UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Legg Calve Perthes Disease

Keywords: Hip, pediatrics, arthritis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/9/2017 by Brian Corwell, MD
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD


Idiopathic osteonecrosis of the femoral head

Children as young as 2 or as old as 12 but generally 4 to 8 (worse in older children)

Fare better than adults with osteonecrosis of femoral head

1 in 10,000

4-5x more common in males, much less common ini African Americans

Unilateral femoral head involvement 90% of the time (Bilateral 10% of the time)

Long term consequences are deformity and arthritis

Typical presentation: Subacute limping for weeks (Painless)

As activity worsens limp, it is maximal at the end of the day (Intermittent)

As in adults with hip pathology, IF pain is reported, it is located at the upper anterior thigh and groin

On examination, look for restriction in range of motion of the hip (compare with contralateral side)

May only present with mild to moderate decreased range of motion of the hip

            30 versus 60 degrees for example

             ABduct both legs with pelvis in neutral OR Place one hand on contralateral pelvis and ABduct affected leg with other hand.




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Serious outcomes after overdose or nonintentional exposures to medications used to treat depression have risen dramatically over the past 15 years. Morbidity and mortality associated with drugs used to treat depression were studied utilizing the National Poison Data System from 2000-2014. Tricyclic and monoamine oxidase inhibitor medications were associated with the highest morbidity and mortality. Newer agents such as Lithium, venlafaxine, bupropion, quetiapine, olanzapine, ziprasidone, valproic acid, carbamazepine, and citalopram were also associated with higher mortality indices.

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Category: International EM

Title: In the Time of Cholera

Keywords: Cholera, conflict, children (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/5/2017 by Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH (Updated: 9/26/2017)
Click here to contact Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH

Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.

Rising cholera, diarrhea and malnutrition is a deadly combination in war torn countries, such as Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Sudan, especially for children.

Yemen currently has the worst outbreak globally, with over 260,000 suspected cases and over 1,600 deaths. In Yemen:

o   Half the suspected cases are children

o   A quarter of the deaths are among children


Bottom Line:

Cholera remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality globally, especially in areas of conflict.

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When you are working up an elderly patient for trauma  look for patterns such as circumferential bruising on the wrists that have the pattern of fingers the same way you would look at the injuries of a child. Remember that the person who is sitting next to them is frequently the person that is abusing them. Therefore, it is important to interview the patient alone. 

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Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Levofloxacin dosing for CAP

Keywords: Levofloxacin, duration, dose, CAP, pneumonia (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/1/2017 by Jill Logan (Updated: 9/26/2017)
Click here to contact Jill Logan


When you look up dosing for levofloxacin for community acquired pneumonia (CAP), you will find that both of the following options are approved:

  • Levofloxacin 500 mg IV/PO daily x 7-14 days
  • Levofloxacin 750 mg IV/PO daily x 5 days

This is based on a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, active treatment trial comparing these two regimens in CAP (mild to severe). This non-inferiority trial shows that the 750 mg dose of levofloxacin for 5 days is "at least as effective and well tolerated" as the 500 mg dose of levofloxacin for 10 days.

So why should you choose the 750 mg daily x 5 day regimen?

  • Higher doses maximize the concentration-dependent pharmacokinetic profile of the drug
  • Higher doses and shorter duration may be associated with less drug resistance
  • Patients subjectively report feeling better at day 3 with the higher dose regimen

As alway with levofloxacin, don't forget to renally dose adjust subsequent doses when writting a script or scheduled inpatient order for patients with reduced creatinine clearance! 

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Category: Toxicology

Title: Black Widow Bite

Keywords: Lactrodectus (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/29/2017 by Kathy Prybys, DO (Emailed: 6/30/2017) (Updated: 6/30/2017)
Click here to contact Kathy Prybys, DO

 Black widow  spiders belong to the genus Latro dectus which include 31 species of widow spiders found throughout world. Approximately 1500-2500 black widow bites are reported to American poison control centers annually. A black widow can be identified by their hourglass pattern (red or orange) on the ventral aspect of their shiny globular abdomen. Fortunately, envenomation is rare but when it does occur it causes severe pain, muscle cramping, abdominal (may mimic acute abdomen) often refractory to traditional analgesics and antivenom (Antivenin Latrodectus mactans) is available and effective . Alpha-latrotoxin is the potent toxin causing presynaptic cation channels to open (calcium) and release of neurotransmitters such acetycholine. The neurological signs and symptoms caused by predominantly autonomic and include tachycardia and hypertension. The antivenom is equine based and infused over 20-30 minutes with pain relief in 20 minutes.


