Category Archives: General

What’s The Diagnosis #1?

Okay, time for the answer. This 12 year old crashed his moped, taking handlebar to the mid-epigastrium. Over the next 3 days, he felt progressively worse and finally couldn’t keep food down.

Mom brought him to the ED. The child appeared ill, and had a WBC count of 18,000. The abdomen was firm, with involuntary guarding throughout and a hint of peritonitis. The diagnosis was made on the single abdominal xray shown yesterday. A closeup of the good stuff is above.

Emergency docs, your differential diagnosis list with this history is a pancreatic vs a duodenal injury based on the mechanism.

Classic findings for duodenal injury:

  • Scoliosis with the concavity to the right. This is caused by psoas muscle irritation and spasm from retroperitoneal soiling by the duodenal leak.
  • Loss of the psoas shadow on the right. Hard to see on this xray, but the left psoas shadow is visible, the right is not. This is due to fluid and inflammation along this plane.
  • Air in the retroperitoneum. In this closeup, you can actually see tiny bubbles of leaked air outlining the right kidney. There are also bubbles along the duodenum and a few along the right psoas.

We fluid resuscitated first (important! dehydration is common and can lead to hemodynamic issues upon induction of anesthesia) and performed a laparotomy. There was a  blowout in the classic position, at the junction of 1st and 2nd portions of the duodenum. The hole was repaired in layers and a pyloric exclusion was performed, with 2 closed drains placed in the area of the leak.

The child did well, and went home after 5 days with the drains out. Feel free to common or leave questions!

To see the full-size abdominal xray, click here.

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Anticoagulation Reversal In Trauma

I’ve previously written about reversing specific agents that may interfere with clotting in trauma patients. Today I’m going to provide a reference sheet to help you reverse any of the common agents that your trauma patients may be taking. 

This reference is a work in progress and will change as new drugs are introduced. I’ll update it as revisions are made. And as always, comments and suggestions are welcome!

Click here to download the reference sheet.

Related posts:

Thanks to Colleen Morton MD from Regions Hospital for sharing this draft

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Urinary Tract Infection in the Elderly Trauma Patient

Yesterday I talked about using a medical orthopaedic trauma service to provide better care to elderly patients with fractures. Many of these patients have multiple pre-existing diseases and are quite fragile. A recent paper from the Rhode Island Hospital shows just how fragile these patients may be.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common nosocomial infections, accounting for about 40% of all such infections. The vast majority are related to indwelling bladder catheters. It is so much of a problem that, in order to decrease federal spending in the US, Medicare now denies payment for care related to these infections.

This study looked at the relationship between UTI and bladder catheters and how this infection relates to overall mortality in older trauma patients. It was a retrospective review of 6 years of data from a single institution. After excluding patients who entered the hospital with a UTI, they found that 12% of their patients developed this infection and 72% were indeed related to catheters. Males had a significantly increasing risk of UTI with increasing age. And the risk of death from UTI increased about 7% per year after age 55.

Bottom line: Urinary tract infections are especially bad for the elderly. As part of your daily rounds on any patient, look at every tube and line and ask yourself “is that really needed any more?” If not, get rid of it before it kills your patient!

Related post:

Reference: The development of a urinary tract infection is associated with increased mortality in trauma patients. J Trauma ePub ahead of print, doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31821e2b8f, July 2011.

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The Medical Orthopaedic Trauma Service

Our population is aging, and falls continue to be a leading cause of injury and morbidity in the elderly. Unfortunately, many elders have significant medical conditions that make them more likely to suffer unfortunate complications from their injuries and the procedures that repair them.

A few hospitals around the world are applying a more multidisciplinary approach than the traditional model. One example is the Medical Orthopaedic Trauma Service (MOTS) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Any elderly patient who has suffered a fracture is seen in the ED by both an emergency physician and a hospitalist from the MOTS team. Once in the hospital, the hospitalist and orthopaedic surgeon try to determine the reason for the fall, assess for risk factors such as osteoporosis, provide comprehensive medical management, provide pain control, and of course, fix the fracture. 

This medical center recently published a paper looking at their success with this model. They retrospectively reviewed 306 patients with femur fractures involving the greater trochanter. They looked at complications, length of stay, readmission rate and post-discharge mortality. No change in length of stay was noted, but there were significantly fewer complications, specifically catheter associated urinary tract infections and arrhythmias. The readmission rate was somewhat shorter in the MOTS group, but did not quite achieve significance with regression analysis.

Bottom line: This type of multidisciplinary approach to these fragile patients makes sense. Hospitalists, especially those with geriatric experience, can have a significant impact on the safety and outcomes of these patients. But even beyond this, all trauma professionals need to look for and correct the reasons for the fall, not just fix the bones and send our elders home. This responsibility starts in the field with prehospital providers, and continues with hospital through the entire inpatient stay.

Related post:

Tomorrow: How bad is a simple urinary tract infection in the elderly?

Reference: The medical orthopaedic service (MOTS): an innovative multidisciplinary team model that decreases in-hospital complications in patients with hip fractures. J Orthopaedic Trauma, ePub ahead of print, doi: 10.1097/BOT.0b013e3182242678, Aug 27, 2011.

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