Neonatal Congenital Heart Disease

Brief H&P

An 8-day old male infant, ex-full term, born by normal spontaneous vaginal delivery and discharged home 2 days after birth without identified complications or maternal infections presents with parents to the emergency department due to decreased activity. Starting on day-of-life six, the family noted that feeding appeared to be taking longer and the mother felt her infant was breathing faster.

On presentation, the patient was pale, dusky, lethargic and with mottled skin. Temperature 36.3°C (rectal), HR 170, RR 60, BP 62/35, SpO2 70%. Physical examination demonstrated flat fontanelle, coarse breath sounds, regular rate and rhythm without additional heart sounds or murmurs, and hepatomegaly with liver edge 3cm below costal margin. Capillary refill was delayed at 5-6 seconds. Supplemental oxygen was applied without effect.

Algorithm for the Evaluation and Management of Suspected Congenital Heart Disease in Neonates

Algorithm for the Evaluation of Neonatal Congenital Heart Disease

Neonates with undiagnosed congenital heart disease may present to the emergency department with nonspecific symptoms, and may be considerably unstable requiring immediate life-saving interventions.

Key Historical Features

  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Feeding difficulty (small quantities, diaphoresis during feeding)
  • Poor weight gain
  • Chromosomal abnormalities, syndromes
  • Maternal risk factors: diabetes, teratogen exposure, substance use
  • Sibling of affected child

Key Examination Findings

  • Vital signs: tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension
  • Blood pressure differential (RUE vs. LE >8mmHg difference)
  • Pulse oximetry differential (RUE vs. LE >4% difference, <95%)
  • Cardiac examination: murmur, thrill, pulse differential, capillary refill, hepatomegaly

Workup

  • CXR: Evaluate for cardiomegaly, pulmonary vascular congestion
  • ECG: Evaluate for axis deviation (right axis deviation is normal for neonate)
  • ABG with co-oximetry

References

  1. Special thanks to Dr. Kelly Young, MD, MS, FAAP. Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine.
  2. Association AAOPAAH. Textbook of Neonatal Resuscitation. 2016.
  3. Lissauer T, Fanaroff AA, Miall L, Fanaroff J. Neonatology at a Glance. John Wiley & Sons; 2015.
  4. Steinhorn RH. Evaluation and Management of the Cyanotic Neonate. Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 2008;9(3):169-175. doi:10.1016/j.cpem.2008.06.006.
  5. MD MR. Chapter 7 – Cardiology. Twenty First Edition. Elsevier Inc.; 2018:156-202. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-39955-5.00007-7.
  6. Gomella T, Cunningham M. Neonatology 7/E. McGraw-Hill Prof Med/Tech; 2013.
  7. Yee L. Cardiac emergencies in the first year of life. Emergency Medicine Clinics of NA. 2007;25(4):981–1008–vi. doi:10.1016/j.emc.2007.08.001.
  8. Yates MC, Rao PS. Pediatric cardiac emergencies. Emerg Med. 2013. doi:10.4172/2165-7548.1000164.
  9. Silberbach M, Hannon D. Presentation of congenital heart disease in the neonate and young infant. Pediatr Rev. 2007;28(4):123-131.
  10. Mastropietro CW, Tourner SP, Sarnaik AP. Emergency presentation of congenital heart disease in children. Pediatric Emergency …. 2008.
  11. Brousseau T, Sharieff GQ. Newborn Emergencies: The First 30 Days of Life. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2006;53(1):69-84. doi:10.1016/j.pcl.2005.09.011.

Ultrasound in Dyspnea

Brief H&P:

A 68 year-old male with a history of hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure (CHF) with depressed ejection fraction presents via ambulance with a chief complaint of shortness of breath. EMS reports that the patient was tachypneic and saturating 80% on ambient air on their arrival. En route, he received nebulized albuterol, nitroglycerin and was started on non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NI-PPV).

On arrival, he remains uncomfortable-appearing with a respiratory rate of 35 breaths/min and accessory muscle use. His heart rate is 136bpm, blood pressure is 118/85mmHg, and he is saturating 95% on an FiO2 of 100%. Attempts to obtain a history are limited due to difficulty comprehending his responses with the PPV mask on, and prompt desaturation with it off. Lung auscultation is similarly challenging due to ambient and transmitted sounds, although basilar crackles and diffuse expiratory wheezing are appreciated. Cardiovascular examination reveals a rapid and irregularly irregular rhythm. Assessment of jugular venous distension is limited due to the patient’s body habitus and the presence of mask straps around the patient’s neck. Lower extremities demonstrate 2+ pitting edema, symmetric bilaterally. Intravenous access is established and laboratory tests are sent. The ECG technician and portable chest x-ray are called.

