There are many different variations of RRT, but the main principles behind it can be quite simple.
In hemodialysis, diffusion is responsible for removing unwanted solutes and water. The setup involves a semipermeable membrane that can allow water and some water-soluble molecules to pass. Blood will flow on one side of the membrane, under pressure, while the dialysate (contains glucose and some electrolytes) generally flows on the other side in the opposite direction. This creates a suitable concentration gradient for unwanted molecules to pass into the dialysate, while excess water is forced across the membrane based on the amount of pressure is applied by the dialysis circuit.
In hemofiltration, blood is pushed across a semipermeable membrane, under pressure. Most of the plasma water is able to pass through the membrane, while unwanted molecules get stuck in the membrane (convection). A substitution fluid may be added back to the blood, in order to dilute out waste molecules (e.g., urea), replace useful molecules (e.g., bicarbonate), and to avoid losing too much fluid from the patient’s circulation.
Some modes of RRT will involve both hemodialysis and hemofiltration. Others only use one of these mechanisms.
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Waveform capnography is a commonly used monitor in the operating room, and is increasingly seen in non-operating room environments too! The capnographic waveform can be described as having several phases:
Phase 0 (inspiratory baseline) represents the inspiratory phase of the respiratory cycle.
Phase 1 is the initial part of expiration, when dead space gases are being exhaled. Since the exhaled gas in this phase did not take part in gas exchange, the PCO2 is 0.
Phase 2 (expiratory upstroke) involves exhaled gases from alveoli reaching the detector. There is a sharp rise in PCO2 during this phase.
Phase 3 is a (more or less) flat plateau showing continued exhalation of alveolar gas. The last, maximal part of this phase is the end-tidal point (ETCO2), which is usually 35-40 mmHg. ETCO2 tends to be 2-5 mmHg lower than PaCO2, though this difference can be increased/decreased under a variety of conditions, such as ventilation-perfusion mismatch.
The shape of the capnograph waveform can tell you a lot!
A slanting upslope can represent airway obstruction (e.g., chronic obstructed pulmonary disease, bronchospasm, blocked endotracheal tube).
In patients paralyzed with a neuromuscular blocker, as the paralytic wears off they may try to breathe asynchronously against the ventilator, producing a notch called a ‘curare cleft.’
Quantitative capnography during resuscitation can be very useful. During CPR, there should be a visible waveform during high quality chest compressions; its absence may indicate accidental esophageal intubation
A sudden loss is bad, as it means that the tube is fully obstructed or disconnected or that there has been a sudden loss of circulation
You can also just simply tell is someone is hypo- or hyperventilating
Dorsch JA, Dorsch SE. 2007. Gas monitoring. In: Understanding anesthesia equipment (Dorsch and Dorsch, Eds.) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia PA.
Kodali BS. 2013. Capnography outside the operating rooms. Anesthesiology; 118:192.
For being such a small anatomic location, people find it very difficult to describe where on the hand or digits things are actually happening when there is an injury.
I think part of it stems back to medical school when we are taught that the digits all have numbers, the thumb is D1, index D2 and so forth. The problem comes when people say “the 3rd finger” and all of the sudden one has no idea whether they are talking about the long finger (D3) or the ring finger (D4 but then, the thumb doesn’t count as a finger, does it?)
Which finger (digit?!) is which?
This is why it’s always best to call digits by their names, this even goes for metacarpals. It is totally OK, and generally less confusing to call a bone the index finger metacarpal.
Thumb = D1
Index = D2
Long = D3
Ring = D4
Small = D5
Which side of the hand?
The same goes for which side of the hand the problem is on. There is no lateral or medial side to the hand. One could argue that it’s how someone is in anatomical position, so obviously the small finger side is medial, unfortunately very few people walk around in anatomic position and it’s their thumbs that point to the body.
So best to describe side by two things that stay put regardless of how someone has their hands in space: the radius and the ulna.
Thumb side = RADIAL
Small finger side = ULNAR
Finally for the top and bottom (or is it back and front) of the hands: use the terms DORSAL (where the nails are) and VOLAR (or palmar)
Sore throats (pharyngitis) are a common complaint in primary and emergency care settings. Most of the time, pharyngitis is caused by viral infection (most commonly rhinovirus).
Streptococcus pyogenes, aka Lancefield group A streptococci, (GAS) is the most common bacterial cause of pharyngitis. The possible complications of GAS infection include:
Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with Group A streptococci (PANDAS) *controversial!
Signs and symptoms
GAS pharyngitis may also include fever, chills, malaise, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or maculopapular rash (scarlet fever). Cough, coryza/rhinitis, and conjunctivitis are uncommon symptoms for GAS pharyngitis. However, clinically diagnosing GAS pharyngitis based on history and physical is incredibly unreliable, so patients with a convincing presentation would benefit from laboratory confirmation (i.e., throat culture, rapid antigen detection test of throat swab). The Centor and McIsaac criteria are useful for helping rule out GAS pharyngitis, but shouldn’t be used exclusively to diagnose it.
The Centor criteria are scored based on the presence of:
Fever (subjective or >38 C)
Lack of cough
Tender lymphadenopathy (anterior cervical)
The MacIsaac criteria add an extra point for patients < 14 years old (since this age group is more prone to GAS pharyngitis) and subtract a point if >45 years old. A low score on these criteria help to exclude GAS pharyngitis, but higher scores indicate a need for lab tests.
