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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Case Reports

Aortic Thrombus with Bilateral Renal Infarcts: A Case Report

Introduction: The presence of a hypercoagulable state predisposes to venous and arterial thrombi. While the relationship between protein C and S deficiencies with venous thrombus formation is clear, the relationship to arterial thrombi formation is less common. Thromboembolic disease of the renal arteries may result in renal infarction. The development of simultaneous bilateral renal infarction is rare and can lead to significant morbidity and mortality.

Case Report: This is a case of a 48-year-old male with known protein C deficiency who presented to the emergency department with sudden onset abdominal pain. A computed tomography angiogram of the abdomen showed bilateral renal infarctions. The patient required significant analgesia and developed acute kidney injury. He was treated conservatively, and dialysis was not required.

Conclusion: There are no reports in the emergency medicine literature of bilateral renal infarction secondary to protein C and S deficiency. Prompt evaluation with definitive imaging is necessary for patients who are at high risk for arterial thrombi and present with symptoms suggestive of the diagnosis.

Case Report: Pediatric Thyroid Storm Presenting to the Emergency Department with Afebrile Seizure

Introduction: Seizures are a common presenting complaint and account for approximately 1% of total emergency department (ED) visits. Seizures are especially common in children less than five years old as they have a lower seizure threshold as compared to adults. One potentially dangerous etiology that is far less common, especially in children, is thyroid storm, the extreme manifestationof hyperthyroidism.

Case Report: We describe the case of a 3-year-old girl who presented to the ED with an afebrile seizure but was found to be in thyroid storm. This case should serve as a reminder for emergency physicians to consider thyroid disease when evaluating patients presenting with seizures.

Conclusion: Although most pediatric seizures are self-limited and frequently benign, it is imperative that the emergency physician evaluate for and rule out any potentially associated dangerous conditions such as thyroid storm.

Complications of Bacterial Keratitis Impacted by Social Determinants of Health: A Case Report

Introduction: The emergency department commonly evaluates eye pain and vision loss. Typically, these conditions can be managed outpatient; however, delays can lead to advanced pathology.

Case Report: A 48-year-old homeless male presented with left-eye vision loss and pain. His exam revealed monocular decreased visual acuity, corneal ulcer, and hypopyon. The patient was diagnosed with bacterial keratitis and admitted for treatment but left against medical advice. He returned and was admitted for further treatment but was lost to follow-up thereafter.

Conclusion: Our case features complicated bacterial keratitis with several treatment interruptions, demonstrating how healthcare disparities contribute to potentially preventable advanced pathology.

Delayed Onset of Symptoms After a Rattlesnake Bite in a Renal Transplant Patient: A Case Report

Introduction: The United States is home to two major families of venomous snakes, Crotalids and Elapids. The Crotalid family, also known as pit vipers, is well known for being among the most frequent causes of snakebites reported. Crotalid envenomation can present with local findings, hematologic toxicity, and systemic toxicity. Identification of envenomated patients is key to determining who needs antivenom. Most sources recommend an observation period of six to eight hours after the snakebite to determine whether the bite was “dry” or the patient was exposed to venom.

Case Report: We present the case of a 33-year-old patient with a history of renal transplantation who had delayed onset of symptoms of envenomation 18 hours after an initial emergency department observation. The patient did well after a course of antivenom and was discharged on hospital day three.

Conclusion: The patient’s immunosuppressive regimen may have delayed the onset of clinical symptoms, thus delaying treatment. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case reported of a patient presenting with a delayed onset of initial snakebite envenomation symptoms.

Isolated Laryngeal Angioedema in a Patient with Long-term ACE Inhibitor Use: A Case Report

Introduction: Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor-associated angioedema is the most common cause of angioedema seen in the emergency department (ED) and can be associated with a high morbidity. Most cases occur within months of initiation of an ACE inhibitor and are associated with facial and/or oropharyngeal swelling. We present a case of isolated laryngeal edema requiring intubation following 10 years of ACE inhibitor therapy.

Case Report: An 82-year-old female, who was on lisinopril therapy for 10 years, presented to the ED with shortness of breath and a sensation that her throat was swelling. She appeared to be in mild respiratory distress and could only speak in one-word sentences. On the physical exam, there was no swelling in the tongue, lips, or face, and the uvula was midline. There was mild posterior pharyngeal edema and swelling noted, but the airway was not visibly obstructed. She was tachypneic and stridor was present. After no improvement with medications, anesthesia successfully intubated her in the operating room. It was deemed a difficult airway secondary to posterior pharyngeal erythema and edema. She was diagnosed with ACE inhibitor-associated angioedema and was extubated four days later. Her lisinopril was discontinued, and she has not had a recurrence of angioedema.

