Hypocalcemia

Brief H&P:

34M with a history of HTN, polysubstance abuse, presenting with muscle cramps. He reported onset of diffuse muscle cramping 1-hour prior to presentation while showering. Symptoms involved bilateral upper and lower extremities and resolved spontaneously.

On initial evaluation, the patient was tachycardic and hypertensive. Examination was notable for tremors in bilateral upper extremities with outstretched hands, as well as of extended tongue. Other notable findings included spasm of the upper extremity during blood pressure measurement, hyperreflexia and clonus.

Laboratory evaluation was notable for normal total calcium level, low ionized calcium level, primary respiratory alkalosis, and elevated anion gap metabolic acidosis.

The patient was treated with intravenous fluids, benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal, and calcium gluconate 4g IV and was admitted.

Calcium Homeostasis1

  • Fraction
    • 15% bound to anions (phosphate, lactate, citrate)
    • 40% bound to albumin
    • 45% free (regulated by PTH, Vit-D)
  • Conditions causing changes in total calcium (without affecting ionized calcium)
    • Low albumin causes hypocalcemia. Corrected = measured + [0.8 x (4-albumin)]
    • Elevated albumin causes hypercalcemia
    • Multiple myeloma causes hypercalcemia
  • Conditions causing changes in ionized calcium (without affecting total calcium)
    • Alkalemia causes increased ionized calcium binding to albumin and decreases ionized calcium levels
    • Hyperphosphatemia causes increased ionized calcium binding to phosphate and decreases ionized calcium levels
    • Hyperparathyroidism causes decreased ionized calcium binding to albumin and increases ionized calcium levels

Causes of Hypocalcemia1,2,3

Algorithm for the Evaluation of Hypocalcemia

Symptoms1

Acute Chronic

Neuromuscular

  • Paresthesia
  • Tetany
  • Carpopedal spasm
  • Trousseau
  • Chvostek
  • Seizure
  • Laryngospasm

Cardiac

  • QT prolongation
  • Hypotension
  • Heart failure
  • Arrhythmia

CNS

  • Basal ganglia calcifications
  • EPS
  • Parkinsonism
  • Dementia

Ophthalmologic

  • Cataracts

Management

  • Severe (symptomatic, QT prolongation)
    • Calcium gluconate 1-2g IV in 50mL of D5W over 10-20min followed by slow infusion of additional 2g over 2 hours.
  • Asymptomatic
    • Calcium gluconate 1g PO q6h
    • Calcitriol 0.2mcg PO BID

References:

  1. Yu, AS. Relation between total and ionized serum calcium concentrations. In: UpToDate, Post TW (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA. (Accessed on October 6th, 2016.)
  2. Cooper MS, Gittoes NJL. Diagnosis and management of hypocalcaemia. BMJ. 2008;336(7656):1298-1302. doi:10.1136/bmj.39582.589433.BE.
  3. Hannan FM, Thakker RV. Investigating hypocalcaemia. BMJ. 2013;346(may09 1):f2213-f2213. doi:10.1136/bmj.f2213.

Adrenal/Pituitary Emergencies

Adrenal Emergencies

  • Hormones: aldosterone, cortisol, androgens, catecholamines
  • Adrenal insufficiency
    • Primary
      • Causes
        • Autoimmune (associated with other endocrinopathies, PTH, DM)
        • Infection (TB, viral, meningococcemia)
        • Infiltration (sarcoidosis, amyloidosis)
        • Hemorrhage (trauma, anti-coagulation)
        • Malignancy (primary, metastatic)
      • Signs/Symptoms
        • AMS
        • Hypotension (refractory)
        • GI: anorexia, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea
        • Hyperpigmentation
      • Labs
        • Hyponatremia
        • Hyperkalemia
        • Hypercalcemia
        • Mild metabolic acidosis
        • Hypoglycemia
    • Secondary
      • Causes
        • Iatrogenic (>5mg prednisone/day for > 2 weeks)
        • Pituitary/sellar tumors
        • Hemorrhage (Sheehan)
        • Cranial radiation
      • Signs/Symptoms
        • RAAS function maintained, hypotension rare
        • Features of pituitary/hypothalamic dysfunction: menstrual disturbances, headache, vision changes, galactorrhea, acromegaly
    • Adrenal Crisis
      • Precipitated by physiologic stressor: sepsis, MI, trauma, surgery
      • Diagnosis
        • AM cortisol <3
        • ACTH stimulation peak cortisol <15
        • ACTH level
      • Management
        • Glucose management
        • Fluid resuscitation
        • Dexamethasone 10mg IV
        • Identify and treat precipitant

