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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Articles in Press

Images in Emergency Medicine

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.

Case Reports

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.

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.

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.

Acute Focal Bacterial Nephritis in a Patient with Solitary Kidney: Case Report

Introduction: Acute focal bacterial nephritis is an underdiagnosed condition. It clinically resembles acute pyelonephritis. If unrecognized and undertreated, it may progress into complications (kidney abscess and scars). Contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) reveals specific images of the disease and is considered the gold standard to make the diagnosis. 

Case Report: A 63-year-old male patient with solitary kidney presented with symptoms compatible with acute pyelonephritis. Kidney ultrasound was not conclusive. Because of persisting high-grade fever not resolving after 48 hours of antibiotics, a contrast-enhanced CT was then performed, and the diagnosis of acute focal bacterial nephritis was made. A repeat CT after three weeks of intravenous (IV) antibiotics showed marked improvement of the intrarenal lesions, and a fourth week of IV antibiotics was dispensed.

Conclusion: Diagnosing acute focal bacterial nephritis is important (particularly in a patient with solitary kidney). This will dictate the therapy duration. Unlike acute pyelonephritis, acute focal bacterial nephritis requires at least three weeks duration of antibiotics to avoid progress into further complications. 

Emergency Department Point-of-care Ultrasound Identification of Suspected Lemierre’s Syndrome: A Case Report

Introduction: Lemierre’s syndrome is septic thrombophlebitis of the internal jugular vein, most commonly associated with head and neck infections. While central catheters are associated with venous thromboembolism and catheter-associated bacterial infections, cases of Lemierre’s syndrome caused by central catheters are extraordinarily rare.

Case Report: We detail a case of Lemierre’s syndrome resulting from a peripherally inserted central catheter in a pregnant female patient. Diagnosis of this rare and potentially life-threatening disease process was expedited using point-of-care ultrasound.  

Conclusion: Diagnosis of rare but potentially life- or limb-threatening pathologies is paramount to the successful practice of emergency medicine. Identifying these rare disease processes requires a high index of suspicion and a work-up strategy that includes consideration of medical history in combination with lab and imaging findings to determine appropriate interventions.