Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 11, Issue 4, 2010

Volume 11 Issue 4 2010


Prospective Durability Testing of a Vascular Access Phantom

Introduction: We assessed the acoustic transmission, image quality, and vessel integrity of the Blue PhantomTM 2 Vessel Original Ultrasound Training Model with repeated use.

Methods: The study consisted of two phases. During the first phase, a portion of the Blue PhantomTM rubber matrix (without a simulated vessel) was placed over a two-tiered echogenic structure and was repeatedly punctured with a hollow bore 18-gauge needle in a 1 cm2 area. During the second phase, a portion of the matrix with a simulated vessel was repeatedly punctured with another hollow bore 18-gauge needle. During both phases we obtained an ultrasound image using a high-frequency linear probe after every 100 needle punctures to assess the effect of repeated needle punctures on image quality, acoustic transmission, and simulated vessel integrity.

Results: Testing on the rubber matrix alone (first phase) without a vessel demonstrated a gradual decrease in image quality and visualization of the proximal and distal portions of the target structure, but they remained visible after 1,000 needle punctures. The second phase demonstrated excellent acoustic transmission and image quality on both transverse and longitudinal images of the rubber matrix and simulated vessel after 1,000 needle punctures. The anterior and posterior vessel walls and needle tip were well visualized without any signs of vessel leakage on still images or with compression and power Doppler.

Conclusion: The Blue PhantomTM 2 Vessel Original Ultrasound Training Model demonstrated excellent durability after 1,000 needle punctures in a 1- cm2 area. Based on the length of simulated vessel in each model, it should support over 25,000 simulated attempts at vascular access. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):302-305.]

Ultrasound Diagnosis of Bilateral Quadriceps Tendon Rupture After Statin Use

Simultaneous bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture is a rare injury. We report the case of bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture sustained with minimal force while refereeing a football game. The injury was suspected to be associated with statin use as the patient had no other identifiable risk factors.The diagnosis was confirmed using bedside ultrasound. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):306-309.]

Ultrasound-Guided Three-In-One Nerve Block for Femur Fractures

Femur fractures typically affect elderly patients with multiple co-morbidities. Pain control can be difficult, requiring intensive nursing and physician care as elderly patients may manifest cardiovascular and respiratory complications from opiate administration. Ultrasound (US) guided three-in-one (3-in-1) femoral nerve block (FNB) is an option for pain management in patients with femur fractures, as it provides regional anesthesia to the femoral, obturator and lateral cutaneous nerves. Our goal is to provide medical education regarding the use of US guided 3-in-1FNB as a rapid and easy procedure that may provide optimal patient care in patients with femur fractures. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):310-313.]

Variability in Ultrasound Education among Emergency Medicine Residencies

Objective: Education in emergency ultrasound (EUS) has become an essential part of emergency medicine (EM) resident training. In 2009, comprehensive residency training guidelines were published to ensure proficiency in ultrasound education. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends that 150 ultrasound exams be performed for physician competency. Our goal is to evaluate the current ultrasound practices among EM residency programs and assess the need for further formalization of EUS training.

Methods: We generated a survey using an online survey tool and administered via the internet. The survey consisted of 25 questions that included multiple choice and free text answers. These online survey links were sent via email to EM ultrasound directors at all 149 American College of Graduate Medical Education EM residency programs in April 2008. We surveyed programs regarding EUS curriculum and residency proficiency requirements and descriptive statistics were used to report the survey findings.

Results: Sixty-five residency programs responded to the survey. The average number of ultrasound exams required by programs for EUS competency was 137 scans. However, the majority of programs 42/65 (64%) require their residents to obtain 150 scans or greater for competency. Fifty-one out of 64 (79%) programs reported having a structured ultrasound curriculum while 14/64 (21%) of programs reported that EUS training is primarily resident self-directed. In terms of faculty credentialing, 29/62 (47%) of residency programs have greater than 50% of faculty credentialed. Forty-four out of 61 (72%) programs make EUS a required rotation. Thirty-four out of 63 (54%) programs felt that they were meeting all their goals for resident EUS education.