Cushing syndrome

  • Causes
    • Pituitary adenoma (Cushing disease)
    • Malignancy (ACTH-producing): SCLC, pancreatic, carcinoid
    • Adrenal neoplasm
  • Signs/Symptoms
    • Obesity, fat deposition in face, neck
    • Skin atrophy with striae
    • Proximal myopathy
    • Hypertension

Pheochromocytoma

  • Familial: MEN 2A/2B, NF, Von Hippel-Lindau
  • Signs/Symptoms
    • Refractory hypertension (paroxysmal)
    • Heat intolerance, sweating, weight loss
  • Diagnosis
    • 24h urine metanephrine, catecholamine
    • CT/MRI

Hypopituitarism

  • Adenoma
    • Symtoms/Signs
      • Headache
      • Vision changes (bitemporal hemianopsia)
      • Cavernous sinus involvement (CN III, IV, V1, V2, VI)
  • Ischemic necrosis
    • Sickle cell disease, vasculitis, cavernous sinus thrombosis, infection, TBI, post-partum (Sheehan)
  • Pituitary apoplexy
    • Acute loss of pituitary function from infection/hemorrhage, rarely tumor
    • Symptoms/Signs
      • Abrupt onset headache
      • Vision changes
      • Meningismus
      • ALOC

Thyroid Emergencies

Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms

Constitutional Weight loss, heat intolerance, perspiration
Cardiopulmonary Palpitations, chest pain, dyspnea
Neuropsychiatric Tremor, anxiety, double vision, muscle weakness
Neck Fullness, dysphagia, dysphonia
Musculoskeletal Extremity swelling
Reproductive Irregular menses, decreased libido, gynecomastia

Signs

Vital signs Tachycardia, widened pulse pressure, fever
Cardiovascular Hyperdynamic precordium, CHF, atrial fibrillation, systolic flow murmur
Ophthalmologic Widened palpebral fissure, periorbital edema, proptosis, diplopia, restricted superior gaze
Neurologic Tremor, hyperreflexia, proximal muscle weakness
Dermatologic Palmar erythema, hyperpigmented plaques or non-pitting edema of tibia
Neck Enlarged or nodular thyroid

Causes

  • Grave disease
    • Mechanism: thyroid-stimulating antibodies
    • Female > Male (10x)
    • Findings: ophthalmopathy (lid lag), infiltrative dermopathy (pretibial)
  • Toxic adenoma, toxic multinodular goiter
    • Mechanism: Excess thyroid hormone production
  • Thyroiditis
    • Mechanism: inflammation results in increased thyroid hormone release, typically followed by depletion and TSH suppression resulting in hypothyroidism
    • Signs/symptoms: tachycardia, weight loss, irritability, sweating, anxiety, heat intolerance
    • Subacute thyroiditis
      • Post-viral
      • Symptoms: hoarseness, dysphagia, painful thyroid
    • Hashimoto
      • Typically hypothyroidism
    • Drug-induced: Lithium, amiodarone
    • Trauma: surgical, direct

Thyroid Storm

  • Essentially an exaggeration of thyrotoxicosis featuring marked hyperthermia (104-106°F), tachycardia (HR > 140bpm), and altered mental status (agitation, delirium, coma).
  • Precipitants
    • Medical: Sepsis, MI, CVA, CHF, PE, visceral ischemia
    • Trauma: Surgery, blunt, penetrating
    • Endocrine: DKA, HHS, hypoglycemia
    • Drugs: Iodine, amiodarone, inhaled anesthetics
    • Pregnancy: post-partum, hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Scoring (Burch, Wartofsky)
  • Management
    • Supportive measures
      • Volume resuscitation (with MVI, Thiamine) and cooling
      • Benzodiazepines for agitation
    • Beta-blockade
      • Propranolol 60-80mg PO q4h
      • Propranolol 0.5-1.0mg IV, repeat q15min then 1-2mg q3h
      • Esmolol continuous infusion
    • MTZ/PTU 1-hour prior to iodine
      • Methimazole 20mg (except pregnancy)
      • Propylthiouracil 600mg (hepatotoxic)
    • Steroids: dexamethasone
    • Iodine
    • Endocrinology consultation

