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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 8, Issue 2, 2007

Volume 8 Issue 2 2007


A Retrospective Analysis of Emergency Department Ultrasound for Acute Appendicitis

OBJECTIVES: To determine whether emergency physicians (EPs) who have skills in the other applications of ultrasound can apply these in appendicitis diagnosis. METHODS: EPs did not have focused training in bedside ultrasound for appendicitis. We identified patients receiving an ED bedside ultrasound evaluation for appendicitis from our ultrasound log. Criterion reference was radiology ultrasound (RUS), CT scan, or pathology report. RESULTS: We performed 155 ED ultrasounds for appendicitis. There were 27/155 cases where the ED ultrasound was true positive and agreed with pathology (sensitivity = 39%, 95% CI 28 – 52%). In 42/155 (27%) the ED ultrasound was non-diagnostic (false negative) with pathology positive. In 77 cases the ED ultrasound was true negative with non-visualization of the appendix in concert with non-visualization by RUS or CT scan (specificity = 90%, 95% CI 81-95%). In nine cases (6%), ED ultrasound was falsely positive, compared to CT scan with surgical consult. CONCLUSION: ED ultrasound by EPs prior to focused appendicitis ultrasound training is insufficiently accurate.

The Use of Bedside Ultrasound in Cardiac Arrest

BACKGROUND: The decision to terminate resuscitative measures in the setting of cardiac arrest is based on several criteria, some of which are subjective. Ultrasound in the emergency department has potentially added an objective data point to assist in this decision. OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine if emergency physicians who were trained in the use of ultrasound use it in cardiac arrest scenarios and if so, what effect they believe it has on the duration of the resuscitative event. Our hypothesis was that emergency physicians terminate resuscitative efforts sooner with visualization of cardiac standstill and feel more comfortable in doing so. METHODS: The ultrasound training program at Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center began in 1995. We surveyed all graduates of the residency program since that date about their use of ultrasound in cardiac arrest. RESULTS: Surveys were mailed to 154 practicing emergency physicians. One hundred and sixteen surveys (75%) surveys were returned. During residency, the majority of individuals (68%) reported that they had used ultrasound during at least 10 cardiac arrests. It was used to search for a reversible cause of cardiac arrest (pericardial effusion) or for documentation of cardiac standstill. Ninety-one percent of individuals used the ultrasound result as an aid in deciding when to terminate resuscitative efforts and 59% believed it shortened their resuscitation time. After graduation, only 53% of individuals in this study have ultrasound available in their daily clinical practice. For these individuals, 60% use it in more than 50% of their cardiac arrest situations. Ultrasound was used to shorten the code time (63%) as well as to reassure and confirm the presence of cardiac standstill for the physician (88%) and the resuscitation team (59%). CONCLUSION: Most emergency physicians in this cohort who have access to ultrasound use it in cardiac arrest cases and believe that it shortens code times.

Chlorobenzylidenemalonitrile Gas Exposure from A Novelty Personal-Protection Gun

We present an unusual case of chlorobenzylidenemalonitrile (CS) tear-gas exposure from the unwitting discharge of a personal-protection handgun loaded with CS gas. The gun was in a bag of toys purchased from a local thrift store and was discharged by a child. The responding paramedic presumptively identified the substance as CS based solely on personal experience. This recognition led to suboptimal field management of the incident with the paramedic failing to follow the standard operating procedures for an unknown chemical exposure. As this was a benign agent, there were no serious consequences. This case highlights the pre-hospital and emergency department challenges associated with the management of an unknown chemical exposure and the potential consequences if the chemical is a toxic substance. A methodical approach following established protocols can reduce the potential for negative outcomes. Review of the literature found no other report of CS gas exposure from such a personal-protection weapon.