Conclusion: Currently discrepancies exist between EM residency programs in ultrasound curriculum and perceived needs for achieving proficiency in EUS. Although a majority of residency programs require 150 ultrasound exams or more to achieve resident competency, overall the average number of scans required by all programs is 137 exams. This number is less than that recommended by ACEP for physician competency. These data suggest that guidelines are needed to help standardize ultrasound training for all EM residency programs. [West J Emerg Med 2010; 11(4):314-318.]

Ultrasound Use and “Overuse”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General has issued a report concerning “high use” and “questionable use” ultrasound. Findings include those geographic areas where occurrences are most frequent, as well as the most common elements that characterize questionable use. While not its primary focus, emergency physician performed bedside ultrasound is within the scope of the report. Implications for emergency ultrasound are discussed and practice recommendations made for minimizing regulatory exposure for emergency physicians and departments. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):319-321.]

Ultrasound Detection of Lung Hepatization

Bedside ultrasound interrogation of the thorax can aide the clinician in determining the cause of the respiratory dysfunction. Often plain radiographs are not sufficient to differentiate pathology. We present a case in which bedside ultrasound defined the pathology without the need for further imaging. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):322-323.]

Occupancy Rates and Emergency Department Work Index Scores Correlate with Leaving Without Being Seen

Objective: Two crowding metrics are often used to measure emergency department (ED) crowding: the occupancy rate and the emergency department work index (EDWIN) score. To evaluate these metrics for applicability in our community ED, we sought to measure their correlation with the number of patients who left without being seen (LWBS) and determine if either, or both, correlated with our daily LWBS rate. We hypothesized a statistically significant positive correlation between the number of patients who LWBS and both crowding metrics.

Methods: We performed a retrospective observational study by reviewing data on all patients who LWBS from December 1, 2007, to February 29, 2008. Occupancy rates and EDWIN scores were obtained through our electronic patient tracking board. We identified LWBS status by searching the final disposition entered into our electronic medical record. We measured the correlation between each crowding metric averaged over each 24-hour day and the number of patients who LWBS per 24-hour day using Spearman's rank correlation, and created receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves to quantify the discriminatory power of occupancy rate and EDWIN score for predicting more than two patients per day who LWBS.

Results: We identified 1,193 patients who LWBS during the study period, including patients who registered but then left the waiting room (733), as well as those who left before: registration (71), triage (75), seeing a physician (260), or final disposition (54). The number of patients who LWBS per day ranged from one to 30, with a mean of 13 and median of 11 (IQR 6 to 19). The daily number of patients who LWBS showed a positive correlation with the average daily occupancy rate (Spearman’s rho = 0.771, p = 0.01) and with average daily EDWIN score (Spearman's rho = 0.67, p< .001). Area under the ROC curve for occupancy rate was .97 (95% CI .93 to 1.0) and for EDWIN score was .94 (95% CI .89 to 1.0).

Conclusion: Average daily occupancy rates and EDWIN scores both correlate positively with, and have excellent discriminatory power for, the number of patients who LWBS in our ED; however, the scale of our EDWIN scores differs from that obtained at other institutions. For studies of crowding, occupancy rate may be the more useful metric due to its ease of calculation. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):324-328.]

Learning to Use an Emergency Department Information System: Impact on Patient Length of Stay

Objective: An electronic emergency department information system (EDIS) can monitor the progress of a patient visit, facilitate computerized physician order entry, display test results and generate an electronic medical record. Ideally, use of an EDIS will increase overall emergency department (ED) efficiency. However, in academic settings where new interns rotate through the ED monthly, the “learning curve” experienced by the new EDIS user may slow down patient care. In this study, we measured the impact of the “intern learning curve” on patient length of stay (LOS).

