UMEM Educational Pearls

-Nonischemic cardiomyopathy, classically seen in post-menopausal women preceded by an emotional or physical stressor

-Named for characteristic appearance on echocardiography and ventriculography with apical ballooning and contraction of the basilar segments of the LV – looks like a Japanese octopus trap or “takotsubo" (pot with  narrow neck and round bottom)

-Clinical presentation usually similar to ACS with chest pain, dyspnea, syncope, and EKG changes not easily distinguished from ischemia (ST elevations – 43.7%, ST depressions, TW inversions, repol abnormalities) and elevation in cardiac biomarkers (though peak is typically much lower than in true ACS)


** Diagnosis of exclusion – only after normal (or near-normal) coronary angiography **


-Care is supportive and prognosis is excellent with full and early recovery in almost all patients (majority have normalization of LVEF within 1 week)

-Supportive care may include inotropes, vasopressors, IABP, and/or VA ECMO in profound cardiogenic shock


** LVOT Obstruction **

-occurs in 10-25% of patients with Takotsubo’s cardiomyopathy

-LV mid and apical hypokinesis with associated hypercontractility of basal segments of the LV predisposes to LV outflow tract obstruction

-Important to recognize as it is managed differently:

            -may be worsened by hypovolemia, inotropes, and/or systemic vasodilatation

            -mainstay of treatment is avoidance of the above triggers/exacerbating factors while increasing afterload

                    *phenylephrine is agent of choice +/- beta blockade 



Take Home Points:

***Diagnosis of exclusion!!! Presentation very similar to ACS and ACS MUST be ruled out

* Treatment is supportive and similar to usual care for cardiogenic shock. Can be severe and require mechanical circulatory support!

*10-25% have LVOT obstruction. Manage with phenylephrine +/- beta blockade

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75 y/o M is brought in by EMS after he fell off the light rail and hit his head. In the ED he is A&Ox3, and is asking for a urinal. Two minutes later the tech comes running to show you the following:

What is the cause of this patients Jolly Rancher Green Apple looking urine sample? 

Show Answer

Category: Pediatrics

Title: What is the diagnosis?

Keywords: foreign body, choking (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/16/2018 by Jenny Guyther, MD
Click here to contact Jenny Guyther, MD


Patient: 11 month old with trouble breathing and color change after a family member sprayed air freshener.  Symptoms have since resolved.

What are you concerned about in the attached xrays?

Show Answer

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11_mo_lung_FB_word.docx (408 Kb)

Category: Toxicology

Title: Bupropion Cardiotoxicity

Keywords: Cardiotoxicity, Bupropion, Ventricular dysrhythmia (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/15/2018 by Kathy Prybys, DO
Click here to contact Kathy Prybys, DO

Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) is unique monocyclic antidepressant and smoking cessation agent that is structurally similar to amphetamines.  Bupropion blocks dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake and antagonizes acetylcholine at nicotinic receptors.

  • One of the most common causes of drug-induced seizures.
  • Sinus tachycardia is the most frequently seen cardiac effects with overdose.
  • QTc prolongation and ventricular dysrhythmias can occur in severe overdose. New evidence supports this is not related to cardiac sodium channel block but likely due to blockade of the delayed rectifying (ikr) potassium channel and gap junction inhibition in the myocardium simulating effects class IA effect.


Bottom line:

Bupropion is a common cause of drug induced seizures but in severe overdose can also cause prolonged QTc and wide complex ventricular dysrhythmia that may be responsive to sodium bicarbonate. All patients with an overdose of bupropion should have an ECG performed and cardiac monitoring to watch for conduction delays and life-threatening arrhythmias.




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Category: Neurology

Title: Occipital Nerve Block for Migraine?