Hypothyroidism

Symptoms

Constitutional Weight gain, cold intolerance, fatigue
Cardiopulmonary Dyspnea, decreased exercise capacity
Neuropsychiatric Impaired concentration and attention
Musculoskeletal Extremity swelling
Gastrointestinal Constipation
Reproductive Irregular menses, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido
Integumentary Coarse hair, dry skin, alopecia, thin nails

Signs

Vital signs Bradycardia, hypothermia
Cardiovascular Prolonged QT, increased ventricular arrhythmia, accelerated CAD, diastolic heart failure, peripheral edema
Neurologic Lethargy, slowed speech, agitation, seizures, ataxia/dysmetria, mononeuropathy, delayed relaxation of reflexes
Musculoskeletal Proximal myopathy, pseudohypertrophy, polyarthralgia
Gastrointestinal Ileus

Causes

  • Hashimoto: auto-antiboids
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Radiation, radioactive iodine ablation

Myxedema Coma

  • Precipitants
    • Critical illness: sepsis (especially PNA), CVA, MI, CHF, trauma, burns
    • Endocrine: DKA, hypoglycemia
    • Drugs: amiodarone, lithium, phenytoin, rifampin, medication non-adherence
    • Environmental: cold exposure
  • Recognition
    • History: hypothyroidism, thyroidectomy scar and acute precipitating illness
    • Hypothermia: temp <95.9°F (or normal in presence of infection)
    • AMS: lethargy, confusion, coma, agitation, psychosis, seizures
    • Hypotension: refractory to volume resuscitation and pressors
    • Bradypnea: with hypercapnia and hypoxia
    • Skin: non-pitting edema of face and hands
    • Hyponatremia
  • Management
    • Airway protection
    • Fluid resuscitation
    • Thyroid hormone replacement
      • Young, otherwise healthy patients: T3 10ug IV q4h
      • Elderly, cardiac compromise: 300ug IV x1
      • Steroids: dexamethasone 1h prior to thyroid hormone
    • Treat precipitating illness

Interpretation of Thyroid Function Tests

Condition TSH T4
None Normal Normal
Hyperthyroidism Low High
Hypothyroidism High Low
Subclinical hyperthyroidism Low Normal
Subclinical hypothyroidism High Normal
Sick euthyroid Low Low

Endocrine Emergencies

HPI

30 year-old female with a history of autoimmune polyglandular syndrome (adrenal, thyroid and endocrine pancreatic insufficiency), polysubstance use, brought to the emergency department by ambulance with reported chief complaint of fever. On presentation, the patient reported fever for one day, associated with cough. She was lethargic and confused, answering yes/no questions but unable to provide detailed history. She states that she has been taking her home medications as prescribed, which include hydrocortisone, fludrocortisone, synthroid and insulin. No collateral information was immediately available.

Additional history was obtained from chart review upon discharge. The patient was hospitalized two weeks prior with pneumonia and discharged after two days. For 2-3 days prior to presentation, she reported the following symptoms to family members: nausea/vomiting, cough, decreased oral intake, fevers, and palpitations – she did not take her home medications during this time.

Physical Exam

VS: T 38.6 HR 112 RR 18 BP 149/82 O2 90% RA
Gen: Alert, fatigued, slow responses.
HEENT: No meningeal irritation, dry mucous membranes.
Pulmonary: Tachypnea, inspiratory wheezing and faint crackles at left and right inferior lung fields, appreciated anteriorly as well.
Neuro: Alert, oriented to self, situation, not month/year. PERRL, EOMI, facial muscles symmetric, tongue protrudes midline without fasciculation. Peripheral sensation grossly intact to light touch and moves all extremities on command.