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed one year of patient care data, generated by a comprehensive EDIS in a single, urban, university-affiliated ED. Intern rotations began on the 23rd of each month and ended on the 22nd of the next month. Interns received a 1.5-hour orientation to the EDIS prior to starting their rotation; none had prior experience using the electronic system. Mean LOS (± standard error of the mean) for all patients treated by an intern were calculated for each day of the month. Values for similar numerical days from each month were combined and averaged over the year resulting in 31 discrete mean LOS values. The mean LOS on the first day of the intern rotation was compared with the mean LOS on the last day, using Student’s t-test.

Results: During the study period 9,780 patients were cared for by interns; of these, 7,616 (78%) were discharged from the ED and 2,164 (22%) were admitted to the hospital. The mean LOS for all patients on all days was 267 ± 1.8 minutes. There was no difference between the LOS on the first day of the rotation (263±9 minutes) and the last day of the rotation (276 ± 11 minutes, p > 0.9). In a multiple linear regression model, the day of the intern rotation was not associated with patient LOS, even after adjusting for the number of patients treated by interns and total ED census (β = -0.34, p = 0.11).

Conclusion: In this academic ED, where there is complete intern “turnover” every month, there was no discernible impact of the EDIS “learning curve” on patient LOS. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):329-332.]

Impact of Resident Physicians on Emergency Department Throughput

Objective: Evaluate the impact of adding emergency medicine residents to a medium-size urban hospital by comparing emergency department (ED) admission rate, total census, length of stay (LOS), and proportion of patients who left without being seen (LWBS).

Methods: Using the student t-test, the study compared commonly used ED metrics for a mid-sized urban hospital (annual census 43,000) for the four-month period prior to (March-June 2006) and after (March-June 2007) residents began providing 24-hour coverage at the institution.

Results: There was no significant difference in the number of patients seen (NPS) in the two time periods, 14,471 and 14,699 patients respectively (p=0.507). Analysis of the NPS and LWBS was not statistically significant. The percentage of patients who LWBS decreased with the presence of residents (6.5% to 5.8%, p=0.531), and the overall ED LOS was similar (210 min vs. 219 min, p=0.56). Admission rate data demonstrated that residents had a similar admission rate (17.5% vs. 18%, p =0.332).

Conclusion: ED flow depends on a number of variables with complex interactions. When comparing two similar time periods in consecutive years, the presence of resident physicians in the ED had no effect on the number of patients seen, patient LOS in the ED, or LWBS, thus supporting the conclusion that residents did not adversely affect the patient flow within the ED. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):333-335.]

Emergency Department Frequent User: Pilot Study of Intensive Case Management to Reduce Visits and Computed Tomography

Objective: Emergency department (ED) frequent users account for a large number of annual ED visits and often receive radiological studies as a part of their evaluation. We report a pilot study of a case management program for ED frequent users to reduce ED usage and radiation exposure.

Methods: This observational retrospective study was performed at a community hospital ED. Between May 2006 and April 2008, 96 patients were enrolled in a case management program and were followed through November 2008. The case management program consisted of a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social services and specialists in pain management and behavioral health. Patients were enrolled if they had five or more visits to the ED in the previous month, if a concern about a patient’s ED use was raised by staff, or if they were identified by the California prescription monitoring program. Case management addressed specific patient issues and assisted with receiving consistent outpatient care. The number of ED visits per patient and the number of radiological studies at each of these visits was recorded. When reviewing data for analysis, we used the number of total images in all computed tomography (CT) scans during the given time period.

Results: In the six months prior to enrollment, patients averaged 2.3 ED visits per patient per month. In the six months after enrollment, patients averaged 0.6 ED visits per patient per month (P<0.0001), and all visits after enrollment up to November 2008 averaged 0.4 visits per patient per month (P<0.0001). In the six months prior to enrollment, these patients averaged 25.6 CT images per patient per month. In the six months after enrollment, patients averaged 10.2 CT images per patient per month (P=0.001), and all CT images after enrollment up to November 2008 averaged 8.1 CT images per patient per month (P=0.0001). This represents a decrease in ED use by 83% and a decrease in radiation exposure by 67%.

