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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 12, Issue 2, 2011

Volume 12 Issue 2 2011

Pediatrics

Challenging the Pathophysiologic Connection between Subdural Hematoma, Retinal Hemorrhage and Shaken Baby Syndrome

Child abuse experts use diagnostic findings of subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhages as near-pathognomonic findings to diagnose shaken baby syndrome. This article reviews the origin of this link and casts serious doubt on the specificity of the pathophysiologic connection. The forces required to cause brain injury were derived from an experiment of high velocity impacts on monkeys, that generated forces far above those which might occur with a shaking mechanism. These forces, if present, would invariably cause neck trauma, which is conspicuously absent in most babies allegedly injured by shaking. Subdural hematoma may also be the result of common birth trauma, complicated by prenatal vitamin D deficiency, which also contributes to the appearance of long bone fractures commonly associated with child abuse. Retinal hemorrhage is a non-specific finding that occurs with many causes of increased intracranial pressure, including infection and hypoxic brain injury. The evidence challenging these connections should prompt emergency physicians and others who care for children to consider a broad differential diagnosis before settling on occult shaking as the de-facto cause. While childhood non-accidental trauma is certainly a serious problem, the wide exposure of this information may have the potential to exonerate some innocent care-givers who have been convicted, or may be accused, of child abuse. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):144-158.]

  • 2 supplemental files

Management of Pediatric Skin Abscesses in Pediatric, General Academic and Community Emergency Departments

Objectives: To compare the evaluation and management of pediatric cutaneous abscess patients at three different emergency department (ED) settings.

Method: We conducted a retrospective cohort study at two academic pediatric hospital EDs, a general academic ED and a community ED in 2007, with random sampling of 100 patients at the three academic EDs and inclusion of 92 patients from the community ED. Eligible patients were ≤18 years who had a cutaneous abscess. We recorded demographics, predisposing conditions, physical exam findings, incision and drainage procedures, therapeutics and final disposition. Laboratory data were reviewed for culture results and antimicrobial sensitivities. For subjects managed as outpatients from the ED, we determined where patients were instructed to follow up and, using electronic medical records, ascertained the proportion of patients who returned to the ED for further management.

Result: Of 392 subjects, 59% were female and the median age was 7.7 years. Children at academic sites had larger abscesses compared to community patients, (3.5 versus 2.5 cm, p=0.02). Abscess incision and drainage occurred in 225 (57%) children, with the lowest rate at the academic pediatric hospital EDs (51%) despite the relatively larger abscess size. Procedural sedation and the collection of wound cultures were more frequent at the academic pediatric hospital and the general academic EDs. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) prevalence did not differ among sites; however, practitioners at the academic pediatric hospital EDs (92%) and the general academic ED (86%) were more likely to initiate empiric MRSA antibiotic therapy than the community site (71%), (p<0.0001). At discharge, children who received care at the community ED were more likely to be given a prescription for a narcotic (23%) and told to return to the ED for ongoing wound care (65%). Of all sites, the community ED also had the highest percentage of follow-up visits (37%).

Conclusion: Abscess management varied among the three settings, with more conservative antibiotic selection and greater implementation of procedural sedation at academic centers and higher prescription rates for narcotics, self-referrals for ongoing care and patient follow-up visits at the community ED. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):159-167.]

Test Characteristics of the Urinalysis to Predict Urologic Injury in Children

Objective: To use receiver operator characteristic curve methodology to determine the test characteristics of microscopic hematuria for identifying urologic injuries in children who underwent computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis as part of a trauma evaluation.

Methods: We performed a retrospective medical record review of all children from 0 to 12 years of age who presented to our pediatric emergency department within a Level 1 trauma center, had an abdominal and pelvic CT and a microscopic urinalysis as part of an initial evaluation for trauma. Urologic injury was defined as any injury to the kidneys, ureters or bladder. We defined hematuria from the microscopic urinalysis and reported by the clinical laboratory as the exact number of red blood cells per high power field (RBC/hpf).

Results: Of the 502 children in the study group, 17 (3%; 95% CI [2%-5.4%]) had evidence of urologic injury on the abdominal or pelvic CT. Microscopic urinalysis for those children with urologic injury ranged from 0 to15,544 RBC/hpf. The remaining 485 children without urologic injury had a range of hematuria from 0 to 20,596 RBC/hpf. A receiver operating characteristic curve was generated and the area under the curve is 0.796 (95% CI [0.666-0.925]).