Labs

  • VBG: alkalemia, primary respiratory
  • CBC: no leukocytosis, normal differential, normocytic anemia
  • BMP: 131, 2.5 , 94, 28, 11, 1.6, 115
  • Mg: 1.3
  • Lactate: 1.0
  • TSH: 17 , T4: 1.03
  • Troponin: 0.129

ECG

ECG 1
ECG 2

Imaging

  • CXR: Negative acute.
  • CT Head: Negative acute.
  • CT Cardiac: NICM, EF 35%.
IM-0001-0026
IM-0001-0026
IM-0001-0030
IM-0001-0030
IM-0001-0034
IM-0001-0034
IM-0001-0038
IM-0001-0038
IM-0001-0042
IM-0001-0042
IM-0001-0046
IM-0001-0046
IM-0001-0050
IM-0001-0050
IM-0001-0054
IM-0001-0054
IM-0001-0058
IM-0001-0058
IM-0001-0062
IM-0001-0062
IM-0001-0066
IM-0001-0066
IM-0001-0070
IM-0001-0070

CT Chest non-contrast

  • Diffuse patchy GGO (pulmonary edema, atypical pneumonia, alveolar hemorrhage, others).
  • Multiple bilateral pulmonary nodules.
  • Possible pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Hospital Course

The patient’s evaluation in the emergency department was concerning for severe sepsis secondary to suspected pulmonary source (given association of fever with cough, hypoxia and abnormal chest imaging findings). The patient had persistent alteration in mental status concerning for CNS infection. While preparing for lumbar puncture, cardiac monitoring revealed sustained polymorphic ventricular tachycardia without appreciable pulse. CPR was initiated, amiodarone 150mg IV push administered and at first pulse check a perfusing sinus rhythm was noted with immediate recovery of prior baseline mental status. Amiodarone load was continued and additional potassium sulfate (PO and IV) was administered. Review of telemetry monitoring revealed preceding 30-45 minutes of non-sustained ventricular tachycardia. The patient had two more episodes of sustained ventricular tachycardia requiring defibrillation. The patient was admitted to the medical intensive care unit for continued management.

#Sustained Ventricular Tachycardia
Initially attributed to critical hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia. However, after appropriate repletion serial ECG’s continued to demonstrate prolonged QT interval (possibly acquired secondary to medications, later review revealed multiple promotility agents for treatment of gastroparesis which could contribute to QT-prolongation including erythromycin and metoclopramide, also associated with endocrinopathies). Early echocardiography demonstrated global hypokinesis with estimated EF 30-35%. This was initially attributed to severe sepsis, as well as recurrent defibrillation. However, cardiac CT after resolution of acute illness showed persistent depressed ejection fraction, no evidence of coronary atherosclerosis. The presence of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy (may be attributable to chronic endocrine dysfunction or prior history of methamphetamine abuse) associated with malignant dysrhythmias warranted ICD placement for secondary prevention which the patient was scheduled to receive.

#Severe Sepsis
Attributed to pulmonary source given CT findings, healthcare associated and covered broadly. Mental status gradually improved and returned to baseline. CT head was negative, lumbar puncture deferred.

#Hypokalemia
Unclear etiology. Adrenal insufficiency commonly associated with hyperkalemia and no history of surreptitious fludrocortisone use. Possibly secondary to GI losses. Improved with repletion.

#Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome
Started on stress-dose steroids in emergency department. Transiently developed DKA which was reversed appropriately and hydrocortisone was tapered to home regimen. Home levothyroxine was resumed.

Endocrine Emergencies: Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms

Constitutional Weight loss, heat intolerance, perspiration
Cardiopulmonary Palpitations, chest pain, dyspnea
Neuropsychiatric Tremor, anxiety, double vision, muscle weakness
Neck Fullness, dysphagia, dysphonia
Musculoskeletal Extremity swelling
Reproductive Irregular menses, decreased libido, gynecomastia

Signs

Vital signs Tachycardia, widened pulse pressure, fever
Cardiovascular Hyperdynamic precordium, CHF, atrial fibrillation, systolic flow murmur
Ophthalmologic Widened palpebral fissure, periorbital edema, proptosis, diplopia, restricted superior gaze
Neurologic Tremor, hyperreflexia, proximal muscle weakness
Dermatologic Palmar erythema, hyperpigmented plaques or non-pitting edema of tibia
Neck Enlarged or nodular thyroid

Thyroid Storm

Essentially an exaggeration of thyrotoxicosis featuring marked hyperthermia (104-106°F), tachycardia (HR > 140bpm), and altered mental status (agitation, delirium, coma).

