Publication Date: december 2019 (Volume 21, Number 12)
CME Credits: 4 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™, 4 ACEP Category I credits, 4 AAFP Prescribed credits, and 4 AOA Category 2-A or 2-B CME credits. CME expires 12/01/2022.
Specialty CME Credits: Included as part of the 4 credits, this CME activity is eligible for 2 Stroke CME credits, subject to your state and institutional approval.
Acute dizziness is a common presentation in the emergency department. Due to newer research, the diagnostic approach to dizziness has changed, now focusing on its timing and triggers of instead of the patient’s symptom quality (vertigo versus lightheadedness). Each timing-and-triggers category has its own differential diagnosis and diagnostic approach, which will aid emergency clinicians in distinguishing benign causes of dizziness from life-threatening causes. Brain imaging, even with magnetic resonance imaging, has important limitations in ruling out stroke presenting with dizziness. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can be treated with repositioning maneuvers at the bedside, offering cost-effective management options.
Excerpt From This Issue
The day shift signs out to you a 44-year-old previously healthy man. He is currently at CT. His dizziness started 6 hours previously and has been present ever since. He describes unsteadiness and “feeling like I am drunk,” and has vomited 3 times. He denies headache or neck pain, weakness, or numbness. His vital signs are normal. There is some left-beating horizontal nystagmus in primary gaze and in leftward gaze. The head impulse test is normal. The sign-out is that if his CT scan is normal, he can go home with meclizine and follow-up with his PCP in 2 days. That sounds reasonable, but you wonder if there is something else that needs to be considered...
The 70-year-old woman in room 3 complains of “lightheadedness” that has been going on for 5 days. It goes away at times, and gets worse when she gets out of bed. The dizziness has woken her from sleep several times. She has hypertension and high cholesterol. Her vital signs are normal. Sitting up in the stretcher, she is asymptomatic but feels apprehensive about moving her head. There is no nystagmus in primary gaze. You wonder if you should order a CT or if there is a better diagnostic test...