Keywords: occipital nerve block, migraine, headache (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/14/2018 by WanTsu Wendy Chang, MD (Emailed: 2/15/2018) (Updated: 2/15/2018)
Click here to contact WanTsu Wendy Chang, MD

  • Greater occipital nerve (GON) block with local anesthetics is an alternate treatment option for headaches.
  • Zhang et al. conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 7 randomized controlled trials assessing the efficacy of GON block for migraine.
  • Pooled outcome suggests that GON block: 
    • Reduces pain intensity (mean difference -1.24 [-1.98, -0.49], p=0.001)
    • Decreases analgesia medication consumption (mean difference -1.10 [-2.07, -0.14], p=0.02)
    • Has no significant impact on headache duration (mean difference -6.96 [-14.09, 0.18], p=0.06)

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Category: Orthopedics

Title: Femoral neck stress fracture

Keywords: Hip pain, athletes (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/10/2018 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 2/22/2018)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Femoral neck stress fractures


Represents 5% of all stress fractures

Usually due to repetitive abductor muscle contraction

As with all stress fractures can occur in 2 types

1)      Insufficiency type (normal physiologic stress on abnormal bone)

2)      Fatigue type (abnormal/excessive physiologic stress on normal bone)

2 locations on interest:

1)      Compression side (inferior femoral neck)

2)      Tension side (superior femoral neck)

History: Insidious onset of groin or lateral hip pain associated with weight bearing

Exam: Antalgic gait, pain with hip log roll and with FABER (hip flexion, Abduction and external rotation test)


Compression side: reduced weight bearing and activity modification

Tension side:  Non weight bearing (due to high risk of progression to displacement with limited weight bearing) AND surgical consultation for elective pinning to prevent displacement. If displaced, will require ORIF

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Category: Pediatrics

Title: Mucositis... when the shoe doesn't fit (submitted by Alexis Salerno, MD)

Keywords: Kawasaki's disease, SJS, TEN, dermatitis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/9/2018 by Mimi Lu, MD
Click here to contact Mimi Lu, MD


Case:  5 year old presents to the ED with 2 weeks of fever. She has extensive cracked, bleeding lips and a rash on her hands and feet. She was recently diagnosed with “walking pneumonia” and hand, foot and mouth disease this week. Her pediatrician sent her in for further workup after she was found to have an elevated CRP on outpatient labs. A similar picture appears in the link below:

What's the diagnosis?


Show Answer

Hyperoxia and the Post-Arrest Patient

  • Current post-arrest guideilnes recommend titrating supplemental O2 to avoid hypoxia and limit exposure to hyperoxia.
  • Importantly, these recommendations are based primarily on retrospective studies that have used ABG values within the first 24 hours following ROSC.
  • The latest study to evaluate the impact of hyperoxia following cardiac arrest was just published in Circulation
  • This study is a prospective, cohort study that evaluated the association between early hyperoxia and poor neurologic outcome in adults following cardiac arrest. (ABGs were obtained at 1 hour and 6 hours following ROSC)
  • Of 280 patients, 38% were exposed to early hyperoxia (defined as a PaO2 > 300 mm Hg)
  • Take Home Points
    • Early hyperoxia was found to be an independent predictor of poor neurologic outcome at hospital discharge.
    • One hour longer duration of hyperoxia was associated with a 3% increase in the risk of poor neurologic outcome
    • SaO2 could not reliably exclude the presence of hyperoxia.

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Category: Geriatrics

Title: Geriatric Dizziness (Submitted by: Dr. Katherine Grundmann)

Keywords: dizziness, CT, MRI, Cerebellar (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/5/2018 by Danya Khoujah, MBBS (Updated: 2/22/2018)
Click here to contact Danya Khoujah, MBBS

15% of older adults presenting to ED for dizziness have serious etiologies; 4-6% are stroke-related and sensitivity of CT for identifying stroke or intracranial lesion in dizziness is poor (16%), so if CNS etiology suspected, seek neuro consult or MRI (83% sensitivity)


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Debating between cefepime or piperacillin/tazobactam for your septic patient? Use this table to help you decide.





Gram Negative Spectrum

Pseudomonas aeruginosa 



Aerobic gram negative organisms 

E. coli 

Klebsiella sp. 

Proteus mirabilis 

M catarrhalis  

H. influenza 

E. coli 

Klebsiella sp. 