Conclusion: If the abdominal and pelvic CT is used as the criterion standard for identifying urologic trauma, the microscopic urinalysis has moderate discriminatory power to predict urologic injury. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):168-172.]

Public Health

Online Health Information Impacts Patients’ Decisions to Seek Emergency Department Care

Objective: To investigate the impact of online health information (OHI) and patients’ decisions to seek emergency department (ED) care.

Methods: We conducted a survey of a convenience sample of 489 ambulatory patients at an academic ED between February and September 2006. The primary measure was the prevalence of Internet use, and the secondary outcome was the impact of OHI on patients’ decision to seek ED care.

Results: The study group comprised 175 (38%) males. Mean age was 33 years old; 222 (45.4%) patients were white, 189 (38.7%) patients were African American, and 33 (6.7%) were Hispanic. 92.6% had Internet access, and 94.5% used email; 58.7% reported that OHI was easy to locate, while 49.7% felt that it was also easy to understand. Of the subjects who had Internet access, 15.1% (1.6, 95% CI 1.3-2.0) stated that they had changed their decision to seek care in the ED.

Conclusion: This study suggests that Internet access in an urban adult ED population may mirror reported Internet use among American adults. Many ED patients report that they are able to access and understand online health information, as well as use it to make decisions about seeking emergency care. [West J Emerg Med. 2011; 12(2):174-177.]

Rural-Urban Disparities in Emergency Department Intimate Partner Violence Resources

Objective: Little is known about availability of resources for managing intimate partner violence (IPV) at rural hospitals. We assessed differences in availability of resources for IPV screening and management between rural and urban emergency departments (EDs) in Oregon. Methods: We conducted a standardized telephone interview of Oregon ED directors and nurse managers on six IPV-related resources: official screening policies, standardized screening tools, public displays regarding IPV, on-site advocacy, intervention checklists and regular clinician education. We used chi-square analysis to test differences in reported resource availability between urban and rural EDs. Results: Of 57 Oregon EDs, 55 (96%) completed the survey. A smaller proportion of rural EDs, compared to urban EDs, reported official screening policies (74% vs. 100%, p=0.01), standardized screening instruments (21% vs. 55%, p=0.01), clinician education (38% vs. 70%, p=0.02) or on-site violence advocacy (44% vs. 95%, p<0.001). Twenty-seven percent of rural EDs had none or one of the studied resources, 50% had two or three, and 24% had four or more (vs. 0%, 35%, and 65% in urban EDs, p=0.003). Small, remote rural hospitals had fewer resources than larger, less remote rural hospitals or urban hospitals. Conclusion: Rural EDs have fewer resources for addressing IPV. Further work is needed to identify specific barriers to obtaining resources for IPV management that can be used in all hospital settings. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):178-183.]

Emergency Department Administration

Applying Lean: Implementation of a Rapid Triage and Treatment System

Objective: Emergency department (ED) crowding creates issues with patient satisfaction, long wait times and leaving the ED without being seen by a doctor (LWBS). Our objective was to evaluate how applying Lean principles to develop a Rapid Triage and Treatment (RTT) system affected ED metrics in our community hospital.

Methods: Using Lean principles, we made ED process improvements that led to the RTT system. Using this system, patients undergo a rapid triage with low-acuity patients seen and treated by a physician in the triage area. No changes in staffing, physical space or hospital resources occurred during the study period. We then performed a retrospective, observational study comparing hospital electronic medical record data six months before and six months after implementation of the RTT system.

Results: ED census was 30,981 in the six months prior to RTT and 33,926 after. Ambulance arrivals, ED patient acuity and hospital admission rates were unchanged throughout the study periods. Mean ED length of stay was longer in the period before RTT (4.2 hours, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.2-4.3; standard deviation [SD] = 3.9) than after (3.6 hours, 95% CI = 3.6-3.7; SD = 3.7). Mean ED arrival to physician start time was 62.2 minutes (95% CI = 61.5-63.0; SD = 58.9) prior to RTT and 41.9 minutes (95% CI = 41.5-42.4; SD = 30.9) after. The LWBS rate for the six months prior to RTT was 4.5% (95% CI = 3.1-5.5) and 1.5% (95% CI = 0.6-1.8) after RTT initiation.

