Hematologic Emergencies

Sickle Cell Crises

  • Triggers: infection, acidosis, dehydration, cold-exposure, hypoxia, pregnancy
  • Presentation: exclude alternative more serious pathology prior to ascribing pain to vaso-occlusive crisis

Effects by Organ System

System Symptom
CNS Focal or generalized neurological symptoms, stroke, seizure
Pulmonary Acute chest syndrome (fever, chest pain, cough, hypoxia, pulmonary infiltrates), pulmonary embolism
GI Abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting
Renal Papillary necrosis
GU Priapism, testicular/ovarian ischemia
Muskuloskeletal Bone pain (back, proximal extremities), exclude osteomyelitis, avascular necrosis
ID Infection, functional asplenia (streptococcus, haemophilus)
OB Preterm labor, placental abruptions, SAB
Ophthalmology Acute retinal ischemia, hyphema (with intra-ocular hypertension)
Hematology
  • Sequestration crisis: acute anemia, often post-viral
  • Hemolytic crisis: acute anemia, reticulocytosis, hyperbilirubinemia
  • Megaloblastic crisis: folate deficiency
  • Aplastic crisis: inadequate reticulocytosis

Evaluation

  • CBC with reticulocyte count
    •  Hemoglobin: suggests sequestration or hemolytic crisis
    • Reticulocyte index: suggests aplastic or megaloblastic crisis
  • LDH/haptoglobin: evaluate for hemolysis
  • UA: evaluate for infection/infarction
  • CXR: evaluate for acute chest syndrome

Management

  • Rehydration (hypotonic fluids)
  • Analgesia
  • Supplemental oxygen if hypoxic
  • Exchange transfusion for priapism, neurologic symptoms, aplastic/sequestration/hemolytic crises

Transfusion Reactions

  • Epidemiology: overall 0.25%, 0.09% severe
  • Management: stop transfusion

Management by Presumed Etiology

Reaction Mechanism Signs/symptoms Management
Acute, Severe
Acute hemolysis Incompatibility Fevers, HR, BP, vomiting, back pain IVF, vasopressors if needed, furosemide
Anaphylaxis IgA-mediated 1min: flushing laryngospasm, bronchospasm, BP Epinephrine, steroids, diphenhydramine, IVF
Sepsis Bacterial contamination (Y. entercolitica), increased risk in platelet transfusion Fevers, BP IVF, vasopressors if needed, broad-spectrum antibiotics
TRALI (transfusion-related acute lung injury) Non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema, increased risk in FFP transfusion Hypoxia, respiratory distress, XR bilateral infiltrates Supplemental oxygen, PPV/ETT
TACO (transfusion-associated circulatory overload) Hypervolemia in patients with history of CHF Hypoxia, respiratory distress, heart failure Supplemental oxygen, PPV/ETT, furosemide
Acute, Minor
Simple febrile reaction Cytokine-mediated Isolated fever Acetaminophen
Minor allergic reaction Response to transfused plasma proteins Urticaria, pruritus, flushing Diphenhydramine
Delayed
Delayed hemolysis Minor RBC antigens 5-10d, low-grade hemolysis  
GVHD Immunocompromised host Fever, rash, N/V, transaminitis, pancytopenia  
Massive Transfusion
Massive transfusion Large-volume, refrigerated products Coagulopathy, hypothermia, hypocalcemia, hyperkalemia, lactic acidosis

Bleeding Disorders

Overview

  • Disorders of primary hemostasis
    • General: present with mucocutaneous, post-operative bleeding
    • vWD
    • Platelet disorders
      • Medication-induced: NSAID, valproate, B-lactam, SSRI
      • Systemic disease: hepatic, renal failure
    • ITP: antibody-mediated platelet destruction
  • Disorders of secondary hemostasis
    • General: present with bleeding into soft-tissue, joints
    • Hemophilia A (VIII)
    • Hemophilia B (IX)
  • Disorders of both primary and secondary hemostasis
    • DIC
    • Liver disease
    • Severe vWD
  • Evaluation
    • PT: VII, vitamin K
    • PTT: VIII, IX, XI, XIII, vWD, heparin
    • Increased PT/PTT: XI, V, vitamin K, heparin, DIC
    • CBC: degree of anemia, platelet count, differential (hematopoetic disorders)
  • Management
    • Thrombocytopenia
      • Prophylactic transfusion for avoidance of spontaneous hemorrhage for platelet count <10,000
      • Transfusion for active bleeding at platelet count <50,000
      • Dosing
        • Adults: one RDP increases platelet count by 7-10,000
        • Pediatrics: 5-10ml/kg
      • ITP
        • Transfuse platelets for active bleeding
        • High-dose steroids (prednisone 1mg/kg)
        • IVIG (1g/kg/d)
      • Uremia
        • Hemodialysis
        • DDAVP (0.3ug/kg IV)
      • vWD
        • DDAVP (0.3ug/kg IV)
        • Severe: VWF (Humate-P) 40-80IU/kg
        • Tranexamic acid
      • Hemophilia A
        • Minor: 20IU/kg
        • Major: 50IU/kg
      • Hemophilia B
        • Minor: 40IU/kg
        • Major: 100IU/kg