Precipitants
Medical: Sepsis, MI, CVA, CHF, PE, visceral ischemia
Trauma: Surgery, blunt, penetrating
Endocrine: DKA, HHS, hypoglycemia
Drugs: Iodine, amiodarone, inhaled anesthetics
Pregnancy: post-partum, hyperemesis gravidarum

Scoring (Burch, Wartofsky)

Fever
99-100 5
100-101 10
101-102 15
102-103 20
103-104 25
>104 30
Tachycardia
90-110 5
110-120 10
120-130 15
130-140 20
>140 25
Mental Status
Normal 0
Mild agitation 10
Extreme lethargy 20
Coma, seizure 30
CHF
Absent 0
Mild (edema) 5
Moderate (rales, atrial fibrillation) 10
Pulmonary edema 15
GI
None 0
Nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain 10
Jaundice 20
Precipitating Event
None 0
Present 10
  • >45: thyroid storm
  • 25-44: impending thyroid storm
  • <25: unlikely thyroid storm

Management

Supportive measures
Volume resuscitation and cooling
Benzodiazepines for agitation
Beta-blockade
Propranolol 60-80mg PO q4h
Propranolol 0.5-1.0mg IV, repeat q15min then 1-2mg q3h
Esmolol continuous infusion
Endocrinology consultation
PTU, SSKI

Endocrine Emergencies: Hypothyroidism

Symptoms

Constitutional Weight gain, cold intolerance, fatigue
Cardiopulmonary Dyspnea, decreased exercise capacity
Neuropsychiatric Impaired concentration and attention
Musculoskeletal Extremity swelling
Gastrointestinal Constipation
Reproductive Irregular menses, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido
Integumentary Coarse hair, dry skin, alopecia, thin nails

Signs

Vital signs Bradycardia, hypothermia
Cardiovascular Prolonged QT, increased ventricular arrhythmia, accelerated CAD, diastolic heart failure, peripheral edema
Neurologic Lethargy, slowed speech, agitation, seizures, ataxia/dysmetria, mononeuropathy, delayed relaxation of reflexes
Musculoskeletal Proximal myopathy, pseudohypertrophy, polyarthralgia
Gastrointestinal Ileus

Myxedema Coma

Precipitants
Critical illness: sepsis (especially PNA), CVA, MI, CHF, trauma, burns
Endocrine: DKA, hypoglycemia
Drugs: amiodarone, lithium, phenytoin, rifampin, medication non-adherence
Environmental: cold exposure
Recognition
History: hypothyroidism, thyroidectomy scar and acute precipitating illness
Hypothermia: temp <95.9°F (or normal in presence of infection)
AMS: lethargy, confusion, coma, agitation, psychosis, seizures
Hypotension: refractory to volume resuscitation and pressors
Bradypnea: with hypercapnia and hypoxia
Hyponatremia

Management

  • Airway protection
  • Fluid resuscitation
  • Thyroid hormone replacement
    • Young, otherwise healthy patients: T3 10ug IV q4h
    • Elderly, cardiac compromise: 300ug IV x1
  • Hydrocortisone: 50-100mg IV q6-8h
  • Treat precipitating illness

Interpretation of Thyroid Function Tests

Condition TSH T4
None Normal Normal
Hyperthyroidism Low High
Hypothyroidism High Low
Subclinical hyperthyroidism Low Normal
Subclinical hypothyroidism High Normal
Sick euthyroid Low Low

Endocrine Emergencies: Adrenal Insufficiency

Either primary due to adrenal gland failure (often secondary to autoimmune destruction), or secondary most often due to exogenous glucocorticoid administration (usually requiring more than 30mg/day for > 3wks).

