Lower Extremity Edema

HPI:

51 year-old male with a history of HTN, DM and chronic alcohol abuse presenting with lower extremity swelling. He notes one month of progressive, bilateral lower extremity swelling, in the past two weeks associated with increasing pain and redness and is now no longer able to ambulate due to pain. He denies fevers/chills, chest pain or shortness of breath. He also denies orthopnea and paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. He states that he has not had these symptoms prior to one month ago. On review of systems he denies nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel or urinary habits. He has a history of GI bleeding (unknown treatment) but denies hematemesis, hematochezia or melena. He has previously experienced alcohol withdrawal, which manifested as tremors, but no hallucinations or seizures.

PMH:

  • HTN
  • DM
  • Chronic EtOH abuse

PSH:

None

FH:

Unknown

SHx:

  • Drinks 1-2 pints of alcohol daily, last drink this morning.
  • Denies current tobacco or drug abuse, no prior IVDA.

Meds:

None

Allergies:

NKDA

Physical Exam:

VS: T 37.6 HR 86 RR 16 BP 128/84 O2 99% RA
Gen: Adult, non-obese male, lying in bed. Tremors noted in upper extremities.
HEENT: PERRL, EOMI, no scleral icterus. Mucous membranes moist.
CV: RRR, normal S1/S2, no additional heart sounds, JVP 3cm above sternal angle at 30°.
Lungs: CTAB, no crackles.
Abd: Soft, non-distended, with normoactive bowel sounds. Liver edge palpated 1cm below costal margin at mid-clavicular line, non-tender. No rebound/guarding.
Ext: Warm, well-perfused with 2+ distal pulses (PT, DP). 3+ pitting edema symmetric in bilateral lower extremities to knee. Erythema and warmth bilaterally extending from ankles to mid-shin. Mild tenderness to palpation. No pain with passive dorsiflexion. 3x3cm shallow ulceration below medial malleolus on right lower extremity without underlying fluctuance or expression of purulent material. No venous varicosities noted. Decreased sensation to light touch below knee bilaterally.
Rectal: Normal rectal tone, brown stool, guaiac negative.
Neuro: Alert and oriented, CN II-XII intact, gait intact, normal FTN/RAM.

Labs/Studies:

  • CBC: 7.4/13.1/39/180
  • Creatinine: 0.84
  • Albumin: 4.3
  • BNP: 28

Imaging:

Venous Lower Extremity Ultrasound

  1. No DVT.
  2. Pulsatile flow in bilateral EIV (external iliac veins) suggestive of elevated right heart pressure.

Assessment/Plan:

51M with HTN, DM, EtOH abuse presenting with lower extremity edema. Chronic bilateral lower extremity edema likely secondary to chronic venous insufficiency perhaps related to OSA given ultrasound findings of pulsatile flow in EIV’s. Doubt systemic cause: no evidence of heart failure on exam and normal BNP, no stigmata of cirrhosis and normal albumin, normal creatinine. Also, no evidence of DVT on ultrasound though bilateral DVT unlikely. Bilateral cellulitis also unlikely as the patient is afebrile without leukocytosis, however the patient was started on antibiotics including ceftriaxone and TMP/SMX given erythema, warmth and tenderness to palpation. The patient received benzodiazepines which eased withdrawal symptoms and he was admitted for continued treatment.

Mechanisms of Lower Extremity Edema: 1

Mechanisms of Lower Extremity Edema

Differential Diagnosis of Lower Extremity Edema: 1,2

Differential Diagnosis of Lower Extremity Edema

Evaluation:

History 1,2

  • Duration: acute (<72h) vs. chronic
  • Pain: DVT, CRPS, less severe in venous insufficiency
  • Systemic Disease
    • Cardiac: orthopnea, PND
    • Renal: proteinuria
    • Hepatic: jaundice, ascites
  • Malignancy: lymphedema
  • Improvement with elevation/recumbency: venous insufficiency
  • OSA: snoring, daytime somnolence
  • Medications: B-blocker, CCB, hormones, NSAID’s

Physical Exam 1,2

  • Distribution: unilateral, bilateral, generalized
  • Quality: pitting, non-pitting
  • TTP: DVT, cellulitis
  • Varicose veins: venous insufficiency
  • Kaposi-Stemmer: inability to pinch dorsum of foot at base of 2nd toe (lymphedema)
  • Systemic Disease
    • Cardiac: JVD, crackles
    • Hepatic: ascites, scleral icterus, spider angiomas
  • Brawny, medial maleolar involvement: venous insufficiency

Key Features Distinguishing Cellulitis: 3

  • Typically unilateral and acute
  • Often with systemic symptoms (fever, leukocytosis)
  • Risk Factors: immunosuppression, previous episodes, DM, PVD

