Hypotension

Brief H&P:

A 50 year-old male with a history of colonic mucinous adenocarcinoma on chemotherapy presented with a chief complaint of “vomiting”. He was unwilling to provide further history, repeating that he had vomited blood prior to presentation. His initial vital signs were notable for tachycardia. Physical examination showed some dried vomitus, brown in color, at the nares and lips; left upper quadrant abdominal tenderness to palpation; and guaiac-positive stool. Point-of-care hemoglobin was 3g/dL below the most recent measure two months prior. As his evaluation progressed, he developed hypotension and was transfused two units of uncrossmatched blood with adequate blood pressure response – he was started empirically on broad-spectrum antibiotics for an intra-abdominal source. Notable laboratory findings included a normal hemoglobin/hematocrit, acute kidney injury, and elevated anion gap metabolic acidosis presumably attributable to serum lactate of 10.7mmol/L. Computed tomography of the abdomen and pelvis demonstrated pneumoperitoneum with complex ascites concerning for bowel perforation. The patient deteriorated, was intubated, started on vasopressors and admitted to the surgical intensive care unit. The initial operative report noted extensive adhesions and perforated small bowel with feculent peritonitis. He has since undergone multiple further abdominal surgeries and remains critically ill.

Imaging

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CT Abdomen/Pelvis

Free air is seen diffusely in the non-dependent portions of the abdomen: in the anterior abdomen and pelvis, inferior to the diaphragm, and in the perisplenic region. There is complex free fluid in the abdomen.

Algorithm for the Evaluation of Hypotension1

This process for the evaluation of hypotension in the emergency department was developed by Dr. Ravi Morchi. In the case above, a systematic approach to the evaluation of hypotension using ultrasonography and appropriately detailed physical examination may have expedited the patient’s care. The expertly-designed algorithm traverses the cardiovascular system, halting at evaluable checkpoints that may contribute to hypotension.

  1. The process begins with the cardiac conduction system to identify malignant dysrhythmias (bradycardia, or non-sinus tachycardia >170bpm), which, in unstable patients are managed with electricity.
  2. The next step assesses intravascular volume with physical examination or bedside ultrasonography of the inferior vena cava. Decreased right atrial pressure (whether due to hypovolemia, hemorrhage, or a distributive process) is evidenced by a small and collapsible IVC. If hemorrhage is suspected, further ultrasonography with FAST and evaluation of the abdominal aorta may identify intra- or retroperitoneal bleeding.
  3. If a normal or elevated right atrial pressure is identified, evaluate for dissociation between the RAP and left ventricular end-diastolic volume. This is typically caused by a pre- or intra-pulmonary obstructive process such as tension pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, massive pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, or elevated intra-thoracic pressures secondary to air-trapping. Thoracic ultrasonography can identify pneumothorax, pericardial effusion, or signs of elevated right ventricular systolic pressures (RV:LV, septal flattening).
  4. Assuming adequate intra-vascular volume is arriving at the left ventricle, rapid echocardiography can be used to provide a gross estimate of cardiac contractility and point to a cardiogenic process. If there is no obvious pump failure, auscultation may reveal murmurs that would suggest systolic output is refluxing to lower-resistance routes (ex. mitral insufficiency, aortic insufficiency, or ventricular septal defect).
  5. Finally, if the heart rate is suitable, volume deficits are not grossly at fault, no obstructive process is suspected, and cardiac contractility is adequate and directed appropriately through the vascular tree, the cause may be distributive. Physical examination may reveal dilated capillary beds and low systemic vascular resistance.

Algorithm for the Evaluation of Hypotension

References

  1. Morchi R. Diagnosis Deconstructed: Solving Hypotension in 30 Seconds. Emergency Medicine News. 2015.

Rapid Pediatric Assessment

This post presents a tool for the rapid assessment of the cardiopulmonary status and cerebral/metabolic function of critically ill pediatric patients. The purpose is not to establish a diagnosis, rather to identify the particular physiological derangements to prioritize initial interventions. The tool was initially designed as a “triangle” – it has been adapted here (with permission) as a Venn diagram.1

Pediatric Assessment Diagram

Pediatric Assessment Diagram

Assessment of Appearance

  • Tone: Moves spontaneously, resists examination
  • Interactivity: Interacts with environment, reaches for items
  • Consolability: Comforted by caregiver
  • Gaze: Makes eye contact

Assessment of Work of Breathing

  • Airway Sounds: Stridor, grunting, wheezing
  • Position: Tripod
  • Retractions

Assessment of Circulation

  • Pallor
  • Mottling
  • Cyanosis

Management

Impression Interventions
Respiratory distress
  • Position of comfort
  • Oxygen, suction
  • Therapy as appropriate (albuterol, epinephrine, etc)
  • Labs/radiographs as indicated
Respiratory failure
  • Head/airway positioning
  • 100% oxygen
  • Ventilation support (BVM)
  • Advanced airway
Shock (compensated and decompensated)
  • Oxygen
  • Access
  • Fluid resuscitation
  • Specific therapy (antibiotics, surgery)
  • Labs/radiographs as indicated
CNS/Metabolic
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Rapid glucose
  • Labs/radiographs as indicated
Cardiopulmonary Failure
  • Head/airway positioning
  • 100% oxygen
  • Ventilation support (BVM)
  • Chest compressions as needed
  • Specific therapy (defibrillation, epinephrine, amiodarone)
  • Labs/radiographs as indicated

References:

  1. The pediatric assessment triangle: a novel approach for the rapid evaluation of children. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2010;26(4):312-315. doi:10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181d6db37.