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Category: Neurology

Title: Autoimmune Neurological Disease

Keywords: autoimmune, cancer, encephalopathy (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/28/2017 by Danya Khoujah, MBBS
Click here to contact Danya Khoujah, MBBS

One of the differentials of a subacute neurological deficit (usually with a fluctuating course) is autoimmune neurologic disorders. This can encompass anything from neuropathic symptoms, to cerebellar pathology, to encephalitis-like picture. A personal or family history of autoimmune disease or malignancy should heighten suspicion, and the CSF is likely an inflammatory CSF profile as well (pleocytosis). Neural autoantibodies confirm the diagnosis, and are usually performed in both the serum and the CSF. Most laboratories perform a global screen for a number of potential antibodies that fit the concerning clinical picture, rather than one or two tests.
In addition, autoimmune CNS pathology is concerning for a paraneoplastic syndrome e.g. teratoma, lymphoma or small cell lung cancer.

Take Home Message: If suspecting an autoimmune pathology due to the risk factors and subacute nature of the disease, obtain some extra CSF to run the necessary tests after consulting with neurology. 

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Category: Critical Care

Title: Ventilation During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Keywords: CPR, ventilation, respiratory rate, PaCO2 (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/27/2017 by Mike Winters, MD
Click here to contact Mike Winters, MD

Ventilation During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation  

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitations are often highly stressful and chaotic situations.  As a result, it is no surprise that ventilation rates can be as high as 60 breaths per minute.  
  • Hyperventilation during cardiopulmonary resuscitation can increase intrathoracic pressure, impair venous return, decrease coronary perfusion pressure, and ultimately decrease survival.
  • It is imperative that the team leader pay close attention to ventilation and ensure that approximately 8 to 10 breaths per minute are delivered.
  • Once ROSC is achieved, the respiratory rate should be adjusted to maintain a PaCO2 between 40 and 45 mm Hg.  

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Category: Orthopedics

Title: Frozen Shoulder

Keywords: Adhesive Capsulitis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/24/2017 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 9/26/2017)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Adhesive Capsulitis aka Frozen Shoulder

Spontaneous gradual onset stiffness and pain of the Glenohumeral joint

Shoulder capsule becomes thickened and contracted

Often affects patients between 40 and 60 years old

Left> Right shoulder

Women> men

Association with diabetes and thyroid disease

3 clinical stages

1)      Pain – gradual onset, diffuse, severe, disabling, often worse at night

2)      Stiffness – decreased ROM, affects ADLs, improved pain

3)      Thawing – gradual return of motion

Physical examination: Painful and decreased ROM. Evaluate active and passive movement, external rotation and ABduction of the shoulder most affected

Surgical or post traumatic shoulder stiffness usually resolves within 12 months.

Adhesive capsulitis is generally self-limiting lasting an average of 18-36 months.

DDX: Chronic locked posterior shoulder dislocation (VERY IMPORTANT), tumor.

Treatment: NSAIDs, Physical therapy, Intra articular steroids

If this fails, manipulation under anesthesia and/or arthroscopic surgical release





Every year in the U.S., preventable poisonings in children result in more than 60,000 ED visits and around 1 million calls to poison centers.  Calls relating specifically to pet medication exposure and children have been on the rise.

A recent study in Pediatrics was the first was kind to characterize the epidemiology of such exposures.

This study is a call to arms for an increased effort on the part of public health officials, pharmacists, veterinarians, and physicians to improve patient education to prevent these exposures from occurring. 

