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Clinical Pathway for Management of Hemorrhage in Patients Taking Direct Oral Anticoagulant Agents September 10, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Feature Update , 1 comment so far

Direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) agents have become commonly used over the last 9 years for treatment and prophylaxis for thromboembolic conditions, following approvals by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

These anticoagulant agents, which include a direct thrombin inhibitor and factor Xa inhibitors, offer potential advantages for patients over warfarin; however, bleeding emergencies with DOACs can present diagnostic and therapeutic challenges because, unlike traditional anticoagulants, their therapeutic effect cannot be easily monitored directly with common clotting assays.

This clinical pathway will help you improve care in the management of hemorrhage in patients taking direct oral anticoagulant agents. Download now.

Clinical Pathway for Management of Hemorrhage in Patients Taking Direct Oral Anticoagulant Agents

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Brain Teaser: When should ketorolac be avoided? August 22, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Brain Tease , add a comment

Test your knowledge and see how much you know about pediatric pain management in the emergency department.

Did you get it right? Click here to find out!

The correct answer: C.


Review this Pediatric Emergency Medicine Practice issue to get up-to-date on guidance on assessing pain in pediatric patients and provides evidence-based recommendations for developing strategies to successfully manage pain in pediatric patients.

How best to assess his anticoagulation status July 29, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : What's Your Diagnosis , add a comment

As you begin your shift, the first patient is a 70-year-old man brought in for a ground-level fall with isolated head injury. A review of the patient’s history reveals atrial fibrillation, and he is currently on anticoagulation with apixaban. A rapidly obtained CT scan of the head shows
a subdural hematoma.

As you resuscitate the patient, you wonder how best to assess his anticoagulation status and how best to address reversal.

What are your next steps?

Case Conclusion

Your patient on apixaban with traumatic subdural hematoma received initial resuscitation focusing on maintenance of the airway, breathing, and circulation, as appropriate for head trauma. After reviewing your hospital’s policy on DOAC reversal and local availability of specific reversal agents for this DOAC, you administered a dose of 4-factor PCC at 50 units/kg in the ED. He was admitted to the neurosurgical ICU for continued care, and a repeat CT of the head showed no interval expansion of the hemorrhage.

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Intravenous Thrombolysis in Acute Ischemic Stroke July 17, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Feature Update , add a comment

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and an important cause of long-term disability. Approximately 795,000 people suffer from stroke each year (610,000 primary strokes and 185,000 recurrent strokes),1 with ischemic stroke representing the vast majority of all stroke types (87%).

The cornerstone of acute ischemic stroke treatment relies on rapid clearance of an offending thrombus in the cerebrovascular system. Advanced neuroimaging and clinical trials, together with continuous adjustments of inclusion/exclusion criteria, have helped emergency clinicians to rapidly and more accurately identify the patients who will benefit from acute stroke treatment.

Inclusion and Exclusion of Intravenous Thrombolysis: A Changing Landscape

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently published updated guidelines for stroke management. Table 1, summarizes the updated 2018 AHA indications and contraindications for treatment with IVT. Every patient presenting with symptoms of acute stroke within 4.5 hours of last known well or usual state should be triaged for potential IVT. Patients should be evaluated with computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain and systolic blood pressure (SBP) should be maintained at < 185 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) at < 110 mm Hg. Every eligible patient should receive IVT without delay. Changes and adjustments of inclusion/exclusion criteria (in order to minimize the risk of any complication) have been made and are discussed in following sections.

Table 1. Eligibility Criteria and Exclusion Criteria for Intravenous Thrombolysis
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Brain Teaser: Do you know which of the following patients meets the criteria for anaphylaxis? June 24, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Brain Tease , add a comment

Test your knowledge and see how much you know about recognition and treatment of anaphylaxis in pediatric patients.

Did you get it right? Click here to find out!

The correct answer: A.

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Clinical Pathway for Diagnosis of Anaphylaxis in Pediatric Patients June 7, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Feature Update , 1 comment so far

Anaphylaxis is a time-sensitive, clinical diagnosis that is often misdiagnosed because the presenting signs and symptoms are similar to those of other disease processes. An allergic reaction is an overreaction of the immune system to a foreign substance (allergen). Anaphylaxis is a type of an allergic reaction that is an
acute, severe systemic hypersensitivity reaction that can rapidly lead to death.

The signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis are similar to other common illnesses, which can make diagnosis challenging. Atypical anaphylaxis can be even more difficult to diagnose, because some of the typical signs of anaphylaxis are not present.

This clinical pathway will help you diagnose pediatric patient with anaphylaxis. Download now.