Gastosin Ingestion

Jalapa, NicaraguaCC:

“Gastosin” ingestion

HPI:

29F BIB family after patient was found down at home, near opened bottle of Gastosin in presumed suicide attempt. On arrival to ED, patient was awake, but unresponsive, groaning and clutching stomach. GCS  was E3-V2-M5, HR 110, BP 60/palp, RR 24.

ED Course:

Upon arrival, placed two large-bore IV w/rapid infusion of 2L NS and given DA 2g IV x2. NG tube placed, initiated lavage of gastric contents with NS. Patient’s mental status continued to deteriorate, became unresponsive.

PMH/PSH:

Unknown

SHx:

History of alcohol abuse and depression per family.

PE:

  • VS: 110bpm, 60/palp, 24 R/min, no temp/O2sat available
  • General: Ill-appearing female, laying on bed in considerable distress, groaning and clutching stomach, diaphoretic
  • HEENT: NC/AT, PERRL (4-3mm), EOMI, MMM no lesions, no tongue lacerations, breath with foul odor, TM’s clear b/l.
  • CV: RRR, normal S1/S2, tachycardia, faint heart sounds, JVP elevated though patient supine
  • Lungs: CTAB, no crackles/wheezes
  • Abdomen: +BS, soft, non-distended, no guarding, no ecchymosis
  • GU: Normal external genitalia, loss of stool noted.
  • Neuro: Patient confused, initially responsive to sternal rub, moving all 4 extremities spontaneously/equally, EOMI without nystagmus, gag reflex present, DTR 2+ and symmetric throughout with toes downgoing.
  • Extremities: Cool, peripheral pulses 0 (radial, PT, DP), 1+ (femoral, brachial, carotid)1, capillary refill 3sec
  • Skin: No visible skin lesions

Assessment & Plan:

29F, unknown PMH, ċ ingestion of unknown amount of “Gastosin”. Patient presenting in likely cardiogenic shock given hypotension with reflex sympathetic activation (evidenced by peripheral vasoconstriction à cool extremities, diaphoresis) and no evidence of hemorrhage. Gastosin is a pesticide used in the storage of maize2, and is well-known locally as a common agent in self-poisonings. Chemically composed of aluminum phosphide, and liberates phosphine gas on exposure to moisture which is rapidly absorbed by inhalation, transdermally or gastrointestinally. Toxicity results from free radical damage and inhibition of enzymes of metabolism (particularly affecting cardiac myocytes). Clinical features include vomiting, resistant hypotension and metabolic acidosis.3

Patient’s symptoms and presentation are consistent with cardiogenic shock secondary to Gastosin ingestion. Management included fluid resuscitation and inotropic support with dopamine, as well as gastric lavage. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and patient remained hypotensive with worsening of mental status, and eventual death.

Differential Diagnosis for Shock:

A System for Shock

A System for the Management of Aluminum Phosphide Poisoning:4,5

Management of Aluminum Phosphide Poisoning

The Glasgow Coma Scale:

  Eye Opening Best Motor Response Best Verbal Response
1 None None None
2 Pain Extension Groans
3 Verbal Flexion Unintelligible
4 Open Withdraws Disoriented
5 Localizes Oriented
6 Obeys commands

References:

  1. Hill RD, Smith RB III. Examination of the Extremities: Pulses, Bruits, and Phlebitis. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 30. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK350/
  2. Udoh, J., Ikotun, T., & Cardwell, K. (n.d.). Storage systems for maize (zea mays l.) in nigeria from five agro-ecological zones. Proceedings of the 6th International Working Conference on Stored-product Protection, 2, 960-965.
  3. Bogle, R. G., Theron, P., Brooks, P., Dargan, P. I., & Redhead, J. (2006). Aluminium phosphide poisoning. Emergency medicine journal : EMJ, 23(1), e3. doi:10.1136/emj.2004.015941
  4. Gurjar, M., Baronia, A. K., Azim, A., & Sharma, K. (2011). Managing aluminum phosphide poisonings. Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock, 4(3), 378–384. doi:10.4103/0974-2700.83868
  5. Jones, A. L., & Volans, G. (1999). Management of self poisoning. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 319(7222), 1414–1417.