Conclusion: ACE inhibitor-induced angioedema commonly presents with facial and oropharyngeal swelling. Its recognition, even years after starting an ACE inhibitor, is necessary to ensure swift and appropriate treatment of potentially life-threatening posterior pharyngeal edema.

Peripartum Cardiac Arrest with Terminal QRS Distortion: A Case Report

Introduction: Peripartum cardiac arrest is increasing in incidence. While pulmonary embolism (PE) remains an important cause of peripartum morbidity and mortality, other cardiovascular emergencies such as myocardial infarction (MI) are now the leading cause of pregnancy-related death. Emergency physicians (EP) need to be well versed in subtle electrocardiographic (ECG) signs of coronary ischemia to better care for peripartum patients in cardiac arrest.

Case Report: A 38-year-old gravida 2 parity1 female three days post-partum presented in cardiac arrest. After approximately 12 minutes of Advanced Cardiac Life Support including electric defibrillation, the patient experienced sustained return of spontaneous circulation. The physician team was primarily concerned for PE based on an initial ECG demonstrating terminal QRS distortion in V2 but no ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Computed tomography angiography (CTA) of the chest did not reveal PE. Repeat ECG after CTA demonstrated STEMI criteria, and the patient was emergently taken to the cardiac catheterization laboratory where she was found to have 99% occlusion of the left anterior descending artery.

Conclusion: Emergency physicians should have a high index of suspicion for MI when managing peripartum patients in cardiac arrest. The ECG findings specific for coronary-occlusive acute MI but not included in the classic STEMI criteria increase accuracy and prevent delays in diagnosis; however, the clinical uptake of this paradigm has been slow. Early recognition of terminal QRS distortion can help EPs more rapidly diagnose the etiology of cardiac arrest.

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection Presenting as Electrical Storm: A Case Report

Introduction: Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is an important cause of myocardial infarction in patients of younger age without typical atherosclerotic risk factors and can present with ventricular arrhythmia such as ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF). Electrical storm (ES) is defined as greater than or equal to 3 episodes of VT or VF occurring within 24 hours.

Case Report: A healthy 38-year-old-male developed chest pain while exercising at the gym and presented to the emergency department unresponsive in a ventricular arrhythmia defined as ES. The patient’s cardiac arrest was initially refractory to standard defibrillation and Advanced Cardiac Life Support medications. He was ultimately diagnosed with SCAD of the left anterior descending artery, which was stented. The patient survived neurologically intact after a 13-day hospital stay.

Conclusion: Spontaneous coronary artery dissection is a significant cause of acute coronary syndrome and occurs in healthier patients without cardiac risk factors. Electrical storm represents a unique manifestation of SCAD. Emergency physicians should maintain a heightened suspicion for SCAD for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The Other Aortic Syndrome–Intramural Hematoma and Neurological Deficit: Case Report

Introduction: Acute thoracic aortic syndromes are among the most concerning presentations in emergency medicine and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Thoracic aortic dissection is most common, followed by penetrating aortic ulcer and, least commonly, intramural hematoma.

Case Report: A 67-year-old woman presented to the emergency department with chest and back pain, and sudden onset of paraparesis. Aortic intramural hematoma was diagnosed, and she underwent spinal drain placement with blood pressure control to optimize spinal cord perfusion.

Discussion: When neurological deficits are present, rapid diagnosis of spinal ischemia and blood pressure optimization is vital. Spinal drains may be considered as an adjunctive treatment.

The Rare Sore Throat: A Case of Thyroid Storm and Agranulocytosis

Introduction: Thyroid storm is a rare but potentially life-threatening metabolic disorder that presents unique management challenges in the emergency department. Thionamides are commonly used as monotherapy for first-line treatment of hyperthyroidism.

Case Report: In this case, a 26-year-old male presented to the emergency department with sore throat, fever, and diarrhea. He was found to have thyrotoxicosis as well as methimazole-induced bone marrow suppression resulting in agranulocytosis.

Conclusion: Thyroid storm is a rare condition that carries a high risk of mortality and can further compromise a patient’s immune system due to complications of common treatment modalities. It can potentially be misdiagnosed as sepsis due to tachycardia, febrile state, and tachypnea. This case report includes a discussion of diagnostic studies, as well as medical and surgical treatment modalities that led to the patient’s recovery.