DIC/TTP/HUS

  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
    • Etiology: severe systemic illness/injury
      • Trauma, burn, crush
      • Sepsis
      • Malignancy
      • Obstetric complication: abruption, amniotic fluid embolism
      • Hemolytic anemia
    • Exam: petechiae/purpura, hemorrhage (puncture site, GI, GU, pulmonary)
    • Labs:
      • PT/PTT
      • Fibrinogen
      • CBC: schistocytes, thrombocytopenia
      • FDP/D-Dimer
    • Management
      • Treat underlying illness
      • Transfuse (PRBC, FFP for INR > 2, cryoprecipitate for fibrinogen < 100)
      • Heparin if apparent embolic events
      • Consult hematology
  • TTP/HUS
    • Presentation
      • Thrombocytopenia
      • Altered mental status
      • Renal dysfunction
      • Fever
      • MAHA
    • TTP: more commonly associated with altered mental status
      • Etiology: drugs, pregnancy, infection (HIV)
      • Mechanism: ULvWF uncleaved by dysfunctional ADAMTS-13
    • HUS: more commonly associated with renal dysfunction
      • Mechanism: toxin from E. coli, Shigella
      • Timing: 1-2wks after diarrheal illness
    • Evaluation
      • CBC: anemia, schistocytes, thrombocytopenia
      • PT/PTT (normal)
      • BUN/Creatinine
      • LDH
    • Management
      • Platelets contraindicated except as stopgap measure in ICH (can worsen process)
      • Plasma exchange with FFP (replaces functional ADAMTS-13)
      • Steroids (prednisone 1mg/kg daily)
      • Hematology consultation

Complications of anti-thrombotic therapy

  • Agents
    • Anti-platelet
      • TXA: Aspirin
      • ADP: clopidogrel, ticagrelor, prasugrel
      • GPIIb/IIIa: abciximab, eptifibatide, tirofiban
    • Anti-coagulants
      • Anti-thrombin: heparin, LMWH (enoxaparin, dalteparin)
      • Vitamin K antagonist: warfarn (anti-II, VII, IX, X)
      • Direct thrombin inhibitor: bivalirudin, argatroban, dabigatran
      • Xa inhibitor: rivaroxaban, apixaban
    • Fibrinolytics
      • Alteplase, tenectaplase
  • Complications
    • HIT: platelet count decrease >50% at 5 days

Summary of Management

Agent Reversal
Aspirin, clopidogrel 5-10U platelets

DDAVP 0.3ug/kg

GPIIb/IIIa Abciximab: 5-10U platelets

Eptifibatide/tirofiban: none

Heparin Protamine 1mg/100mg heparin in last 2-3 hours
LMWH Enoxaparin: 1mg/1mg

Dalteparin: 1mg/100U

Warfarin See supratherapeutic INR algorithm
DTI Dabigatran: Praxbind, hemodialysis, consider Factor VIIa
Xa PCC
Fibrinolytics 10U cryoprecipitate, 2U FFP, consider platelets and aminocaproic acid (4-5g IV)

Oncologic Emergencies

Overview

  •  Complications
    • Airway obstruction
    • PNA
    • Pleural effusion
    • Pericardial effusion
    • VTE
    • SVC syndrome
      • Symptoms: dyspnea (airway edema), chest fullness, blurred vision, headache (increased ICP)
    • Massive hemoptysis
      • Management: ETT (large-bore for bronschoscopy), affected side down
  • Brain Metastases
    • Cancers: melanoma, lung, breast, colorectal
    • Management: dexamethasone 10mg IV load, elevated HOB, hypertonic saline or mannitol, prophylactic anti-eplipetics
  • Meningitis
    • Pathogens: Listeria (ampicillin), Cryptococcus (amphotericin)
    • Evaluation: CSF sampling with cytology (diagnose leptomeningeal metastases)