Conclusion: Case management can significantly reduce ED use by frequent users, and can also decrease radiation exposure from diagnostic imaging. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4): 336-343].

Eliminating Amylase Testing from the Evaluation of Pancreatitis in the Emergency Department

Background: Alterations in serum biomarkers have been used to evaluate for pancreatitis in the emergency department (ED). Studies have shown lipase to be as sensitive and more specific than amylase in diagnosing pancreatitis and that amylase plus lipase does not improve accuracy over lipase alone.

Objective: To determine effects of interventions to decrease ordering of amylase in the evaluation of pancreatitis.

Methods: We conducted a pre- and post-cohort study. The number of amylase and lipase tests ordered in the ED was recorded prior to intervention to establish a baseline. We introduced an educational intervention to order lipase without amylase. A second intervention involved removing amylase from bedside order entry forms. We introduced a third intervention that included deleting amylase from trauma order forms, and decoupling amylase and lipase in the computer ordering system. We recorded the number of lipase and amylase tests in weekly aggregates for comparison to the baseline. Data analysis using students t-test, standard deviation and p values are reported.

Results: Before interventions 93% of patients had both tests ordered. Educational interventions resulted in a decrease to 91% (p=0.06) of co-ordering. Further interventions decreased the percentage of patients evaluated with both tests to 14.3%. This translates into a decrease in patient charges of approximately $350,000 a year.

Conclusion: Using simple structured interventions in the ED can reduce amylase ordering. Educational programming alone was not effective in significantly decreasing amylase ordering; however, education plus system-based interventions decreased amylase ordering. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):344-347.]

Use of Health Information Technology to Manage Frequently Presenting Emergency Department Patients

Objective: To determine if the effective use of Health Information Technologies (HIT) and the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) affects emergency department (ED) usage in a complicated frequently presenting patient population.

Methods: A retrospective, observational study of 45 patients enrolled in our Frequent User Program called Community Resources for Emergency Department Overuse (CREDO) between June 2005 and July 2007. The study was conducted at an urban hospital with greater than 95,000 annual visits. Patients served as their own historical controls. In this pre-post study, the pre-intervention control period was determined by the number of months the patient had been enrolled in the program. The pre- and post-intervention time periods were the same for each patient but varied between patients. The intervention included using HIT to identify the most frequently presenting patients and creating individualized care plans for those patients. The care plans were made available through the EMR to all healthcare providers. Study variables in this study intervention included ED charges, lab studies ordered, number of ED visits, length of stay (LOS), and Total Emergency Department Contact Time (TEDCT), which is the product of the number of visits and the LOS. We analyzed these variables using paired T-tests. This study was approved by the institutional review board.

Results: Forty-five patients were enrolled, but nine were excluded for no post enrollment visits; thus, statistical analysis was conducted with n=36. The ED charges decreased by 24% from $64,721 to $49,208 (p=0.049). The number of lab studies ordered decreased by 28% from 1847 to 1328 (p=0.04). The average number of ED visits/patient decreased by 25% from 67.4 to 50.5 (p=0.046). The TEDCT decreased by 39% from 443.7 hours to 270.6 hours (p=0.003).

Conclusion: In this pre-post analysis of an intervention targeting ED frequent users, the use of HIT and the EMR to identify patients and store easily accessible care plans significantly reduced ED charges, labs ordered, number of ED visits, and the TEDCT. [West J Emerg Med 2010; 11(4):348-353.]

Sgarbossa Criteria are Highly Specific for Acute Myocardial Infarction with Pacemakers

Objective: In 1996 Sgarbossa reviewed 17 ventricular-paced electrocardiograms (ECGs) in acute myocardial infarction (AMI) for signs of ischemia. Several characteristics of the paced ECG were predictive of AMI. We sought to evaluate the criteria in ventricular-paced ECGs in an emergency department (ED) cohort.