Vitamin C and D Deficiency in Urban America: A Case Report

Introduction: Scurvy is caused by vitamin C deficiency and manifests with a variety of symptoms including generalized fatigue, apathy, anemia, myalgias, easy bruising, and poor wound healing. It is generally thought of as a disease of the past, especially in developed countries. However, vitamin C deficiency still occurs, especially in patients with lack of access to fruits and vegetables. Other micronutrient deficiencies, including vitamin D deficiency, are also prevalent and can cause a multitude of signs and symptoms including osteomalacia, muscle weakness, and increased risk of many chronic illnesses.

Case Report: Here we present a case of vitamin C and D deficiency in a previously healthy 26-year-old man during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic in urban America.

Conclusion: Severe nutritional deficiencies still exist today. Emergency clinicians should be aware of the signs and symptoms to promptly diagnose and initiate treatment.

A Case Report of Unilateral Syphilitic Uveitis: A Diagnostic Challenge and the Role of Point-of-care Ultrasound

Introduction: Syphilis presents with diverse clinical manifestations, posing challenges for diagnosis, especially in the fast-paced emergency department (ED) setting.

Case Report: We report a rare case of unilateral syphilitic uveitis in an individual who had been sexually abstinent for 13 years. Using ocular point-of-care ultrasound in the ED, we successfully diagnosed this uncommon ocular manifestation.

Conclusion: Our case highlights the diagnostic challenges of ocular syphilis and emphasizes the crucial nature of timely identification. Collaborative efforts with specialties such as ophthalmology are essential in overcoming these challenges.

Cerebral Air Embolism After Endoscopy: A Case Report

Introduction: Cerebral air embolisms are a rare but potentially devastating event where air enters the vascular system. Although commonly associated with intravascular catheters, they can arise from a variety of mechanisms including endoscopic procedures.

Case Report: We report the case of a 90-year-old woman who presented with focal neurologic deficits due to an air embolism after undergoing an esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

Conclusion: Cerebral air embolisms should be considered in patients who present to the emergency department with acute neurologic changes, especially after an endoscopic procedure.

Diagnosis and Management of Amanita Phalloides Toxicity in the Emergency Department Observation Unit: A Case Report

Introduction: Mushroom toxicity is an important etiology of acute liver injury in a patient with gastrointestinal symptoms.

Case Report: We present the case of a male patient presenting to the emergency department (ED) with gastrointestinal distress who was placed under ED observation for elevated liver function tests. During his hospital course, it was revealed he had consumed wild mushrooms believed to be Amanita phalloides.

Conclusion: While mushroom ingestion and subsequent toxicity are rare, a high index of suspicion in foraging hobbyists is essential to arriving at the correct diagnosis and directing the patient to the appropriate management.

Lithium Toxicity: A Case Report of Toxicity Resulting in a Third-degree Heart Block

Introduction: Lithium is a medication used to treat bipolar disorder. It has a narrow therapeutic index, which frequently causes toxicity in patients.

Case Report: We present an unusual case of a 66-year-old female with a history of bipolar disorder on chronic lithium, who developed a third-degree heart block, encephalopathy, and acute renal failure because of lithium toxicity.

Conclusion: This case highlights a rare but life-threatening case of complete heart block in the setting of lithium toxicity. The patient was treated with hemodialysis and pacemaker placement.

Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome in 17-year-old Male with Abdominal Pain: Case Report

Introduction: Median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS) is an uncommon cause of chronic abdominal pain resulting from the compression of the celiac artery. It shares symptoms with chronic functional abdominal pain, a more common cause of pediatric chronic abdominal pain. Typically found in middle-aged females, MALS is a diagnosis of exclusion.

Case Report: A 17-year-old male who presented to the emergency department with periumbilical pain for two months was subsequently diagnosed with MALS through computed tomography angiography. Further vascular and gastroenterology evaluations confirmed the diagnosis, ruling out other common causes of chronic abdominal pain. The patient received non-operative treatment in the form of endoscopic ultrasound celiac plexus block, with the possibility of surgical management if necessary.

Conclusion: Median arcuate ligament syndrome is an uncommon cause of chronic abdominal pain that is difficult to differentiate from other causes, especially in pediatric patients. It should be considered in the patient whose previous workup was not conclusive and symptom management had failed. Management is multidisciplinary with non-operative management preferred initially. If there is no improvement, surgical management should be considered.

Septic Arthritis of the Sternoclavicular Joint

Introduction: Sternoclavicular joint (SCJ) septic arthritis is a rare but rapidly fatal joint infection. Without proper medical or surgical management, it can progress to osteomyelitis, chest wall abscess, mediastinitis, or myositis.