Metabolic Disturbances

  • Hypercalcemia
    • Cancers: MM, RCC, lymphoma, bone metastases (breast, lung, prostate)
    • Mechanism: metastatic destruction, PTH-RP, tumor calcitriol
    • Prognosis: 50% 30-day mortality
    • Symptoms
      • Chronic: anorexia, nausea/vomiting, constipation, fatigue, memory loss
      • Acute: CNS (lethargy, somnolence)
    • Findings
      • Calcium: >13.0mg/dL
      • ECG: QT shortening
    • Treatment
      • Mild: IVF
      • Severe: IVF, loop diuretics, bisophosphanate (pamidronate 90mg IV infused over 4 hours), consider calcitriol, consider hemodialysis if cannot tolerate fluids or unlikely to respond to diuretics
  • Hyponatremia
    • Cancers: lung (small-cell), pancreatic, ovarian, lymphoma, thymoma, CNS
    • Mechanism: SIADH
    • Symptoms: muscle twitching, seizure, coma
    • Management: fluid restriction, if seizing administer 3% hypertonic saline at 100cc/hr until resolution
  • Hypernatremia
    • Mechanism: decreased intake, increased GI losses from chemotherapy
    • Management: cautious fluid resuscitation
  • Tumor Lysis Syndrome (TLS)
    • Cancers: hematologic, rapid-growth solid tumors
    • Mechanism: release of intracellular contents (uric acid, K, PO4, Ca)
    • Timing: 1-4 days after therapy (chemo, radiation)
    • Diagnosis
      • Uric acid >8mg/dL
      • Potassium >6mEq/L
      • Calcium <7mg/dL
      • PO4 >4.5mg/dL
      • Acute kidney injury
    • Management
      • IVF, allopurinol, rasburicase, urinary alkalinization
      • Consider hemodialysis if volume overloaded

Localized Complications

  • Musculoskeletal Complications
    • Spinal cord compression
      • Cancers: prostate, breast, lung, RCC, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, MM (5-10% of all cancer patients)
      • Sites: thoracic (60%), lumbosacral (30%), cervical (10%)
      • Symptoms: pain (worse lying flat, cough/sneeze, heavy lifting)
      • Evaluation: MRI (se 93%, sp 97%)
      • Management: dexamethasone 10mg IV load, 4mg q6h, neurosurgical consultation, radiation oncology consultation
    • Pathologic fracture
      • Features: sudden onset, low-force mechanism
  • Therapy Complications
    • Neutropenic fever
      • Definition: ANC <500 or ANC <1000 with expected nadir <500 (nadir typically occurs 5-10d after chemotherapy) with Tmax >38.3°C or >38.0°C for >1h
      • Examination: subtle signs of infection, thorough examination is critical (skin, catheter, perineum)
      • Treatment: carbapenem monotherapy, vancomycin if indwelling catheter, oncology consultation for colony stimulating factors
    • Chemotherapy-induced vomiting
      • Management: ondansetron with dexamethasone, consider NK-1 antagonist (aprepitant)

Hematologic Malignancies

  • Acute leukemia
    • Signs/Symptoms: leukopenia (infection), anemia (weakness/fatigue), thrombocytopenia (bleeding)
    • Diagnosis: >5% blasts
  • Thrombocytopenia
    • Management
      • No bleeding, goal >10,000
      • Fever, coagulopathy, hyperleukoctosis, goal >20,000
      • One unit of platelets increases count by 5,000
  • Hyperleukocytosis
    • Definition: WBC > 50-100k
    • Complications: microvascular congestion (pulmonary, cerebral, coronary)
    • Symptoms
      • CNS: confusion, somnolence, coma
      • Pulmonary: dyspnea, respiratory alkalosis
    • Management: cytoreduction (induction chemotherapy, increased risk TLS)
  • Hyperviscosity
    • Cancer: macroglobulinemia, MM
    • Symptoms: epistaxis, purpura, GIB, neuro deficits
    • Diagnosis: serum viscosity > 1.4-1.8
    • Management: emergent plasmapheresis
  • Polycythemia
    • Diagnosis: Hb >17
    • Differential: dehydration, hypoxia, smoking, altitude
    • Symptoms: HA, vertigo, angina, claudication, pruritus (after showering)
    • Complications: thrombosis (stroke), bleeding
    • Management: emergent phlebotomy (500cc if otherwise healthy)
  • Thrombocytosis
    • Diagnosis: platelet >1,000,000
    • Symptoms: vasomotor (HA, lightheadedness, syncope, chest pain, paresthesias)
    • Management: low-dose aspirin

Anemia

HPI

70M with a history of dementia presenting with 3 days of fatigue. The patient was unable to provide detailed history, however family members reported worsening fatigue with the patient requiring assistance with ambulation for several days. The patient was referred from an outside clinic after point-of-care hemoglobin of 6.7. No reported history of anemia, and no history suggestive of obvious external bleeding.

Vital signs stable, tachycardia and tachypnea noted with minimal exertion but saturating well on ambient air and in no acute distress. Examination notable for conjunctival pallor without scleral icterus, systolic flow murmur, brown stool guaiac negative.

CBC with hemoglobin of 7.5 , MCV 80.3 , RDW 22.4 , no leukocytosis and normal platelets. Also noted was an alkaline phosphatase of 828 , normal total and direct bilirubin, and undetectable serum troponin. Chest x-ray showed a possible pleural-based mass.