Summary of major findings:

  • Children less than or equal to age 5 are at greatest risk
  • Ingestion accounted for the exposure route in 93% of cases. 
  • Exploratory behavior(61.%) was the most common mechanism of exposure

Most commonly Implicated exposures:

  • Pet medications with no human equivalent  (17.3%)
  • Antimicrobials (14.8%
  • Antiparasitic 14.6%)
  • Analgesics (11.1%)

Key contributors to exposure risk:

  • Lack of recognition by caregivers of potential hazards of pet medications
  • Inappropriate or lack of home storage practices
  • Inconsistent compliance by veterinary providers in terms of proper product labeling and child-resistant packaging

Take home point: Make sure your pet's medications are appropriately stored for safety!



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Category: Pediatrics

Title: Pediatric blunt trauma and the need for chest xray

Keywords: Blunt thoracic trauma, pediatric trauma, chest xray (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/16/2017 by Jenny Guyther, MD
Click here to contact Jenny Guyther, MD


Chest injuries represent the second most common cause of pediatric trauma related death.  ATLS guidelines recommend CXR in all blunt trauma patients.  Previous studies have suggested a low risk of occult intrathoracic trauma; however, these studies included many children who were sent home.

Predictors of thoracic injury include: abdominal signs or symptoms (OR 7.7), thoracic signs of symptoms (OR 6), abnormal chest auscultation (OR 3.5), oxygen saturation < 95% (OR 3.1), BP < 5% for age (OR 3.7), and femur fracture (OR 2.5).

4.3 % of those found to have thoracic injuries did not have any of the above predictors, but their injuries were diagnosed on CXR.  These children did not require trauma related interventions.

Bottom line: There were still a number of children without these predictors that had thoracic injuries, so the authors suggest that chest xray should remain a part of pediatric trauma resuscitation.

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Category: Toxicology

Title: Are you up to date on your street names for drugs of abuse?

Keywords: drugs of abuse, street name (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/5/2017 by Hong Kim, MD, MPH (Emailed: 6/15/2017) (Updated: 6/15/2017)
Click here to contact Hong Kim, MD, MPH

Street names for illicit substance are diverse and unique. Knowing what your patient used prior to ED presentation can help with the management of their intoxication. 


DEA recently released 7 page list of common street names for drugs of abuse.


But keep in mind that what our patients purchase and use may not actually contain the drug that they intended to purchase (e.g. fentanyl being sold as heroin).  



dea-drug-slang-code-words-may2017.pdf (2,993 Kb)

Category: Neurology

Title: What is the role of EEG for first-time seizures in the ED?

Keywords: seizure, electroencephalogram, EEG, epilepsy, antiepileptic (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/14/2017 by WanTsu Wendy Chang, MD
Click here to contact WanTsu Wendy Chang, MD



What is the role of EEG for first-time seizures in the ED?

  • Wyman and colleagues performed a prospective trial on the use of 30-minute routine electroencephalogram (EEG) in the ED after a first-time seizure or recurrent seizure without performance of a previous EEG to guide decision making in the initiation of antiepileptic medication.
  • A diagnosis of epilepsy based on EEG findings was made for 21% of patients (n=15/71).
  • Antiepileptic medication was initiated in 24% of patients (n=17/71), including 2 patients with abnormal but not epileptic EEG findings.

Take Home Point:  A 30-minute routine EEG in the ED in adults with an uncomplicated first-time seizure revealed a substantial number of epilepsy diagnosis and can change ED management with immediate initiation of antiepileptic medication.

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In patients with persistent VT/VF cardiac arrest, giving epinephrine before the 2nd defibrillation attempt (which should follow initial shock and 2 minutes of CPR) is associated with decreased ROSC, decreased hospital survival, and decreased functional outcome. 

Take Home Point:

"Electricity before Epi" in patients with persistent VT/VF arrest, at least for the initial epinephrine dose.

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Category: Orthopedics

Title: Shin Splints

Keywords: Runner, injury (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/10/2017 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 9/26/2017)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Shin Splints

Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) aka shin splints is an overuse injury of the tibia

Very common

-10 to 15% of running injuries and over 50% of leg pain syndromes

3 Characteristics

1)      Pain along the posteromedial border of the tibia

2)      Diffuse pain

3)      Pain that is activity related

Risk  Factors

Female sex, increased weight, previous running injury, and

Higher navicular drop (amount of foot pronation) and

Greater hip external rotation with the hip in flexion

Differential  Diagnosis

Tibial stress fracture, compartment syndrome, nerve entrapment (sural), lumbar radiculopathy and popliteal artery entrapment. 