Conclusion: Our experience shows that changes in ED processes using Lean thinking and available resources can improve efficiency. In this community hospital ED, use of an RTT system decreased patient wait times and LWBS rates. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):184-191.]

The Financial Impact of Emergency Department Crowding

Objective: The economic benefits of reducing emergency department (ED) crowding are potentially substantial as they may decrease hospital length of stay. Hospital administrators and public officials may therefore be motivated to implement crowding protocols. We sought to identify a potential cost of ED crowding by evaluating the contribution of excess ED length of stay (LOS) to overall hospital length of stay. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of administrative data of adult patients from two urban hospitals (one county and one university) in Brooklyn, New York from 2006-2007. Data was provided by each facility. Extrapolating from prior research (Krochmal and Riley, 2005), we determined the increase in total hospital LOS due to extended ED lengths of stay, and applied cost and charge analyses for the two separate facilities. Results: We determined that 6,205 (5.0%) admitted adult patients from the county facility and 3,017 (3.4%) patients from the university facility were held in the ED greater than one day over a one-year period. From prior research, it has been estimated that each of these patient’s total hospital length of stay was increased on average by 11.7% (0.61 days at the county facility, and 0.71 days at the university facility). The increased charges over one year at the county facility due to the extended ED LOS was therefore approximately $9.8 million, while the increased costs at the university facility were approximately $3.9 million. Conclusion: Based on extrapolations from Krochmal and Riley applied to two New York urban hospitals, the county hospital could potentially save $9.8 million in charges and the university hospital $3.9 million in costs per year if they eliminate ED boarding of adult admitted patients by improving movement to the inpatient setting. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):192-197.]

Impact of an Expeditor on Emergency Department on Patient Throughput

Objective: Our hypothesis was that an individual whose primary role was to assist with patient throughput would decrease emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS), elopements and ambulance diversion. The objective of this study was to measure how the use of an expeditor affected these throughput metrics.

Methods: This pre- and post-intervention study analyzed ED patients > 21-years-old between June 2008 and June 2009, at a level one trauma center in an academic medical center with an annual ED census of 40,000 patients. We created the expeditor position as our study intervention in December 2008, by modifying the job responsibilities of an existing paramedic position. An expeditor was on duty from 1PM-1AM daily. The pre-intervention period was June to November 2008, and the post-intervention period was January to June 2009. We used multivariable to assess the impact of the expeditor on throughput metrics after adjusting for confounding variables.

Results: We included a total of 13,680 visits in the analysis. There was a significant decrease in LOS after expeditor implementation by 0.4 hours, despite an increased average daily census (109 vs. 121, p<0.001). The expeditor had no impact on elopements. The probability that the ED experienced complete ambulance diversion during a 24-hour period decreased from 55.2% to 16.0% (OR:0.17, 95%CI:0.05-0.67).

Conclusion: The use of an expeditor was associated with a decreased LOS and ambulance diversion. These findings suggest that EDs may be able to improve patient flow by using expeditors. This tool is under the control of the ED and does not require larger buy-in, resources, or overall hospital changes. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):198-203.]

Predicting Patient Patterns in Veterans Administration Emergency Departments

Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospitals represent a unique patient population within the healthcare system; for example, they have few female and pediatric patients, typically do not see many trauma cases and often do not accept ambulance runs. As such, veteran-specific studies are required to understand the particular needs and stumbling blocks of VA emergency department (ED) care. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the demographics of patients served at VA EDs and compare them to the national ED population at large. Our analysis reveals that the VA population exhibits a similar set of common chief complaints to the national ED population (and in similar proportions) and yet differs from the general population in many ways. For example, the VA treats an older, predominantly male population, and encounters a much lower incidence of trauma. Perhaps most significantly, the incidence of psychiatric disease at the VA is more than double that of the general population (10% vs. 4%) and accounts for a significant proportion of admissions (23%). Furthermore, the overall admission percentage at the VA hospital is nearly three times that of the ED population at large (36% versus 13%). This paper provides valuable insight into the make-up of a veteran’s population and can guide staffing and resource allocation accordingly. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):204-207.]

Women's Health

Does Pelvic Exam in the Emergency Department Add Useful Information?

