All posts by TheTraumaPro

Why Is NPO The Default Diet For Trauma Patients?

I’ve watched it happen for years. A trauma patient is admitted with a small subarachnoid hemorrhage in the evening. The residents put in all the “usual” orders and tuck them away for the night. I am the rounder the next day, and when I saunter into the patient’s room, this is what I find:

They were made NPO. And this isn’t just an issue for patients with a small head bleed. A grade II spleen. An orbital fracture. Cervical spine injury. The list goes on.

What do these injuries have to do with your GI tract?

Here are some pointers on writing the correct diet orders on your trauma patients:

  • Is there a plan to take them to the operating room within the next 8 hours or so? If not, let them eat. If you are not sure, contact the responsible service and ask. Once you have confirmed their OR status, write the appropriate order.
  • Have they just come out of the operating room from a laparotomy? Then yes, they will have an ileus and should be NPO.
  • Are they being admitted to the ICU? If their condition is tenuous enough that they need ICU level monitoring, then they actually do belong to that small group of patients that should be kept NPO.

But here’s the biggest offender. Most trauma professionals don’t think this one through, and reflexively write for the starvation diet.

  • Do they have a condition that will likely require an emergent operation in the very near future? This one is a judgment call. But how often have you seen a patient with subarachnoid hemorrhage have an emergent craniotomy? How often do low grade solid organ injuries fail if they’ve always had stable vital signs? Or even high grade injuries? The answer is, not often at all! So let them eat!

Bottom line: Unless your patient is known to be heading to the OR soon, or just had a laparotomy, the default trauma diet should be a regular diet! 

New Trauma MedEd Newsletter Released Soon!

I’m just putting the finishing touches on the next newsletter. It contains everything that you really want to know about Trauma in Pregnancy. Here are the contents:

  • Predicting outcomes
  • Tips & Tricks (for EMS and physicians)
  • Imaging
  • Peri-mortem C-section: when, with what, and how?

I’m going to release this issue to subscribers on Halloween. Everyone else can pick it up here on the blog about 10 days later.

If you want to get it as soon as it is released, please subscribe by clicking here! And you can pick up back issues when you follow the link, too!

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What You Need To Know About Frontal Sinus Fractures

Fracture of the frontal sinus is less common than other facial injuries, but can be more complex to deal with, both in the shorter and longer terms. These are generally high energy injuries, and facial impact in car crashes is the most common mechanism. Fists generally can’t cause the injury, but blunt objects like baseball bats can.

Here’s the normal anatomy:

sinus-fracture-treatment

 

Source: www.facialtraumamd.com

There are two “tables”, the anterior and the posterior. The anterior is covered with skin and a small amount of subcutaneous tissue. The posterior table is separated from the brain by the meninges.

Here’s an image of an open fracture involving both tables. Note the underlying pneumocephalus.

frontal_sinus1

A third of injuries violate the anterior table, and two thirds violate both. Posterior table fractures are very rare. A third of all patients will develop a CSF leak, typically from their nose.

These fractures may be (rarely) identified on physical exam if deformity and flattening is noted over the forehead. Most of the time, these patients undergo imaging for brain injury and the fracture is found incidentally. Once identified, go back and specifically look for a CSF leak. Clear fluid in the nose is, by definition, CSF. Don’t waste time on a beta-2 transferring (see below).

If a laceration is clearly visible over the fracture, or if a CSF leak was identified, notify your maxillofacial specialist immediately. If more than a little pneumocephalus is present, let your neurosurgeon know. Otherwise, your consults can wait until the next morning.

In general, these patients frequently require surgery for the fracture, either to restore cosmetic contours or to avoid mucocele formation. However, these are seldom needed urgently unless the fracture is an open fracture with contamination or there is a significant CSF leak. If in doubt, though, consult your specialist.

Related posts:

Using Your Hybrid OR For Trauma

Every hospital wants some gadget or other. First, it was a robot. Or two. Now, it’s a hybrid operating room.

lourdes-hybrid-or1

What is this, you ask? It’s a mashup of an operating room and an interventional radiology suite. It’s new. It’s big. It’s cool (literally, which is an issue for trauma surgeons).

More and more hospitals are adding hybrid rooms at the request of their vascular surgery teams. These rooms allow for both angiographic and open operative procedures, potentially at the same time. They are perfect for endovascular procedures that need some degree of hands-in work as well. They are frequently used for thoracic endovascular repair of the aorta (TEVAR), repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

These rooms would seem to be perfect for some trauma cases as well. Some injuries require a mix of interventional work and open surgery. Think complex pelvic fractures and extremity vascular injuries.

But before you go rushing off to the hybrid room with the next patient you think might benefit from it, consider these issues:

  • You must first secure access to the hybrid room. Just because you want it doesn’t mean you can get it. This room was probably built with other services in mind. You must work with them closely to set up rules and priorities. Consider questions like, can a trauma case bump an elective one?
  • Decide what specific cases can be done in the room. Don’t waste it on procedures that can be done in any old OR. Ideally, it is for multi-team cases and must take advantage of the radiographic capabilities of the hybrid room. If it doesn’t, it should be done in any other room of appropriate size.
  • Check your hardware. Make sure that anything you might attach to the hybrid table actually will attach to it. Frequently, the side rails are missing and the table thickness is different than a standard OR table. Check all of your retractor systems for compatibility. If your neurosurgeons use a skull clamp like a Mayfield, make sure it will attach to the table. If they do not, look for adapters to make it possible. Don’t discover this on your first trip to the room.
  • Watch for hypothermia! These are big rooms, and are difficult to heat up uniformly. In addition, the electronics in the room may be heat sensitive, so you may not be able to raise the temperature to the levels you are accustomed. Place heating systems under and around the patient as much as possible, warm everything that goes into them, and monitor their temp closely.
  • Treat the equipment with respect.  This stuff is delicate, and must be used by other surgeons for sensitive procedures. Don’t break it!

Related posts:

How To Remember Those “Classes of Hemorrhage”

The Advanced Trauma Life Support course lists “classes of hemorrhage”, and various other sources list a similar classification for shock. I’ve not been able to pinpoint where these concepts came from, exactly. But I am sure of one thing: you will be tested on it at some point in your lifetime.

Here’s the table used by the ATLS course:

classes_of_shock

The question you will always be asked is:

What class of hemorrhage (or what % of blood volume loss) is the first to demonstrate systolic hypotension?

This is important because prehospital providers and those in the ED typically rely on systolic blood pressure to figure out if their patient is in trouble.

The answer is Class III, or 30-40%. But how do you remember the damn percentages?

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It’s easy! The numbers are all tennis scores. Here’s how to remember them:

Class I up to 15% Love – 15
Class II 15-30% 15 – 30
Class III 30-40 30 – 40
Class IV >40% Game (almost) over!

Bottom line: Never miss that question again!