Methods: Ventricular-paced ECGs in patients with elevated cardiac markers within 12 hours of the ED ECG and a diagnosis of AMI were identified retrospectively (n=57) and compared with a control group of patients with ventricular-paced ECGs and negative cardiac markers (n=99). A blinded board certified cardiologist reviewed all ECGs for Sgarbossa criteria. This study was approved by the institutional review board.

Results: Application of Sgarbossa’s criteria to the paced ECGs revealed the following: 1) The sensitivity of “ST-segment elevation of 1 mm concordant with the QRS complex” was unable to be calculated as no ECG fit this criterion; 2) For “ST-segment depression of 1 mm in lead V1, V2, or V3,” the sensitivity was 19% (95% CI 11-31%), specificity 81% (95% CI 72-87%), with a likelihood ratio of 1.06 (0.63-1.64); 3) For “ST-segment elevation >5mm discordant with the QRS complex,” the sensitivity was 10% (95% CI 5-21%), specificity 99% (95% CI 93-99%), with a likelihood ratio of 5.2 (1.3 - 21).

Conclusion: In our review of ventricular-paced ECGs, the most clinically useful Sgarbossa criterion in identifying AMI was ST-segment elevation >5mm discordant with the QRS complex. This characteristic may prove helpful in identifying patients who may ultimately benefit from early aggressive AMI treatment strategies. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):354-357.]

Paget-Schroetter Syndrome: Review of Pathogenesis and Treatment of Effort Thrombosis

Effort thrombosis, or Paget-Schroetter Syndrome, refers to axillary-subclavian vein thrombosis associated with strenuous and repetitive activity of the upper extremities. Anatomical abnormalities at the thoracic outlet and repetitive trauma to the endothelium of the subclavian vein are key factors in its initiation and progression. The role of hereditary and acquired thrombophilias is unclear. The pathogenesis of effort thrombosis is thus distinct from other venous thromboembolic disorders. Doppler ultrasonography is the preferred initial test, while contrast venography remains the gold standard for diagnosis. Computed tomographic venography and magnetic resonance venography are comparable to conventional venography and are being increasingly used. Conservative management with anticoagulation alone is inadequate and leads to significant residual disability. An aggressive multimodal treatment strategy consisting of catheter-directed thrombolysis, with or without early thoracic outlet decompression, is essential for optimizing outcomes. Despite excellent insights into its pathogenesis and advances in treatment, a significant number of patients with effort thrombosis continue to be treated suboptimally. Hence, there is an urgent need for increasing physician awareness about risk factors, etiology and the management of this unique and relatively infrequent disorder. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):358-362.]

Emergency Department Activation of Interventional Cardiology to Reduce Door-to-Balloon Time

Background: Despite American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines, many hospitals have door-to-balloon times in excess of 90 minutes. Emergency Department (ED) activation of interventional cardiology has been described as an important strategy to reduce door-to-balloon time. However, prior studies on ED activation have been in suburban hospitals with door-to-balloon times near the ACC/AHA targeted times.

Objective: To determine if ED activation of interventional cardiology could significantly improve reperfusion times and reach the ACC/AHA target of 90 minutes or less in a safety net hospital, a Level I trauma center and teaching hospital served as a primarily uninsured and underinsured patient population with door-to-balloon times ranking in the lowest quartile of United States hospitals.

Methods: In this study, door-to balloon times before and after implementation of ED activation were compared by retrospective chart review.

Results: Eighty patients were included in the study, 48 before and 32 after ED activation of interventional cardiology. Median door-to-balloon time decreased from 163.5 minutes before to 130 minutes after ED activation, a significant difference of 33.5 minutes (p=0.028). Door-to-balloon time on nights, weekends and holidays decreased from a median of 165.5 minutes to 130 minutes, a reduction of 35.5 minutes, which also reached statistical significance (p=0.029).

Conclusion: ED activation of interventional cardiology produced a statistically significant reduction in door-to-balloon time. However, the reduction was not enough to achieve a door-to-balloon time of less than 90 minutes. Safety net hospitals with door-to-balloon times in the lowest quartile nationally may require multiple strategies to achieve targeted myocardial reperfusion times. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):363-366.]