Symptoms

Constitutional Weakness, fatigue
Gastrointestinal Anorexia, nausea, cramping
Neuropsychiatric Depression, apathy
Reproductive Amenorrhea, decreased libido
Musculoskeletal Myalgia, arthralgia

Signs

General Hyponatremia, orthostatic hypotension, low-grade fever
Primary Hyperpigmentation, hyperkalemia, hyperchloremia, acidosis
Secondary Hypoglycemia

Management

Maintenance
Hydrocortisone 20mg qAM, 10mg qPM
Fludrocortisone 50-100ug daily
Minor illness (x2)
Hydrocortisone 40mg qAM, 20mg qPM
Fludrocortisone 50-200ug daily
Adrenal Crisis
Dexamethasone 4mg IV or hydrocortisone 100mg IV
2-3L 0.9% NaCl
Treat precipitating illness

Life-Threatening Electrolyte Abnormalities3

Critical Hypokalemia

Causes
GI losses (diarrhea, laxative use)
Renal losses (hyperaldosteronism, diuretics)
Cellular shifts (alkalosis)
ECG changes
U-waves 4
T-wave flattening
Ventricular arrhythmias (exacerbated with digoxin use)
Treatment
Maximum rate 10-20mEq/h with ECG monitoring
If malignant ventricular arrhythmias or arrest imminent, consider more rapid administration (10mEq over 5 minutes)

 

Critical Hypomagnesemia

Causes
GI, renal losses
Thyroid dysfunction
Treatment
1-2g IV over 5-60 minutes or IVP for Torsades

Conclusion

Unfortunately, this patient’s comprehensive clinical picture does not fit neatly into a particular category of endocrinologic pathology. Her underlying autoimmune disorder manifests both primary adrenal and thyroid dysfunction. Components of the patient’s presentation are suggestive of critical hypothyroidism (myxedema coma) including alteration in mental status, QT-prolongation and hyponatremia as well as possible precipitant of pneumonia. However, despite elevated TSH, the patient’s free T4 level was within normal range. Also absent was hypoventilation (the patient was appropriately tachypneic for degree of hypoxia and with resultant respiratory alkalosis) or bradycardia/hypothermia.
Similarly, adrenal insufficiency is typically associated with hyperkalemia, whereas our patient had critical hypokalemia that was determined to be at least a contributory factor to her ventricular dysrhythmia. The etiology of the patient’s hypokalemia remained unexplained.

References:

  1. Sharma, A., & Levy, D. (2009). Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders. In Rosen’s Emergency Medicine (8th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 1676-1692). Elsevier Health Sciences.
  2. Savage MW, Mah PM, Weetman AP, Newell-Price J. Endocrine emergencies. Postgrad Med J. 2004;80(947):506–515. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2003.013474.
  3. ECC Committee, Subcommittees and Task Forces of the American Heart Association. 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation. 2005;112(24 Suppl):IV1–203. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.105.166550.
  4. Levis JT. ECG diagnosis: hypokalemia. Perm J. 2012;16(2):57.

Hyperglycemic Crises

CC:

Blurred vision, numbness

HPI:

56 year-old male with a history of DM, questionable HTN presenting with blurred vision, numbness of fingertips/toes for 2wks. Associated symptoms include dry mouth, polydipsia/polyuria. He states that these symptoms coincide with elevated measurements of blood glucose at home (>500). He ran out of his diabetes medication (metformin) 8mo ago but states his BG was typically between 100-200 with diet/exercise until 2wks ago. He reports recent dietary indiscretions on a trip to Las Vegas.

He denies fevers/chills, CP/SOB, cough, abdominal pain, N/V, or dysuria.

PMH:

  • DM II
  • HTN

PSH:

None

FH:

Several maternal family members with DM.

SHx:

  • No tobacco/drug use
  • 5-6 alcoholic drinks/wk

Meds:

  • Metformin 500mg p.o. b.i.d.