The patient was transfused two units of PRBC’s and admitted for further evaluation. CT chest/abdomen/pelvis revealed sternal and rib-based pleural soft-tissue mass, prostate mass, pelvic and retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy as well as extensive bony metastatic disease consistent with primary prostate cancer with diffused metastasis. Serum PSA was 2,087 . Iron studies suggested anemia of chronic disease. Reticulocytes were not obtained but may have suggested inadequate production index given extensive bony metastases and possible associated myelosuppression. The patient was symptomatically improved after transfusion and discharged with outpatient follow-up for discussions regarding possible biopsy and treatment.

Images

Chest x-ray with pleural-based mass

Areas of pleural thickening. Possible pleural based mass in left mid lung.

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CT Chest: Lung Window

  • Rib-based pleural soft tissue masses.
  • Large 5.6 x 4.4cm anterior sternal soft-tissue mass.
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CT Body: Bone Window

  • Extensive bony metastatic disease.
  • Prostate mass, large pelvic and retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy.
  • Consistent with primary prostate cancer with diffuse metastasis.

Algorithm for the Evaluation of Anemia 1,2

Algorithm for the Evaluation of Anemia

References:

  1. Zaiden R, Rana F. Evaluation of Anemia. BMJ Best Practice. Oct 2014. http://us.bestpractice.bmj.com/best-practice/monograph/93/overview.html. Last accessed 15 May 2015.
  2. Janz, T. G., Johnson, R. L., & Rubenstein, S. D. (2013). Anemia in the emergency department: evaluation and treatment. Emergency medicine practice, 15(11), 1–15– quiz 15–6.
  3. WiKEM: Anemia

Lymphadenopathy Applied – Lymphoma

HPI:

27 year-old female with no medical history presenting with neck swelling. She describes one month of progressive enlargement of a left-sided neck mass, and in the past two weeks has noted a new right-sided neck mass. This has been associated with worsening dysphagia to solids, describing a sensation of food lodging in the mid-chest and requiring liquids for passage – she attributes her recent 10lb weight loss to this. She also reports a non-productive cough for the past two weeks and generalized fatigue. She otherwise denies fevers, night sweats, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, or changes in bowel/urinary habits. She has no known sick contacts or TB exposure risk factors. She has no medical history, no prior surgeries, does not take any medications and denies tobacco, alcohol or drug use.

Physical Exam:

VS: T 38.4 HR 98 RR 14 BP 108/68 O2 99% RA
Gen: Well-appearing young female, in no acute distress.
HEENT: PERRL, EOMI, MMM without lesions. There is a 2x3cm firm, non-tender, mobile left supraclavicular lymph node, as well as two 1x1cm firm, non-tender lymph nodes in the left and right anterior cervical chains.
CV: RRR, normal S1/S2, no murmurs. No JVD.
Lungs: Clear to auscultation bilaterally. There is a transition to bronchial breath sounds along the trachea inferior to the sternal angle with normal tracheal sounds superiorly.
Abd: Soft, non-tender without organomegaly.
Ext: Warm and well-perfused with normal peripheral pulses. No axillary or inguinal lymphadenopathy.
Neuro: Alert and oriented, responding appropriately to questions. PERRL, EOMI, facial sensation symmetric, facial muscles symmetric, hearing grossly normal, palate rises symmetrically, tongue movements normal without fasciculation, SCM/trapezius normal. Normal FTN, RAM. Gait intact. Peripheral sensation and motor grossly normal.

Imaging:

CT Chest - Axial

CT Chest - Axial

Anterior mediastinal mass with a wide differential - likely represents lymphoma or germ cell tumor. Less likely thymic or thyroid origin.

CT Chest - Sagittal

CT Chest - Sagittal

Anterior mediastinal mass with a wide differential - likely represents lymphoma or germ cell tumor. Less likely thymic or thyroid origin.

Assessment/Plan:

27F with no PMH presenting with progressive localized lymphadenopathy. Resultant dysphagia, cervical and supraclavicular distribution as well as abnormal tracheal sounds concerning for mediastinal involvement. The patient is currently stable without evidence of airway compromise. A CT of the chest was obtained to evaluate for thoracic malignancy, which showed a large anterior mediastinal mass concerning lymphoma or germ cell tumor. The location of the mass likely explains the patient’s dysphagia due to compression of the esophagus, as well as the abnormal pulmonary exam with compression potentially irritating the trachea and triggering her non-productive cough. The patient was admitted for further workup.

Lymphadenopathy Applied – Lymphoma

This case applies the differential diagnosis of lymphadenopathy. The most abnormal finding on examination was non-tender, left supraclavicular lymphadenopathy. The duration of symptoms and lack of tenderness is concerning for malignancy, and the left supraclavicular location suggests a thoracic or intra-abdominal source.

Lymphadenopathy Applied - Lymphoma