Therapeutic Hypothermia Protocol in a Community Emergency Department

Objectives: Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) has been shown to improve survival and neurological outcome in patients resuscitated after out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) from ventricular fibrillation/ventricular tachycardia (VF/VT). We evaluated the effects of using a TH protocol in a large community hospital emergency department (ED) for all patients with neurological impairment after resuscitated OHCA regardless of presenting rhythm. We hypothesized improved mortality and neurological outcomes without increased complication rates.

Methods: Our TH protocol entails cooling to 33 C for 24 hours with an endovascular catheter. We studied patients treated with this protocol from November 2006 to November 2008. All non-pregnant, unresponsive adult patients resuscitated from any initial rhythm were included. Exclusion criteria were initial hypotension or temperature less than 30 C, trauma, primary intracranial event, and coagulopathy. Control patients treated during the 12 months before the institution of our TH protocol met the same inclusion and exclusion criteria. We recorded survival to hospital discharge, neurological status at discharge, and rates of bleeding, sepsis, pneumonia, renal failure, and dysrhythmias in the first 72 hours of treatment.

Results: Mortality rates were 71.1% (95% CI, 56-86%) for 38 patients treated with TH and 72.3% (95% CI 59-86%) for 47 controls. In the TH group, 8% of patients (95% CI, 0-17%) had a good neurological outcome on discharge, compared to 0 (95% CI 0-8%) in the control group. In 17 patients with VF/VT treated with TH, mortality was 47% (95% CI 21-74%) and 18% (95% CI 0-38%) had good neurological outcome; in 9 control patients with VF/VT, mortality was 67% (95% CI 28-100%), and 0% (95% CI 0-30%) had good neurological outcome. The groups were well-matched with respect to sex and age. Complication rates were similar or favored the TH group.

Conclusions: Instituting a TH protocol for OHCA patients with any presenting rhythm appears safe in a community hospital ED. A trend towards improved neurological outcome in TH patients was seen, but did not reach significance. Patients with VF appeared to derive more benefit from TH than patients with other rhythms. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):367-372.]

Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Predicts Mortality in Acute Coronary Syndrome without Congestive Heart Failure

Introduction: High levels of inflammatory biochemical markers are associated with an increased risk among patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). The objective of the current study was to evaluate the prognostic significance of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) among ACS patients with no clinical or radiological evidence of congestive heart failure (CHF).

Methods: Consecutive patients with ACS and no clinical or radiological evidence of CHF in the emergency department (ED) were included in the study. The endpoint was hospital mortality. Categorical variables were compared by calculating proportions with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and by using the Fisher Exact test. Continuous variables were compared by using the Wilcoxon Rank Sum test. The association of the variables with hospital mortality was assessed by using the logistic regression analysis.

Results: The study included 196 patients (60 years; female 32.6 %). Six patients (3.1 %) died in hospital and 22 patients (11.2 %) had SIRS on admission to the ED. The following variables were predictors of hospital mortality: age with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.1 (95% CI, 1-1.2) for each one additional year (p <0.01), systolic arterial pressure with an OR 0.9 (95% CI, 0.9-1), diastolic arterial pressure with an OR 0.9 (95% CI, 0.8-1) for each one additional mmHg (p < 0.01), respiratory rate with an OR 1.5 (95% CI, 1.2-1.9) for each one additional breath per minute (p < 0.01), and SIRS with an OR 9 (95% CI, 1.7-47.8) (p 0.02). Because of the small number of events, it was not possible to assess the independence of these risk factors.

Conclusion: SIRS was a marker of increased risk of hospital mortality among patients with ACS and no clinical or radiological evidence of CHF. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):373-378.]

