Here’s a brief video from one of the device manufacturers that illustrates the technique of duplex ultrasound in the lower extremity.
Admit it. You’re curious. You order this test for your trauma patients all the time but you’ve never seen it done. It’s simple and noninvasive, but it does require access to all areas to be evaluated. This means that extremities that are casted or splinted, or that have extensive dressings in place may be incompletely evaluated.
The study is called “duplex” because it makes use of two modalities: traditional ultrasound and Doppler ultrasound. Traditional ultrasound is used to view the compressibility of the veins of interest at a number of locations. Doppler measures the speed of blood flow under the probe, and can show areas of sluggish flow.
The following diagram shows the traditional ultrasound technique being used to compress the vein of interest (femoral, popliteal, etc.). Part A shows the probe gently resting over the vessels. Part B shows a fully compressible vein (normal), and Part C shoes partial compression due to the presence of thrombus.
The following diagram shows what the actual ultrasound study looks like. The right side is normal, but the left side shows a venous thrombosis.
We’re getting pretty handy using ultrasound at
the bedside to tell us some interesting things. It started with FAST exams in
the ED. Then we added a few views and came up with the Extended FAST, which was
helpful in showing potential chest pathology.
Ultrasound made its way into other areas of the
hospital, and is now used routinely to place IV lines, arterial lines, and
central venous catheters. I’ve previously written about using ultrasound to
evaluate volume status by imaging the IVC in the abdomen. And now, the group at
Shock Trauma in Baltimore is trying to reach even further.
They are now using IVC variations and cardiac
stroke volume variations to assist in volume assessment in critically ill
patients. These studies have a learning curve, especially the stroke volume
calculations. They performed a study that evaluated another possible window
into the patient’s volume status, the positional internal jugular change.
The diameter of the IJ was evaluated while the patient
was flat, and again when the head was elevated to 90 degrees. A fluid bolus was
given, and the positional change in diameter was measured again. The results
were then correlated with changes in measured stroke volume of at least 10%.
Here are the factoids:
- This prospective, observational study involved 159 patients over 1.5
- Positional IJ diameter change was much better than IVC diameter changes
(receiver operating characteristic areas of 0.93 vs 0.67)
- The authors tried to use the stroke volume variation during passive leg
raise (odd, but doesn’t involve sitting the patient up), and concluded they
could not accurately assess it. This arm of the study was abandoned.
line: Leave it to the folks at Shock Trauma to come up with more weird yet interesting
stuff. This is very preliminary data, and their analysis is ongoing. Any
application of this study will be somewhat limited, since many patients are not
allowed to sit up due to their injuries or baseline hemodynamic status. We will
see where this technique
ends up: in our armamentarium, or in the trash heap.
Go for the
jugular: assessing volume responsiveness in critically ill surgical patients.
EAST 2016 Oral abstract #32.
Cardiac arrest in trauma patients is bad. Really bad. There are few survivors, mainly those who have some signs of life when they roll into the resuscitation room. One of the signs we look for is cardiac electrical activity, especially a narrow complex rhythm. But most of the time these patients don’t survive either. Could there be a way to fine tune the use of pulseless electrical activity (PEA) to better determine when further care is futile?
The trauma group at UCSF-East Bay did a nice, retrospective review on the use of the cardiac portion of the FAST exam to assess patients arriving in PEA arrest after either blunt or penetrating trauma. The numbers were a bit thin, but they were able to study 162 patients who had both FAST and EKG upon arrival. Of those patients, 71 had electrical activity, but only 17 had cardiac motion. However, 4 of these 17 survived (24%) vs only 1 of the 54 who did not have cardiac motion.
About a third of these 71 patients suffered blunt trauma, the remainder had penetrating injury. Of the 17 with cardiac activity, 14 were penetrating and 3 were blunt. And of the 4 survivors mentioned above, 3 were penetrating.
Only 1 of the 71 patients with PEA and no cardiac activity survived, and this was a blunt arrest(!).
Bottom line: Traumatic arrest is a generally fatal problem. However, it appears that use of the cardiac portion of the FAST exam in penetrating or blunt trauma can help fine tune the aggressiveness of resuscitation. PEA without cardiac activity is uniformly fatal (although there was one blunt survivor, the authors did specify the quality of this survival). It may be wise to forego further resuscitative efforts in PEA patients without cardiac activity because they will not survive, even as an organ donor.
Reference: The heart of the matter: Utility of ultrasound of cardiac activity during traumatic arrest. J Trauma 73(1):103-110, 2012.
Technology: Real Time Cerebral Blood Flow Monitoring For TBI
Here’s a new toy that has recently received some funding from the US military. It allows real-time monitoring of cerebral blood flow. It may help identify flow problems from elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) or vasospasm early on, allowing prompt initiation of appropriate therapies to increase blood flow.
This device uses an array of ultrasound beams and locks onto the middle cerebral artery. It then continuously monitors blood flow and displays the result in real time. I predict that there will be a learning curve with this one, similar to near infrared monitoring of tissue perfusion. What’s a normal baseline? What kind of variation is considered “normal?” We’ll have to answer these questions before this tool is ready for prime time. Ultimately, it may allow noninvasive monitoring of ICP in the intensive care unit.
Credit: Physiosonics, Bellevue, WA.