Objective: Physicians are taught that the pelvic exam is a key part of the evaluation of a woman presenting with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding. However, the exam is time consuming and invasive, and its use in the emergency department (ED) has not been prospectively evaluated. We evaluated how often the findings of the pelvic exam changed management in a cohort of consecutive female patients presenting with acute abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding.

Methods: We enrolled women who required a pelvic exam together with the providers caring for them in an academic ED from September 2004 to August 2005. We collected the results of the general history and physical exam. The provider was asked to predict the findings of the pelvic exam, and these were compared with the actual findings of the exam.

Results: One hundred eighty-three patients were prospectively entered into the study. When compared with predicted findings, the pelvic exam was as expected in 131 patients (72%). In a further 40 patients (22%), the findings of the pelvic exam were not as predicted, but resulted in no change in the clinical plan. In 12 cases (6%) the exam revealed a finding that was both unexpected and changed the clinical plan. Only one of these patients was admitted. Of the 24 patients who were admitted, four had a pelvic exam that revealed unexpected results, but only one of these cases caused the physician to change the care planned for the patient.

Conclusion: In 94% of women with acute abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, the results of the pelvic exam were either predictable or had no effect on the clinical plan. This suggests that there may be a subset of women with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding in whom a pelvic exam may safely be deferred. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):208-212.]

Molar Pregnancy with False Negative β-hCG Urine in the Emergency Department

This case describes an atypical presentation of molar pregnancy in an emergency department patient with abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. The patient demonstrated clinical features of hydatidiform mole, including acute discharge of a large, grape-like vesicular mass, despite multiple negative urine pregnancy tests. These false-negative qualitative human chorionic gonadotropin assays were likely caused by the “high-dose hook effect” and may have delayed proper care of the patient, who displayed pulmonary choriocarcinoma at the time of diagnosis. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):213-215.]

Warfarin Overdose in a Breast-feeding Woman

We describe a case of a breastfeeding woman with an accidental warfarin overdose resulting in a markedly elevated prothrombin time. The breast-fed infant was evaluated and tested for ill effects. We discuss the use of warfarin while breast-feeding. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):216-217.]

Cardiology

Takotsubo Syndrome in African American vs. Non-African American Women

Objectives: Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) is a reversible cause of heart failure rarely described in African-American patients. This study aimed to compare and contrast the clinical characteristics of TTS in African-American (AA) and non-African-American (NAA) patients.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the charts of eight patients (four AA and four NAA) diagnosed with TTS, between June 2006 and August 2008, in four different teaching hospitals: St Michael’s Medical Center, St Joseph’s Medical Center, Trinitas hospital and St Louis’ University Hospital. We compared the patients with regard to presenting symptoms, precipitating stressors, electrocardiographic findings, troponin levels, ejection fraction and in-hospital course.

Results: All patients were females (mean age 64 for AA and 67 for NAA). All patients experienced chest pain and had elevated troponin levels. Two AA and three NAA patients had associated shortness of breath and one NAA had syncope. All AA and three NAA had T-wave inversions. Three NAA and one AA had ST segment elevation. Three patients in both groups developed prolongation of the QT interval. Coronary angiograms did not reveal any significant obstructive coronary artery disease. Three patients, all NAA, needed hemodynamic support during their hospital stay but none died.

Conclusion: AA and NAA women with TTS have similar presenting symptoms but may differ in the electrocardiographic findings and in-hospital course of the disease. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):218-223.]

Myocardial Ischemia with Penetrating Thoracic Trauma

Penetrating trauma is a rare cause of myocardial infarction. Our report describes a 47- year-old female who presented with a gunshot wound from a shotgun and had an ST-elevation myocardial infarction. The patient received emergent coronary angiography, which demonstrated no evidence of coronary atherosclerotic disease but did show occlusion of a marginal vessel secondary to a pellet. The patient was managed medically for the myocardial infarction without cardiac sequelae. Patients with penetrating trauma to the chest should be evaluated for myocardial ischemia. Electrocardiography, echocardiography and cardiac angiography play vital roles in evaluating these patients and helping to guide management. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):224-226.]