The case presentation above demonstrates a common emergency department scenario: a critically-ill patient with undifferentiated dyspnea. Specifically, the scenario reveals a situation where the physical examination is either obfuscated by technical challenges or otherwise indeterminate. The patient is at risk for deterioration and targeted intervention is mandatory. If a COPD exacerbation is assumed, additional nebulized breathing treatments are indicated – a potentially costly jolt of beta agonists if the patient’s atrial fibrillation and rapid ventricular response are the consequence of decompensated systolic heart failure. Take the route of decompensated CHF and prompt afterload reduction with diuresis would be next – if incorrect, not only would the primary cause go untreated, but his tenuously-maintained blood pressure may suffer.

Algorithm for the Use of Ultrasound in the Evaluation of Dyspnea

Algorithm for the Use of Ultrasound in the Evaluation of Dyspnea

1. Lung Ultrasound

An approach incorporating point-of-care ultrasonography may be useful. First, a thoracic ultrasound is performed where certain causative etiologies might be identified immediately – for example absent lung sliding suggesting pneumothorax, or signs of generalized or subpleural consolidation.

The POCUS Atlas
The ultrasound images and videos used in this post come from The POCUS Atlas, a collaborative collection focusing on rare, exotic and perfectly captured ultrasound images.
The POCUS Atlas

Pneumothorax

Hepatization

Shred Sign

Pleural Effusion

2. Cardiac Ultrasound

Other findings on lung ultrasound may point to causes that are not primarily pulmonary. For example, if diffuse B-lines are encountered a focused cardiac ultrasound can be performed to grossly evaluate ejection fraction and estimate right atrial pressure.

B-Lines

Depressed EF

Dilated IVC

3. Venous Ultrasound

Finally, if the lung ultrasound is largely unremarkable (A-lines), a sequence of ultrasonographic findings including right ventricular dilation and the presence of a deep venous thrombosis would point to pulmonary embolism as the diagnosis.

DVT

RV Dilation

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References

  1. Lichtenstein DA, Mezière GA, Lagoueyte J-F, Biderman P, Goldstein I, Gepner A. A-lines and B-lines: lung ultrasound as a bedside tool for predicting pulmonary artery occlusion pressure in the critically ill. Chest. 2009;136(4):1014-1020. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0001.
  2. Copetti R, Soldati G, Copetti P. Chest sonography: a useful tool to differentiate acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema from acute respiratory distress syndrome. Cardiovasc Ultrasound. 2008;6(1):16. doi:10.1186/1476-7120-6-16.
  3. Gallard E, Redonnet J-P, Bourcier J-E, et al. Diagnostic performance of cardiopulmonary ultrasound performed by the emergency physician in the management of acute dyspnea. Am J Emerg Med. 2015;33(3):352-358. doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2014.12.003.
  4. Lichtenstein DA. Lung ultrasound in the critically ill. Ann Intensive Care. 2014;4(1):1. doi:10.1186/2110-5820-4-1.
  5. Zanobetti M, Scorpiniti M, Gigli C, et al. Point-of-Care Ultrasonography for Evaluation of Acute Dyspnea in the ED. Chest. 2017;151(6):1295-1301. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2017.02.003.
  6. Lichtenstein DA, Mezière GA. Relevance of lung ultrasound in the diagnosis of acute respiratory failure: the BLUE protocol. Chest. 2008;134(1):117-125. doi:10.1378/chest.07-2800.
  7. Images from The POCUS Atlas
  8. Special thanks to Dr. Timothy Jang, Director Emergency Ultrasound Program, Director Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship, Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine at Harbor-UCLA

Dyspnea

Causes of Dyspnea

Causes of Dyspnea

Findings in Selected Causes of Dyspnea

Condition History Symptoms Findings Evaluation
Anaphylaxis Exposure to allergen Abrupt onset, facial swelling Stridor, wheezing, hives  
PE Immobilization, malignancy, prior DVT/PE, surgery, OCP Abrupt onset, pleuritic chest pain Tachycardia, hypoxia ECG (RV strain)
CT PA, D-dimer
LE US (DVT)
Pneumonia Exposure, tobacco use Fever, productive cough Focal rales CXR
CBC
Blood/respiratory cultures
Pneumothorax Trauma, thin male Abrupt onset, chest pain Decreased BS, subQ emphysema, JVD and tracheal deviation if tension CXR
US
Fluid overload Dietary indiscretion, medication non-adherence Orthopnea, PND JVD, S3/S4, peripheral edema CXR
US
ECG
BNP
COPD/Asthma Tobacco use, personal/family history Progressive Retractions, accessory muscle use, wheezing CXR
US (distinguish from fluid overload)
Malignancy Tobacco use, weight loss Hemoptysis   CXR
CT Chest

References

  1. Braithwaite, S., & Perina, D. (2013). Dyspnea. In Rosen’s Emergency Medicine – Concepts and Clinical Practice (8th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 206-213). Elsevier Health Sciences.