Proteus mirabilis 

M. catarrhalis 

H. influenza 

Anerobic gram negative organisms 


B. fragilis 


Gram Positive Spectrum




Aerobic gram positive organisms 



Group A Strep 

S. pneumoniae 




Group A Strep 

S. pneumoniae 

E. faecalis 

Anaerobic gram positive organisms 

P. acnes 


P. acnes 


Clostridium sp. 

Infection Site Concerns

CNS Penetration 



Urine Penetration 



Lung Penetration 



Dosing Frequency (Normal Renal Function)



1Tazobactam CNS penetration is limited, thus limiting antipseudomonal activity in the CNS 

2. Low pulmonary penetration, may not achieve therapeutic levels in patients with critical illness 


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Category: Pediatrics

Title: Name that Belly Pain!

Keywords: Pediatrics, Abdominal Pain (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/2/2018 by Megan Cobb, MD
Click here to contact Megan Cobb, MD


Your patient is an18 months old female with intermittent abdominal pain for the last 4-5 days. She has history of constipation and soy allergy, seen at an outside hospital three days ago for the same. She had an xray and was discharged home with instructions for at home clean out with diagnosis of constipation. 

Mother is bringing her to your ED because the pain is back. The laxatives helped somewhat, but her symptoms have returned. She reports that the patient cries spontaneously, lasting 1-2 minutes, then completely resolves. These episodes happen at multiple times during the day. 

ROS: Decreased appetite and energy, but NO fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, abdominal distension, hematuria, or lethargy. 

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Colicky2018.jpg (100 Kb)

Category: Toxicology

Title: Perils of OTCs

Posted: 2/1/2018 by Kathy Prybys, DO (Emailed: 2/2/2018) (Updated: 2/2/2018)
Click here to contact Kathy Prybys, DO


47 year old woman presents with cough, headache, weakness, and low grade fever. Her symptoms have been present for several days. Vital signs are temperature 99.9 F, HR 96, RR 16, BP 140/88, Pulse Ox 98%.  Physical exam is nonfocal. She is Influenza negative. She is treated with Ibuprofen and oral fluids.  Upon discharge she mentions she is having difficulty hearing and feels dizzy. Upon further questioning she admits to ringing in her ears. What tests should you order?

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Category: Critical Care

Title: Is there a benefit to steroids in septic shock?

Keywords: sepsis, septic shock, glucocorticoids, steroids, hydrocortisone (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/29/2018 by Kami Hu, MD (Emailed: 1/30/2018)
Click here to contact Kami Hu, MD

As hospital volumes increase and ED patient boarding becomes more commonplace, emergency physicians may find themselves managing critically ill patients beyond the initial resuscitation.

The benefit of glucocorticoids in critically ill patients with septic shock has remained a topic of controversy for decades due to conflicting studies, including the 2002 Annane trial and the 2008 CORTICUS trial, which had opposing results when it came to the mortality benefit of steroids.

The results of the eagerly-awaited ADRENAL trial, a multicenter randomized controlled trial investigating the benefit of steroids in septic shock, were released earlier this month:

  • 3658 patients from 69 different medical and surgical ICUs
  • Adults with septic shock requiring mechanical ventilation (including noninvasive) and vasopressors/inotropes for at least 4 hours
  • Continuous infusion hydrocortisone 200mg/day vs placebo for 7 days or until ICU discharge, if shorter
  • No mortality benefit at 90 days (primary outcome) or at 28 days (secondary outcome)
  • Other secondary outcomes:
    • Hydrocortisone group = Shorter ICU LOS, shorter duration of shock, shorter duration of initial mechanical ventilation, fewer # of patients receiving a blood transfusion
    • No difference in: mortality at 28 days, hospital LOS, recurrence of shock, total vent-free days, mean volume of blood transfused in patients receiving blood products, use of renal replacement therapy, development of new bacteremia/fungemia


Take Home Points:

1. Administration of standard daily dose hydrocortisone by infusion does not seem to affect mortality in septic shock.

2. Emergency providers should continue to consider stress-dose steroids in patients with shock and a high risk of adrenal insufficiency (e.g., chronic steroid therapy, genetic disorders, infectious adrenalitis, etc).  