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A 3-year-old girl with a known peanut allergy May 31, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : What's Your Diagnosis , add a comment

Case Recap:
A 3-year-old girl with a known peanut allergy arrives to your ED via EMS. The girl was given a cookie by a classmate and immediately developed a generalized urticarial rash. EMS personnel gave her 12.5 mg of oral diphenhydramine and transported her to the ED. On examination, the patient has a heart rate of 160 beats/min with normal oxygenation and perfusion. She has bilateral periorbital swelling, without respiratory distress, wheezing, vomiting, or diarrhea. The accompanying daycare teacher tells you that the girl has previously been admitted to the intensive care unit for anaphylaxis.

You call the girl’s parents for more information and wonder what to do in the meantime. Is diphenhydramine sufficient treatment for this patient? Are corticosteroids indicated? Is this just an allergic reaction or could it be an anaphylactic reaction? What are the criteria for diagnosis of anaphylaxis? What are the indications for administering epinephrine in patients with anaphylaxis?

Case Conclusion:
The parents of the 3-year-old girl stated that the girl’s previous anaphylactic reaction began with urticaria and facial swelling that progressed, resulting in a critical care admission for airway compromise due to angioedema. You administered epinephrine 0.01 mg/kg IM for suspected anaphylaxis and observed the patient in the ED for 4 hours. The girl had complete resolution of the facial swelling and urticarial rash. You reviewed the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis with the parents, discussed allergen avoidance, and demonstrated appropriate use of an epinephrine autoinjector. You discharged the patient with a prescription for 2 epinephrine autoinjectors and an anaphylaxis action plan.

Did you get it right?

Brush up on most recent best practices in evaluating and treating pediatric patients with anaphylaxis in the ED with the latest issue of Pediatric Emergency Medicine Practice issue, Anaphylaxis in Pediatric Patients: Early Recognition and Treatment Are Critical for Best Outcomes.

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It is Stroke Awareness Month! May 16, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Feature Update , add a comment

10 Risk Management Pitfalls For Cervical Artery Dissections

Cervical artery dissections involve the carotid or vertebral arteries. Although the overall incidence is low, they remain a common cause of stroke in children, young adults, and trauma patients. Symptoms such as headache, neck pain, and dizziness are commonly seen in the emergency department, but may not be apparent in the obtunded trauma patient. A missed diagnosis of cervical artery dissection can result in devastating neurological sequelae, so emergency clinicians must act quickly to recognize this event and begin treatment as soon as possible while neurological consultation is obtained.

Use these risk management pitfalls to avoid unwanted outcomes when performing cervical artery dissections. Download now.

1. “This patient has a left temporal headache that radiates into his left ear. His examination is benign, except his pupil is smaller on that side. I did a noncontrast CT head and it’s negative. The headache is probably just due to a hard game of basketball yesterday. I’m going to give him some IV ketorolac and send him out.”

Dissections can occur spontaneously or as a result of minor trauma, even from a basketball game. Failure to consider the diagnosis will result in a missed diagnosis. Headaches in carotid artery dissections can be nonspecific, but are mostly located in the frontal or temporal regions; the radiation to the ear is also characteristic. His examination is also concerning for a partial Horner syndrome. Both of those are suspicious for carotid artery dissection and warrant further vascular imaging.

2. “She has a history of migraines, and she says that this one is different from what she usually feels, but it definitely sounds like a migraine because it is unilateral, pulsatile, and she had a visual aura. I’m going to give her the usual migraine cocktail and see how she does.”

Not suspecting cervical arterial dissection in the beginning of the evaluation results in a significant delay to diagnosis. It can be many hours by the time she has a couple of migraine cocktails before you realize her headache isn’t better and you need to rethink your plan. Due to the risk of early stroke in these patients, a delay in diagnosis could lead to long-term neurological sequelae. Headaches in carotid dissections can be unilateral, pulsatile, and with an aura. Any time a patient with a history of migraines states that the symptoms are not typical, take note.

3. “A 35-year-old woman was attacked by her boyfriend. He hit her on the right side of the neck near her jaw, causing her head to snap around to the left. Her neurological examination is completely normal. She is in a great deal of pain, but it seems to be related to the soft-tissue injury from the hit, because her noncontrast CT head and c-spine are negative. I’m going to treat her pain and see how she feels.”

Pain due to the trauma could mask specific signs or symptoms of dissection. In these patients, relying on the history to identify high-risk factors is important. Due to the location of the blow, it may have caused a hyperextension and rotation of her head in addition to direct trauma, which could have caused a dissection. Patients with risk factors should have advanced vascular imaging (CTA or MRA).

4. “I couldn’t do a neurological examination because she was in too much pain. I’ll treat her headache and then try again later.”

Although it seems kind to give patients a little time to obtain comfort before performing an examination, a prompt neurological examination is absolutely necessary in order to determine any findings that need to be addressed immediately, such as an acute stroke.

5. “A 12-year-old boy fell off of his bike after running into a parked car, and then he had a seizure. The noncontrast CT head and c-spine were normal. He is still in some pain, but I don’t see anything abnormal on his neuro examination, so I’m going to clear his c-spine.”