Neurology

Impact of Cardiac Contractility during Cerebral Blood Flow in Ischemia

Objective: In cerebral regions affected by ischemia, intrinsic vascular autoregulation is often lost. Blood flow delivery depends upon cardiac function and may be influenced by neuro-endocrine mediated myocardial suppression. Our objective is to evaluate the relation between ejection fraction (EF) and transcranial doppler (TCD) peak systolic velocities (PSV) in patients with cerebral ischemic events.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study from an existing TCD registry. We evaluated patients admitted within 24 hours of onset of a focal neurological deficit who had an echocardiogram and TCD performed within 72 hours of admission.

Results: We identified 58 patients from March to October 2003. Eighty-one percent (n=47) had a hospital discharge diagnosis of ischemic stroke and 18.9% (n=11) had a diagnosis of transient ischemic attack. Fourteen patients had systolic dysfunction (EF50%) compared to those with systolic dysfunction (EF<50%) was as follows: middle cerebral artery 62.0 + 28.6 cm/s vs. 51.0 + 23.3 cm/s, p=0.11; anterior cerebral artery 52.1 + 21.6 cm/s vs. 45.9 + 22.7 cm/s, p=0.28; internal carotid artery 56.5 + 20.1 cm/s vs. 46.4 + 18.4 cm/s, p=0.04; ophthalmic artery 18.6 + 7.2 cm/s vs. 15.3 + 5.2 cm/s, p=0.11; vertebral artery 34.0 + 13.9 cm/s vs. 31.6 + 15.0 cm/s, p=0.44.

Conclusion: Cerebral blood flow in the internal carotid artery territory appears to be higher in cerebral ischemia patients with preserved left ventricular contractility. Our study was unable to differentiate pre-existing cardiac dysfunction from neuro-endocrine mediated myocardial stunning. Future research is necessary to better understand heart-brain interactions in this setting and to further explore the underlying mechanisms and consequences of neuro-endocrine mediated cardiac dysfunction. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):227-232.]

Vertebrobasilar Artery Occlusion

The presentation of vertebrobasilar artery occlusion varies with the cause of occlusion and location of ischemia. This often results in delay in diagnosis. Areas of the brain supplied by the posterior circulation are difficult to visualize and usually require angiography or magnetic resonance imaging. Intravenous thrombolysis and local-intra arterial thrombolysis are the most common treatment approaches used. Recanalization of the occluded vessel significantly improves morbidity and mortality. Here we present a review of the literature and a case of a patient with altered mental status caused by vertebrobasilar artery occlusion. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):233-239.]

Artifact Simulating Fracture on Cervical Spine Computed Tomography

We present the case of a 31-year-old trauma patient with computed tomography concerning significant C3-C4 subluxation. The abnormality is due to an artifact with which emergency physicians should be aware. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):240-241.]

Clinical Practice

Comparison of Pressures Applied by Digital Tourniquets in the Emergency Department

Background: Digital tourniquets used in the emergency department have been scrutinized due to complications associated with their use, including neurovascular injury secondary to excessive tourniquet pressure and digital ischemia caused by a forgotten tourniquet. To minimize these risks, a conspicuous tourniquet that applies the least amount of pressure necessary to maintain hemostasis is recommended.

Objective: To evaluate the commonly used tourniquet methods, the Penrose drain, rolled glove, the Tourni-cot and the T-Ring, to determine which applies the lowest pressure while consistently preventing digital perfusion.

Methods: We measured the circumference of selected digits of 200 adult males and 200 adult females to determine the adult finger size range. We then measured the pressure applied to four representative finger sizes using a pressure monitor and assessed the ability of each method to prevent digital blood flow with a pulse oximeter.

Results: We selected four representative finger sizes: 45mm, 65mm, 70mm, and 85mm to test the different tourniquet methods. All methods consistently prevented digital perfusion. The highest pressure recorded for the Penrose drain was 727 mmHg, the clamped rolled glove 439, the unclamped rolled glove 267, Tourni-cot 246, while the T-Ring had the lowest at 151 mmHg and least variable pressures of all methods.

Conclusion: All tested methods provided adequate hemostasis. Only the Tourni-cot and T-Ring provided hemostasis at safe pressures across all digit sizes with the T-Ring having a lower overall average pressure. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):242-249.]