Allergies:

NKDA

Physical Exam:

VS: T 37.8 HR 60 RR 14 BP 165/90 O2 99% RA
Gen: Well-appearing, no acute distress, obese
HEENT: PERRL, EOMI, optic discs sharp b/l, no abnormalities visualized
CV: RRR, normal S1/S2, no M/R/G, no additional heart sounds
Lungs: CTAB, no wheezes/crackles
Abd: +BS, soft, NT/ND, no rebound/guarding
Ext: Warm, well-perfused, 2+ pulses, no clubbing/cyanosis/edema
Neuro: AAOx3, CN II-XII intact

Labs/Studies:

  • BMP: 135/3.8/102/24/18/1.1/378
  • CBC: 7.4/14.1/42.0/403
  • UA: + glucose, – ketones

Assessment/Plan:

56M, hx DM with poor medication adherence presenting with vision changes and stocking/glove paresthesias for 2wks after reported dietary indiscretion found to be hyperglycemic. DKA/HHS unlikely given stable vital signs, normal metabolic panel with exception of isolated hyperglycemia (slight hyponatremia likely related to osmotic effect of elevated serum glucose). Also, no evidence of concerning precipitates for hyperglycemic crisis (no CP/SOB, no F/C, no cough, no abdominal pain, no change in mental status). Patient was discharged home with education on importance of medication adherence, refill of metformin, and follow-up with primary care physician for further management of DM and possible hypertension.

Evaluation of hyperglycemic crises in patients with diabetes:1,2

Evaluation of Hyperglycemic Crises in Patients with Diabetes

Key signs/symptoms of HHS/DKA:

  • Both: Polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss, hypovolemia (dry MM, skin turgor, tachycardia, hypotension)
  • DKA: Short course (<24h), N/V, diffuse abdominal pain, Kussmaul respirations
  • HHS: Longer course (days/weeks), altered mental status (lethargy, coma, seizure)

Admission Laboratory Data of Patients with HHS vs. DKA:1

DKA HHS
Glucose (mg/dl) 616 930
pH 7.12 7.30
3-β-hydroxybutyrate (mmol/l) 9.1 1.0
Serum osmolality 323 380
Delta gap (AG-12) 17 11
Na (mEq/l) 134 149
K (mEq/l) 4.5 3.9
Bicarbonate (mEq/l) 9 18

References:

  1. Kitabchi, A. E., Umpierrez, G. E., Miles, J. M., & Fisher, J. N. (2009). Hyperglycemic crises in adult patients with diabetes. Diabetes care, 32(7), 1335–1343. doi:10.2337/dc09-9032
  2. De Beer, K., Michael, S., Thacker, M., Wynne, E., Pattni, C., Gomm, M., Ball, C., et al. (2008). Diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycaemic hyperosmolar syndrome – clinical guidelines. Nursing in critical care, 13(1), 5–11. doi:10.1111/j.1478-5153.2007.00259.x
  3. Stoner, G. D. (2005). Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state. American family physician, 71(9), 1723–1730.

Delirium

ID:

A 70 year-old female with a PMH of HTN, DM, hyperlipidemia and stage I breast cancer s/p lumpectomy with sentinel LN biopsy several years ago presented for elective surgery complicated by post-operative bleeding. She is now 4 days post-op and was found to be confused, somnolent and occasionally agitated.

HPI:

The patient could not be interviewed.

PE:

  • VS: Stable and within normal limits
  • General: unremarkable except for crackles in bilateral lung bases
  • MSE: only arouses to sternal rub and becomes agitated, moving all four extremities spontaneously and symmetrically.
  • Reflexes: corneal and gag reflexes present, suppresses eye movements with head turn, deep tendon reflexes 3+ throughout UE/LE bilaterally.

Assessment:

70 year-old woman with a history of HTN, DM, hyperlipidemia and breast cancer presents with worsening confusion, somnolence and occasional agitation four days after surgery. The combination of significantly altered consciousness and absence of focal neurological findings, all in the setting of a complicated surgical course suggest delirium.

Differential Diagnosis of Altered Mental Status:

Levels of consciousness

There are different levels of consciousness, they are named in the diagram below but are better described by the characteristics observed.

Initial assessment

Differential Diagnosis for Altered Mental Status

References:

  1. Inouye, S. K. (2006). Delirium in Older Persons. The New England journal of medicine, 354(11), 1157–1165. doi:10.1056/NEJMra052321
  2. Blueprints neurology. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott William & Wilkins, 2009.
  3. Tindall SC. Level of Consciousness. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 57. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK380/