary

A 45-year-old patient who has already been seen in the ED begins treatment for pyelonephritis with IV antibiotics. Soon after initiated, she develops stridor and respiratory distress, as part of an anaphylactic reaction. The team is called into the room to assess the patient. After standard anaphylaxis treatment is given, the airway is still of concern. Intubation attempts are not successful and the patient will need a surgical airway.

Download the case here: Anaphylaxis with Angioedema

ECG for the case found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: https://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

CXR for the case found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female)