The first-line treatment for GAS pharyngitis is penicillin. Other antimicrobial agents vary between different guidelines. Guidelines vary about whether empiric treatment should be considered before lab results have confirmed a diagnosis.
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Scaphoid fractures are very common but due to its weird blood supply, the scaphoid is prone to not healing well (review the anatomy of the scaphoid in this doodle). This is why fractures of the scaphoid and even SUSPECTED fractures of the scaphoid are treated very conservatively.
Even if you’re suspicious of a fracture but don’t see one on x-ray, that’s enough to subject someone to a cast for 2 weeks and then bring them back to re-x-ray.
This doodle goes through the basic algorithm for treating scaphoid fractures centred around a timeline to show how long the treatment course can be. There are of course nuances to the management, so take a person’s work and hobbies and handedness into consideration. Also, don’t be afraid to consult your friendly hand/wrist specialist.
The scaphoid is the most commonly fractured carpal bone, accounting for almost 70% of fractures. It tends to be young males who break their scaphoid this is both an anatomical thing: younger kids get ligament injuries and older folks break their distal radius and a lifestyle thing: falling on outstretched hands (skateboarding, snowboarding) or throwing a punch both place a lot of force across the scaphoid leading to fractures.
The bad thing about scaphoid fractures is that the blood supply (from a branch of the radial artery) comes from distal to proximal. Since most fractures happen at the waist of the scaphoid the likelihood of having poor blood supply to the fracture site is quite high. It doesn’t help matters that around 80% of the scaphoid is articular surface (joint surface), so if it doesn’t heel well, it can lead to problems with arthritis of the wrist later on.
Scaphoid fractures present with a pretty classic story and the person is usually swollen and bruised and will have tenderness in their “snuffbox.” So even if the x-ray doesn’t show a fracture, it’s best to treat with a cast for comfort and safety and then recheck them in 2 week’s time (this will be discussed in a separate post).
Volume control (VC) and pressure control (PC) are two common modes of positive pressure mechanical ventilation. In VC, the clinician sets the tidal volume that is given for every breath; pressure is allowed to vary over the course of the breath. In PC, the ventilator is programmed to deliver the same pressure throughout inspiration, so tidal volume is allowed to vary based on the pressure and timing settings, as well as the patient’s own lung compliance.
The timing of ventilation can be set according to a trigger. Continuous mandatory ventilation (CMV) involves setting the respiratory rate and having the ventilator deliver breaths at exactly that rate. This is generally used in paralyzed patients (e.g., general anesthesia), where the patient is not expected to trigger any breaths. In Synchronized Intermittent Mandatory Ventilation (SIMV), mandatory breaths are still given but they are synchronized to the patients’ own respiratory efforts (if present). Also, the patient is allowed to take additional breaths on their own. SIMV is often used to wean patients from the ventilator, by decreasing the rate of mandatory breaths and having patients take more of their breaths spontaneously.
Pressure support (PS) is another mode that is used for weaning. No mandatory breaths are programmed. The patient actively takes their own breaths, and the ventilator simply gives an additional boast of inspiratory pressure to help them out.
Positive End Expiratory Pressure (PEEP) is a setting that is used to prevent alveolar collapse, increase functional residual capacity, and generally improve gas exchange. PEEP involves programming a small amount of additional airway pressure (often ~5-10 cmH2O) to be present at the end of expiration.
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Acute limb ischemia is a sudden decrease in limb perfusion that can potentially threaten limb viability, in patients presenting within 2 weeks of symptom onset (it is considered chronic if more than 2 weeks have passed). The common causes of limb ischemia are:
Arterial embolism (80% of cases)
Thrombus (usually from site of atherosclerotic plaque)
Arterial trauma (e.g., after interventional catheterization procedures)
The symptoms can come on over a period of hours or days. It is important to recognize this condition, in order to improve the chance of limb preservation. Acute limb ischemia is characterized by the 6 P’s:
Polar/Poikylothermia (affected extremity is cool on palpation)
If no pulse is palpable, then assessment of perfusion with a Doppler ultrasound is the next step. Note that acutely ischemic limbs may not always appear pale; the extremity may progress to a blue or mottled appearance as the ischemia continues. The most reliable symptoms are paresthesias, which will progress to complete loss of sensation, and paralysis, which may indicate the limb is no longer viable.
Once acute limb ischemia is identified, intravenous heparin is administered. Surgical or endovascular revascularization is the definitive treatment for acute limb ischemia, though these interventions should be performed within 6 hours of symptom onset to improve the probability of limb salvage.
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Bag mask ventilation (BMV) is an important means of ventilating and oxygenating a patient unable to protect their airway, or in respiratory depression. BMV can be useful as a primary airway management modality in a prehospital setting, and it is also a useful rescue maneuver for cases of difficult endotracheal intubation.
The following patient features, however, will make BMV difficult; this can be remembered with the helpful mnemonic BOOTS:
Essentially, BMV can be complicated any condition that impairs formation of an effective mask seal. Beards can make establishing an adequate seal difficult, as can any disruption of normal facial anatomy (no teeth, facial fractures, excess facial tissue). Individuals aged over 55 years old are considered to be higher risk for BMV, in part because of decreased upper airway muscle tone. Patients should be screened for obstructive sleep apnea before an elective surgery; also, note that conditions increasing airway resistance (e.g., severe asthma) or decreasing pulmonary compliance (e.g., pulmonary edema) can make ventilation challenging.
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Kovacs G and Law JA (Eds). 2011. Airway management in emergencies. People’s Medical Publishing House-USA.