References:

  1. Trayes, K. P., Studdiford, J. S., Pickle, S., & Tully, A. S. (2013). Edema: diagnosis and management. American family physician, 88(2), 102–110.
  2. Ely, J. W., Osheroff, J. A., Chambliss, M. L., & Ebell, M. H. (2006). Approach to leg edema of unclear etiology. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM, 19(2), 148–160.
  3. Keller, E. C., Tomecki, K. J., & Alraies, M. C. (2012). Distinguishing cellulitis from its mimics. Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine, 79(8), 547–552. doi:10.3949/ccjm.79a.11121
  4. WikEM: Pedal edema

Quick Case: Pleuritic Chest Pain

Image from: Maeng, C. H., Chin, S. O., Yang, B. H., Kim, S.-Y., Youn, H.-J., Cho, K. S., Baek, S. K., et al. (2007). A case of organizing pneumonia associated with rituximab. Cancer research and treatment : official journal of Korean Cancer Association, 39(2), 88–91. doi:10.4143/crt.2007.39.2.88

30yo male presenting with forearm cellulitis, also complaining of right-sided sharp chest pain worse with deep inspiration and some movements of the ipsilateral shoulder. Found to have multiple pulmonary nodules (suggestive of metastasis) with the largest being a subpleural nodule in the superior/anterior portion of the RUL (roughly the location of the patient’s pain).

 

Differential Diagnosis of Pleuritic Chest Pain

Causes of Pleuritic CP

Location of Referred Pain

Referred Pain

 

Syncope

ID:

A 50 year-old male with a reported two-year history of infrequent spells, presenting with two spells in the past two days.

HPI:

The patient’s spells began two years ago, he recounts that he was watching television when he lost consciousness and a friend noted he started shaking; he does not recall the event, and awoke in the hospital. The next spell occurred one year later, though the patient is unable to recall much about this episode. The patient remained spell-free until yesterday when he was on a bus, lost consciousness and awoke in a hospital. He notes that he had bit his tongue and lost control of his bladder. He was discharged hours later with a prescription for an AED which he was unable to fill. This morning, the patient had another spell while in the bathroom. His roommate heard him fall, found him on the ground, and noted that his mouth was moving but did not see any other movements.

The patient’s episodes are all associated with loss of consciousness and are followed by 5-10 minutes of disorientation after which he recovers fully. The episodes are sometimes preceded by a feeling of “euphoria”, though this feeling sometimes occurs without subsequent LOC.

The patient denies any associated palpitations, dizziness/LH, chest pain or muscle pain.  He has not had any recent fevers/chills, dysuria, cough, headache, changes in vision, numbness/tingling, weakness, difficulty speaking or swallowing or weight loss. He also denies any history of head trauma.

Physical Examination:

  • VS: Stable and WNL
  • General: Well-appearing, pleasant, and in NAD.
  • HEENT: NC/AT. MMM. Small lesion on tongue.
  • Lungs: CTAB.
  • CV: RRR with occasional ectopic beats, no M/R/G.
  • Abdomen: S/NT/ND. Bowel sounds present.
  • Neurological exam: AAOx4, CN II-XII intact, motor/sensation/reflexes/coordination/gait WNL

Imaging/Studies:

  • EKG: Occasional PAC/PVC
  • CT Brain: Unremarkable except for mild age-related cerebral atrophy

Assessment & Plan:

50 year-old male with a history of HTN and a reported two-year history of infrequent spells presenting with two spells in the past two days. The description of the patient’s episodes could be consistent with seizures. Aspects supporting this notion include loss of consciousness and period of confusion following each episode. One of the recent episodes was also associated with tongue-biting and loss of bladder control. Additionally, some episodes are associated with a sensation of euphoria rising from the abdomen to the head which could be indicative of an aura. Characteristics that suggest other causes include the absence of noted convulsions and non-stereotyped nature of each episode which could be due to the patient’s poor recollection of these events and absence of reliable witnesses. In the case of true seizures, the possible etiologies in this patient include a mass, metabolic abnormalities, substance use, or concomitant infection exacerbating an existing propensity for seizure activity. Other, non-seizure causes warranting evaluation include cardiogenic syncope particularly given the evidence of ectopic beats on examination and electrocardiogram.

Differential Diagnosis of Syncope

First, is it syncope? History is very important for distinguishing syncope from other causes (seizure, dizziness, vertigo, presyncope). Ask about precipitating events, prodromal symptoms, post-ictal confusion. Common causes of syncope and their associated symptoms are detailed in the figure below.

References:

  1. Kapoor, W. N. (2000). Syncope. The New England journal of medicine, 343(25), 1856–1862. doi:10.1056/NEJM200012213432507