Test Characteristics of Urine Dipstick for Identifying Renal Insufficiency in Patients with Diabetes

Objective: To evaluate the test characteristics of the urine dipstick as a screening tool for elevated serum creatinine in patients with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: Patients with diabetes over the age of 18 who presented to the ED for any complaint over a three-month study period were considered eligible for participation in this study. A finger-stick blood glucose of ≥250 mg/dL at triage was used to confirm the diagnosis of uncontrolled diabetes. After obtaining written consent, each patient had a urine dip performed and a chemistry panel drawn. Any level of proteinuria on the urine dip was considered to be a positive test. Based on the laboratory and clinical guidelines at our institution, renal insufficiency was defined as creatinine concentration of greater than 1.3 mg/dL.

Results: Three Hundred ninety-three confirmed patients with uncontrolled diabetes were enrolled in this study, and 49 of these (12.5%) were found to have renal insufficiency. The sensitivity and specificity of the urine dip for predicting renal insufficiency were 69.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 54.6-81.7%) and 57.8% (95%CI 52.4-63.1%) respectively. The positive predictive value was 19% (95%CI 13.5-25.5%), and the negative predictive value was 93% (95%CI 88.7-96%). The positive likelihood ratio was 1.65 (95%CI 1.32-2.06) and the negative likelihood ratio was 0.53 (95%CI 0.34-0.81).

Conclusion: In this cohort of patients with uncontrolled diabetes, the test characteristics of the urine dipstick make it a poor screening tool for renal insufficiency in the ED. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):250-253.]

Those Who Can, Do and They Teach Too: Faculty Clinical Productivity and Teaching

Objective: Academic emergency physicians (EPs) often feel that the demands of clinical productivity, income generation, and patient satisfaction conflict with educational objectives. The objective of this study was to explore whether the quality of faculty bedside teaching of residents correlated with high clinical productivity, measured by relative value units (RVUs). We also explored the strategies of high-performing faculty for optimal RVU generation and teaching performance.

Methods: We performed a mixed method study using quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the relationship between RVUs, patient satisfaction, and teaching performance. We examined the relationship between teaching performance ratings, patient satisfaction, and RVUs per hour using correlations. Following this initial analysis, we conducted semi-structured interviews with the eight faculty members who have the highest clinical (RVU) and educational productivity ratings to learn more about their strategies for success. Our Institutional Review Board approved this study.

Results: We correlated resident evaluations of faculty with RVUs billed per hour. We conducted semi-structured interviews of faculty who led in both RVU productivity and resident evaluations. From these interviews, several themes emerged. When asked about how they excel in billing, most said that they pay attention to dictating a thorough chart on every patient and try to “stay busy” throughout their entire shift. When asked how they excel at resident education, most leading faculty said that they try to find a “teaching moment” and find small “clinical pearls” to pass along. Nevertheless, all eight leading faculty members believe that as the emphasis on billing productivity increases, resident and student education will suffer.

Conclusion: Contrary to the opinion of some physicians, faculty can excel at both clinical productivity and resident education. This study found that highly efficient clinical productivity correlated with excellent resident teaching. This high level of performance did not appear to be at the expense of other important measures such as patient satisfaction or student teaching. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):254-257.]

Extra-adrenal Pheochromocytoma in an Adolescent

A 17-year-old male with symptoms of headache and diaphoresis presented to the emergency department. He had eight months of noted hypertension attributed to medications. On arrival his blood pressure was 229/117mmHg, and he was ill-appearing. His blood pressure was managed aggressively, and he was diagnosed with extra-adrenal pheochromocytoma by computed tomography. He eventually underwent resection of the mass. Children with severe, symptomatic hypertension should be evaluated for pheochromocytoma. Although rare, it is curable. Failure to diagnose carries a high risk of morbidity and mortality. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(2):258-261.]

Superior Mesenteric Vein Thrombosis Mimicking Acute Appendicitis

Abdominal pain is one of the most common presenting complaints to the emergency department. Mesenteric venous thrombosis represents an important cause to consider in patients with acute abdominal pain. The diagnosis is often delayed, and cases traditionally have been identified either at laparotomy or at autopsy. In this case, we describe a 21-year-old female with acute onset of right lower quadrant pain attributable to a hyperhomocysteinemia related non-occlusive superior mesenteric vein thrombosis. This case highlights how the use of computed tomography in select cases can lead to earlier recognition of this condition and increasingly allow for non-surgical treatment. [West J Emerg Med 2011;12(2):262-265.]