Pediatric patients with dissection have different symptoms from adults; seizure has been shown to be a presenting symptom in 12.5% of cases. The seizure, along with the mechanism, should prompt vascular imaging to assess for a cervical artery dissection before the cervical collar is removed.

6. “I really thought that patient with the headache, anterolateral neck pain, and partial Horner syndrome had a carotid dissection, but the CTA was read as negative, so I guess I was wrong. I’ll just treat her pain and send her home.”

CTA is an excellent screening tool, but it is not 100% sensitive and can miss small intimal flaps, intramural hematomas, or a slight fusiform dilatation of the vessel. In patients for whom there is a high suspicion of dissection and a negative or equivocal CTA or MRA, further imaging with MRI or digital subtraction angiography is indicated.

7. “The CTA showed a dissection, so I gave him an aspirin and called neurology. However, he now says he doesn’t want to wait and wants to go home. His neuro examination is normal, so I was thinking of sending him out on aspirin.”

Sending the patient home in the acute setting without consultation is not a good idea. Due to high risk of stroke in the first 24 hours and the high incidence of progression of lower-grade dissections, these patients warrant close monitoring and early follow-up imaging to determine the need for escalation of care.

8. “The intubated trauma patient had his noncontrast CT head and c-spine and the radiologist just called and said there is a temporal bone fracture through the carotid canal. I’m going to pass it along and let the trauma service finish the workup after he gets to the intensive care unit.”

This will lead to a significant delay in diagnosis, which could be devastating for the patient. Due to its sensitivity and availability in the ED, a CTA should be performed prior to the patient being transported upstairs, so treatment can be started immediately.

9. “The CTA showed a vertebral artery dissection on that patient from the roller coaster ride, so I consulted the neurology service for admission. Her neuro examination is normal, so I’m going to wait to treat her and see what they recommend.”

An antithrombotic agent for stroke prevention needs to be started on this patient and can be started in the ED to avoid treatment delays. Studies in this population have not shown superiority of one over the other, so the choice of aspirin or heparin depends on patient factors. For uncomplicated dissections, antiplatelet agents are sufficient, and heparin is preferred in patients with an acute thrombus or high risk for thromboembolic events if no contraindications exist.

10. “The patient is a 42-year-old man presenting with an acute onset of right-sided hemiplegia and global aphasia that started 1 hour ago while at the grocery store. His CT head was negative for hemorrhage, but the CTA showed a dissection in his left carotid artery with about 50% vessel occlusion. Unfortunately, that excludes him from treatment with rtPA due to the risk of hemorrhage or intramural hematoma expansion.”

Data have shown rtPA to be as safe in patients with cervical dissections as with patients with strokes due to other causes. Therefore, this patient should be treated with rtPA as soon as possible if there are no contraindications. Endovascular treatment should also be considered if there are contraindications to IV rtPA or if he does not improve after treatment.

Need more information or Stroke CME?
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It is Trauma Awareness Month! Can you solve the trauma case below? May 10, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : What's Your Diagnosis , add a comment

Do you need to do anything regarding the missing fragment? — ED Management of Dental Trauma in Pediatric Patients

Case Recap:
You are then asked to see a 15-year-old adolescent boy who has come in with a tooth avulsion. He was at basketball practice when another player accidentally elbowed him in the mouth. He did not lose consciousness and has pain only in his mouth. He was immediately brought to your ED, which is about 15 minutes away from where the accident happened. His coach arrives with the boy’s tooth in a container of milk. On physical examination, the patient has lost his right lateral incisor and a clot remains where his tooth had been. How much time do you have to replace the tooth to have the best success of replantation? What do you need to consider while handling, storing, and cleaning the tooth?

Case Conclusion:
For the 15-year-old boy, you decided to replace the tooth as soon as possible. The patient had no other medical problems. You used Yankauer suction and light irrigation to remove the clot from the socket. You held the tooth by the crown, briefly rinsed it off, and used firm, gentle pressure to reinsert the tooth without any difficulty. You had Coe PakTM paste available at your facility, and you created a temporary splint to secure the tooth. You instructed the mother to follow up with the dentist tomorrow and to provide only a soft diet until then. You told the coach and the boy’s mom that, in the future, they should attempt to reimplant the tooth at the time of the accident and instructed them on the steps involved.

Did you get it right?

Click here to review the issue, Emergency Department Management of Dental Trauma: Recommendations for Improved Outcomes in Pediatric Patients (Trauma CME and Pharmacology CME).

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A 2-year-old girl with upper respiratory infection symptoms — Brain Teaser. Do you know the answer? April 18, 2019

Posted by Andy Jagoda, MD in : Brain Tease , 1 comment so far

Test your knowledge and see how much you know about diagnosing and managing pediatric community-acquired pneumonia.


Did you get it right? Click here to find out!

The correct answer: B.

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Last Modified: 09-22-2019
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