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Category: Orthopedics

Title: Dental Avulsion in the field/sporting event

Keywords: Dental avulsion, tooth, trauma (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/27/2018 by Brian Corwell, MD
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Dental Avulsion in the field/sporting event


-  Only replace avulsed secondary teeth

-  Handle the tooth by the crown only

-  Rinse tooth with cold running water gently (the root should not be wiped)

-  Immediate attempt to reimplant permanent tooth into socket by 1st capable person:

*  Time is tooth: Each minute tooth is out of socket reduces tooth viability by 1%

*  Best chance of success if reimplant done within 5–15 min*?  Poor tooth viability if avulsed for >1 hr

-  If unsuccessful, place tooth in a transport solution (from most to least desirable):

Hanks balanced salt solution (HBSS)

*  Balanced pH culture media available commercially in the Save-A-Tooth kit

*  Effective hours after avulsion

Cold milk:

*  Best alternative storage medium

*  Place tooth in a container of milk that is then packed in ice (prevents dilution)


*  Store in a container of parent or child's saliva

-  Never use tap water or dry transport

Category: Neurology

Title: Brain Tumor Imaging 101

Keywords: edema, hemorrhage, tumor, CT, MRI, contrast (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/24/2018 by Danya Khoujah, MBBS (Updated: 2/22/2018)
Click here to contact Danya Khoujah, MBBS

Although MRI is more sensitive for identifying tumors of the CNS, CT is usually the first line imaging modality in the ED. Some pearls:

  • Hyperattenuation = bright = dense (blood)
  • Hypoattenuation = dark = radiolucent (fluid, air, lipid, scar)
  • Masses that are darker + increased volume or mass effect = edema (image 1)
  • Masses that are darker + decreased volume = scar tissue or atrophy (image 2)
  • Masses that are bright + edema = hemorrhage (image 3)
  • Adding IV contrast improves detection of tumors: abnormal enhancement from disruption of blood brain barrier, necrosis or increased vascularity. (Image 4)

Image 1 Courtesy of Radiopedia.orgImage 2: courtesy of Dr Chris O'Donnell, Radiopaedia.orgImage 3: courtesy of Dr David Cuete, Radiopaedia.orgImage 4: Courtesy of David Kernick, and Stuart Williams Br J Gen Pract2011;61:409-411

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Category: Pediatrics

Title: Oral morphine versus ibuprofen in postoperative orthopedic pain in children

Keywords: Pain control in children, opiates, NSAIDS, motrin, orthopedic (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/19/2018 by Jenny Guyther, MD
Click here to contact Jenny Guyther, MD

This was a randomized superiority trial of 0.5mg/kg of oral morphine every 6 hours to 10 mg/kg of ibuprofen every 6 hours in children 5-17 years old who had minor outpatient orthopedic surgeries.  There were 77 patients in each group.  Primary outcome was pain as rated on the Faces pain scale.  Secondary outcomes were additional analgesic requirements, adverse events, and unplanned visits to the doctor.

Bottom line: Oral morphine was not superior to ibuprofen and both drugs decreased pain with no difference in efficacy.  Morphine was associated with more adverse events.


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Category: Toxicology

Title: Liver dialysis for poisoning-MARS therapy

Keywords: Liver dialysis, MARS (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/18/2018 by Kathy Prybys, DO (Emailed: 1/19/2018) (Updated: 1/19/2018)
Click here to contact Kathy Prybys, DO

Acute liver failure carries a high morbidity without liver transplantation. Liver support systems can act as “bridge” until an organ becomes available for the transplant procedure or until the liver recovers from injury. Artificial liver support systems temporally provide liver detoxification utilizing albumin as scavenger molecule to clear the toxins without providing synthetic functions of the liver (coagulation factors). One of the most widely used devices is the Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS).This system has 3 different fluid compartments: blood circuit, albumin with charcoal and anion exchange column, and a dialysate circuit that removes protein bound and water soluble toxins with albumin.

  • Mars has been used in several case reports to treat acetaminophen, Amanita phalloides,Phenytoin, lamotrigine, theophylline, and calcilum channel blockers poisonings.
  • All the extracorporeal liver assist devices are able to remove biological substances (ammonia, urea, creatinine, bilirubin, bile acids, amino acids, cytokines, vasoactive agents) but the real impact on the patient's clinical course has still to be determined.