Case Report: A 57-year-old male with a past history of intravenous drug use presented to the emergency department (ED) with chest tenderness of one week duration. Vital signs were unremarkable, and exam was notable for tender, raised right SCJ without any fluctuance. On point-of-care ultrasound we noted fluid collection and capsular distention along the SCJ, which aided in rapidly diagnosing septic arthritis. The patient was immediately started on antibiotics and taken to the operating room for excision and debridement.

Conclusion: While computed tomography is routinely used in the emergency department for diagnosing septic arthritis, ultrasound offers a rapid and safe alternative for diagnosis.

Spontaneously Conceived Ruptured Heterotopic Pregnancy Presenting with Chest Pain and Dyspnea: A Case Report

Introduction: Heterotopic pregnancy, defined as simultaneous intrauterine and ectopic pregnancy, is a rare and potentially life-threatening condition. The incidence of heterotopic pregnancy has significantly increased in the modern era, primarily due to use of assisted reproductive technology. Heterotopic pregnancy in the absence of risk factors is uncommon. The symptoms of heterotopic pregnancy are similar to those of ectopic pregnancy, primarily abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding.

Case Report: We report a case of heterotopic pregnancy occurring in the absence of risk factors and presenting with primary symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath.

Conclusion: While uncommon, heterotopic pregnancy may occur in patients without risk factors and may present with atypical symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath.

Ultrasound-Guided, Mid-Forearm Median Nerve Block for Relief of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain in the Emergency Department: A Case Report

Introduction: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common complaint in the emergency department (ED) and accounts for approximately 90% of all peripheral neuropathies.6 Pain control from injection with corticosteroids into the carpal tunnel space is associated with multiple possible complications including atrophy, iatrogenic median nerve injury, and skin changes. Ultrasound (US)-guided mid-forearm median nerve block is an ED procedure that can be used to avoid direct injection into the carpal tunnel space. Here we present a case report proposing the use of US-guided mid-forearm block as a safe and effective adjunct to the management of acute pain caused by CTS.

Case Report: A previously healthy 44-year-old, right-hand dominant female presented to the ED with left wrist pain. Her clinical exam and US findings were consistent with CTS. Given her allergy to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, she was offered a median nerve block, which was performed in the ED. The patient reported continued pain relief 24 hours after discharge from the ED.

Conclusion: There is limited data on the use of US-guided mid-forearm median nerve block as an acute pain management tool for CTS in the ED. The US-guided median nerve block done in the mid-forearm location can provide pain control for those with CTS while reducing the risk of complications associated with direct carpal tunnel injection.

Images in Emergency Medicine

A Case of Perforating Folliculitis in a Peritoneal Dialysis Patient

Case Presentation: A 30-year-old male with a past medical history of hypertension and renal failure on peritoneal dialysis presented to the emergency department with a chief complaint of a rash on his anterior trunk for the prior three weeks. Dermatological examination revealed multiple, discrete folliculocentric, erythematous, and hyperpigmented papules, with scattered adjacent angulated erosions.

Discussion: Perforating folliculitis is a rare and often difficult to diagnose skin condition classically seen in patients with chronic renal disease or underlying immunodeficiency.

Insidious Manifestations of Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Case Presentation: A 66-year-old gentleman presented with several months of a generalized pruritic skin eruption along his face, thorax, and extremities. Although he had been seen previously, no diagnosis was made until he presented to the emergency department (ED) with worsening lesions. The patient was ultimately diagnosed with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Discussion: Accurately diagnosing a rash in the ED is not always possible as more invasive studies may be needed. Emergency physicians can expedite these studies where there is a high suspicion for a diagnosis that may need urgent evaluation and management by specialists through hospital admission and appropriate consultations. The clinical images here are an example of a rare disease manifesting as a debilitating rash, requiring inpatient evaluation and management.

Man Presenting After Hydrochloric Acid Ingestion

Case Presentation: We describe a case of a man who developed severe caustic injury of his upper gastrointestinal tract after ingestion of a commercially available 9.5% hydrochloric acidic cleaning solution. He rapidly deteriorated and required endotracheal intubation. He underwent several imaging modalities demonstrating his injuries and ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Discussion: Acidic caustic ingestions may range in severity and uncommonly result in death. Diagnosis is most often achieved by esophagogastroduodenoscopy, although computed tomography may increasingly play a role in defining the extent of injury. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy findings are often assigned a Zargar grade, which guides management. Medical management of acidic caustic ingestion may include bowel rest, steroids, antibiotics, and proton pump inhibitors depending on the extent of injury, although surgery may be required if esophageal perforation occurs.