Echocardiography to Supplement Stress Electrocardiography in Emergency Department Chest Pain Patients

Introduction: Chest pain (CP) patients in the Emergency Department (ED) present a diagnostic dilemma, with a low prevalence of coronary disease but grave consequences with misdiagnosis. A common diagnostic strategy involves ED cardiac monitoring while excluding myocardial necrosis, followed by stress testing. We sought to describe the use of stress echocardiography (echo) at our institution, to identify cardiac pathology compared with stress electrocardiography (ECG) alone.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study of 57 urban ED Chest Pain Unit (CPU) patients from 2002-2005 with stress testing suggesting ischemia. Our main descriptive outcome was proportion and type of discordant findings between stress ECG testing and stress echo. The secondary outcome was whether stress echo results appeared to change management.

Results: Thirty-four of 57 patients [59.7%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 46.9-72.4%] had stress echo results discordant with stress ECG results. The most common discordance was an abnormal stress ECG with a normal stress echo (n=17/57, 29.8%, CI 17.9-41.7%), followed by normal stress ECG but with reversible regional wall-motion abnormality on stress echo (n = 10/57, 17.5%, CI 7.7-27.4%). The remaining seven patients (12.3%, CI 3.8-20.8%) had non-diagnostic stress ECG due to sub-maximal effort. Stress echo showed reversible wall-motion abnormality in two, and five were normal. Twenty-five of the 34 patients (73.5%, CI 56.8-85.4%) with discordant results had a different diagnostic strategy than predicted from their stress ECG alone.

Conclusion: The addition of echo to stress ECG testing in ED CPU patients altered diagnosis in 34/57 (59.7%, CI 46.9-72.4%) patients, and appeared to change management in 25/57 (43.9%, CI 31.8-57.6%) patients. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):379-383.]

Coronary Disease in Emergency Department Chest Pain Patients with Recent Negative Stress Testing

Background: Cardiac stress tests for diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD) are incompletely sensitive and specific.

Objective: We examined the frequency of significant CAD in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with chest pain who have had a recent negative or inconclusive (<85% of predicted maximum heart rate) cardiac stress test.

Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of patients identified from ED and cardiology registries at the study hospital. We included patients presenting to the ED with a chief complaint of chest pain, with a negative cardiac stress test in the past three years as the last cardiac test, and hospital admission. One-hundred sixty-four patients met the inclusion criteria. Their admission was reviewed for diagnosis of CAD by positive serum troponin, percutaneous coronary intervention, or positive stress test while an inpatient.

Results: Of 164 patients, 122 (74.4%, 95% CI 67.7, 81.1) had a negative stress test prior to the index admission, while 42 (25.6%, 95% CI 18.9, 32.3) had otherwise normal but inconclusive stress tests. Thirty-four (20.7%, 95% CI 14.4,27.0) of the included patients were determined to have CAD. Twenty-five of the 122 patients (20.5%, 95% CI 13.3, 27.7) had negative pre-admission stress tests and nine of 42 patients (21.4%, 95% CI 9.0, 33.8) had inclusive stress tests of CAD. A statistical comparison between these two proportions showed no significant difference (p = .973).

Conclusion: Due to inadequate sensitivity, negative non-invasive cardiac stress tests should not be used to rule out CAD. Patients with negative stress tests are just as likely to have CAD as patients with inconclusive stress tests. [West J Emerg Med 2010; 11(4):384-388.]

Intestinal Angioedema Misdiagnosed as Recurrent Episodes of Gastroenteritis

Emergency physicians (EP) frequently encounter angioedema involving the lips and tongue. However, angioedema from Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibitors or hereditary angioedema (HAE) can present with gastrointestinal symptoms due to bowel wall involvement. EPs should begin to consider this clinical entity as a potential cause for abdominal pain and associated gastrointestinal symptoms given the common use of medications that can precipitate angioedema. We report a case of a 34-year-old woman who presented with abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea due to an acute exacerbation of HAE. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):391-394.]

A Frail Patient with Abdominal Pain

Volvulus is a frequent condition in patient presenting in emergency department (ED) with abdominal pain. While cecal volvulus occurs more often in young patients, sigmoid volvulus is more common in elderly patients. We present the case of a frail patient with a large sigmoid volvulus.[West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(4):400-401.]