A patient presents with altered mental status for unclear reasons- could it be anticholinergic syndrome? 


There are many medications (e.g. Beers Criteria, see pearl from March 5, 2017) and plants (e.g.: certain mushrooms) that can cause this life-threatening toxidrome.


The quick mnemonic for anticholinergic poisoning is:

·      Hot as a hare (hyperthermia)

·      Red as a beet (flushed)

·      Cry as a bone (decreased secretions)

·      Blind as a bat (mydriasis)

·      Mad as a hatter (delirium)

·      Full as a flask (urinary retention)


Bottom line: Keep anticholinergic syndrome within your differential for a patient with altered mental status without a clear cause.  


Note: An earlier version of this pearl incorrectly listed organophospahtes, which cause cholingeric toxicity.

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The poor sensitivity of bedside echocardiography to identify all-comers with pulmonary embolism is well documented. Most series cite a sensitivity and specificity of 31% to 72% and 87% to 98%, respectively (1,2). But as Nazerian et al demonstrate in their recent publication in Internal and Emergency Medicine, the diagnostic performance of bedside echocardiography is far more reliable in the subset of patients presenting in shock (3).

Of the 105 patients included in the final analysis, in 43 (40.9%) PE was determined to be the etiology of their shock. Bedside echo demonstrated notable diagnostic prowess when employed in this subset of patients, sensitivity (91%), specificity (87%), –LR (0.11), +LR (7.03). The sensitivity and –LR were further augmented when the venous US of the LE was included (sensitivity of 95% and –LR of 0.06) in the diagnostic workup. 

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Category: Geriatrics

Title: ACS in Elderly Patients (Submitted by Dr Katherine Grundmann)

Keywords: Geriatric, cardiology, symptoms, atypical, angina (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/4/2017 by Danya Khoujah, MBBS
Click here to contact Danya Khoujah, MBBS

Older patients with acute coronoary syndrome (ACS) are less likely to present with typical ischemic chest pain (pressure-like quality, substernal location, radiating to jaw, neck, left arm/shoulder and exertional component) compared with younger counterparts.

Typical angina symptoms predictive of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in younger patients were less helpful in predicting AMI in the elderly population.

Autonomic symptoms such as dyspnea, diaphoresis, nausea and vomiting, pre-syncope or syncope are more common accompaniments to chest discomfort in elderly ACS patients.

Symptoms may also be less likely to be induced by physical exertion; instead, they are often precipitated by hemodynamic stressors such as infection or dehydration

Bottom Line: Keep a high index of suspicion for ACS in older patients as they present atypically.

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Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: S.aureus in the urine and the risk for bacteremia

Keywords: MSSA, MRSA, bacturia, bacteremia, Staph aureus, Staphlococcus aureus (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/4/2017 by Jill Logan (Updated: 9/26/2017)
Click here to contact Jill Logan


  • The incidence of Staphylococcus aurea as a urinary pathogen is increasing, however, this finding may represent more than a simple urinary tract infection.
  • One review found an 8-21%rate of association between S. aureus in the urine with bacteremia.
  • Additional work up, including blood cultures, may be warranted in patients with systemic symptoms, lack of access to follow up, and no urinary tract pathology or instrumentation.

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Post-partum hemorrhage results in approximately 100,000 deaths annually and is the leading cause of maternal death globally.

In a just published study in the Lancet, among approximately 20,000 women from 21 countries enrolled in the WOMAN study, death due to bleeding was significantly reduced in women given tranexamic acid (1.5%) compared to those in the placebo group (1.9%) {RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.65–1.00; p=0.045)}. This was especially true in women given tranexamic acid with 3 hours of giving birth (1·2%) vs in the placebo group (1·7%) {RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.52–0.91; p=0·008)}.

Bottom line:

The authors’ interpretation “Tranexamic acid reduces death due to bleeding in women with post-partum haemorrhage with no adverse effects. When used as a treatment for postpartum haemorrhage, tranexamic acid should be given as soon as possible after bleeding onset.”

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