Bottom Line

MARS therapy could be a potentially promising life saving treatment for patients with acute poisoning from drugs that have high protein-binding capacity and are metabolized by the liver, especially when concomitment liver failure. Consider consultation and transfer of patients to liver center.




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Category: Orthopedics

Title: Concussion Where are we now?

Keywords: Head injury, concussion, sideline (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/13/2018 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 2/22/2018)
Click here to contact Brian Corwell, MD

Concussion – Where are we now?

The Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 5th edition (SCAT 5) was released in 2017

It is a standardized tool to assist health care professionals in the evaluation of sport associated concussions

It should be used for those 13 years and older (there is a child version for younger athletes)

Print and bring to the sideline for your next coverage event!

Some points to consider:

It should take at least 10 minutes to complete. Any less and you may not be performing the test correctly

The SCAT5 is the standard tool used in concussion assessment in the NCAA and NFL and other professional sports

Some symptoms of concussion appear over time. For example, an athlete may have zero or minimal symptoms immediately after yet be considerably symptomatic in 10 to 15 minutes.

               -Follow up screening evaluations are essential even in those with a negative initial sideline screening test

The SCAT5 should be used immediately after injury

               -Utility decreases post injury after days 3-5

               -The included symptom checklist has utility in tracking recovery

               -Attempt to perform in an environment free of distractions (crowd noise, bad weather)

The clinical utility of the SCAT5 can be enhanced by adding assessment of other factors such as reaction time, balance assessment, video-observable signs (if available) and oculomotor screening.

Tongue laceration is a common injury in children - occurring in the setting of falls and seizures. The most common location is the anterior dorsal portion of the tongue. Priorities are to evaluate for airway compromise (swelling, hematoma, bleeding) and retained foreign bodies (teeth fragments, etc). The vast majority of lacerations DO NOT require repair and do well with routine dental hygiene and antiseptic mouth wash. While there is no clear consensus for indications to repair, considerations include uncontrolled bleeding, airway compromise, wounds greater than 2 cm, and wounds that gape while the tongue is still in the mouth. Use large absorbable sutures (like 4-0 chromic gut). Check out this great video from EM:RAP -

Category: Toxicology

Title: Benefit of activated charcoal in large acetaminophen ( >= 40 gm) overdose.

Keywords: activated charcoal, large acetaminophen overdose, NAC dose (PubMed Search)

Posted: 1/11/2018 by Hong Kim, MD, MPH (Updated: 2/22/2018)
Click here to contact Hong Kim, MD, MPH

Acetaminophen (APAP) overdose is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. and Europe. Large APAP ingestion can result in hepatotoxicity despite the early initiation of n-acetylcysteine (NAC). 

A recently published study from Austrialia investigated the effect of activate charcoal and increasing the NAC dose for large APAP overdose patients (3rd bag: 100 to 200 mg/kg over 16 hours) during first 21 hours of NAC therapy

acetaminophen ratio (first APAP level taken between 4 to 16 hour post ingestion / APAP level on the Rumack nomogram line at that time point) was determined to compare APAP levels at different time points among study sample


first APAP level at 4 hour post ingestion = 400

APAP level on the Rumack APAP nomogram at 4 hour post ingestion = 150

APAP ratio = 400/150 = 2.67



  1. Activated charcoal (AC): if given within 4 hours, AC significantly decreased the APAP ratio (OR: 1.4 vs. 2.2)
  2. Increased dose of NAC during the first 21 hour significantly decreased the risk of hepatotoxicity (OR: 0.27; 95% CI: 0.08 - 0.94).



  1. Administration of AC in patients with history of large APAP overdose (>=40 gm) within 4 hour of ingestion can still be beneficial.
  2. Increasing NAC dosing (3rd bag in first 21 hour thearpy) may decrease the risk of hepatotoxicity. 

Note: Any increase in NAC dosing from the standard 21 hour therapy should be performed after consulting your regional poison center.

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