17 Jul

submitted by Amit Kumar, M.D.

Generalized seizure

-Large parts of bilateral cerebral hemispheres involved
-LOC for the most-part. Post-ictal state (headache, drowsiness) common.
-Examples: Tonic-clonic (grand mal), absence (petit mal), myoclonic, tonic, atonic

Partial seizure

-Simple partial: limited to focal area in single cerebral hemisphere. Usually no post-ictal period.
-Complex partial: simple partial + LOC. Generally associated with an aura (smell, taste, visual hallucination, emotion). Post-ictal period common.

Status epilepticus

-Continuous seizure lasting over 5 mins/more than two discrete seizures without interval recovery

EtOh-withdrawal seizure

-Typically generalized, may begin within 6h of cessation/decreased consumption
-“Kindling phenomenon”: risk and severity of seizure increases (and threshold decreases) with each withdrawal episode

Febrile seizure

-Seizure in child (~3 mo-6y) with associated fever (>38C), without evidence of intracranial infection or other defined cause
-Types: Simple: Generalized, last <15 mins, don’t recur in 24h period; Complex: Focal, last >15 mins, recur in 24h period
-Subsequent epilepsy risk: simple (1-2%, only slightly above general population), complex (~5-10%)


-ABCs, airway, O2, monitor
-If intubating: benzo for induction and short-acting paralytic (succ) to not mask ongoing seizures. Post-intubation sedation: benzo/propofol gtt
-Labs (check for electrolyte disarray, anemia), infectious workup, home anticonvulsant levels, neuroimaging prn
-Check POCG (dextrose for hypoglycemia), probe on abdomen (Mg for eclampsia), check drug-list (Vit B6 for INH toxicity)


-Benzodiazepines (enhance GABA-mediated neuronal inhibition): lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), midazolam (Versed)
-Phenytoin (reduces repetitive firing of action potentials via Na-channels). Administer IV/PO (rare)
-Fosphenytoin. Administer IV/IM
-Phenobarbital (enhances GABA)
-Valproic acid (increases GABA)

Seizure abortive meds


-Nelson KB, Ellenberg JH. Predictors of epilepsy in children who have experienced febrile seizures. N Engl J Med 1976; 295:1029.
-Rosen, Peter, John A. Marx, Ron M. Walls, and Robert S. Hockberger. Rosens emergency medicine: concepts and clinical practice. 8th ed. Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders, 2014. (& photo)
-Schaider, J. & Barkin, R. & Hayden, S. & Wolfe, R. & Barkin, A. & Shayne, P. & Rosen, P. (2011). SEIZURE, ADULT. ROSEN & BARKIN’S 5-MINUTE EMERGENCY MEDICINE CONSULT. Retrieved February 13, 2017 from


10 Jul
submitted by Amit Kumar, M.D. 
-Hold warfarin
-Vit K 10mg IV infusion over 20-60minsholygrail018
-PCC. Dosing based on weight and INR. Typical for INR >6: 50 U/kg. Re-check INR 30 mins post-admin.
-Transfusions: RBC, Platelets (if <50,000), FFP (15-30cc/kg; if PCC unavailable)
-Other agents: TXA/aminocaproic acid (anti-fibrinolytic), DDAVP (for platelet dysfunction)
-Hold warfarin. Vit K + PCC, as above
-Hold warfarin. Vit K 1-2mg
-Clinical judgement: withhold warfarin vs hold warfarin + Vit K vs more aggressive reversal (like above)
-Weigh pros/cons of current bleeding vs thromboembolic risk
-INR >9:  Vit K 2.5-5mg PO. Will reduce INR over 24-48 h. Can re-start warfarin (maybe reduced dose) when INR therapeutic
-INR 5-9: Hold warfarin temporarily (1-2 doses) +/- Vit K 1-2.5mg (elderly with slower clearance, prior bleeding)
-INR <5: Hold next dose of warfarin
-Often found in rodenticides, laced street-drugs. Accidental vs suicide attempt.
-Usually requires massive doses of Vit K (50-800mg/d) for months-years, based on repeat assays and coagulation studies
PCC pearls:
-If 4-factor PCC missing, use 3-factor PCC + FFP (to supplement factor VII)
-PCC dose based on units of factor IX activity
-PCC advantage over FFP: more rapid admin (doesn’t have to be thawed), faster INR reversal, lower risks for volume overload or TRALI
“Paper Chase 1- PCC vs. FFP.” Review. Audio blog post. EM:RAP, Dec. 2013. Web. <>. Episode 147

DKA & HHS – treatment myths busted

26 Jun

submitted by Amit Kumar, M.D.


*ABG >VBG: False, ABG = VBG.

Additionally, VBG is less painful and avoids complications like radial artery aneurysms, hematoma, and radial neuropathy. Lactate on VBG is equally reliable despite length of tourniquet time or temperature. pH of VBG is assumed to be 0.03 less than ABG. Only level missing in VBG are PaO2 and SpO2 (for which we have the pulse-ox). In general, ABGs are only useful in patient where knowing PaO2 is vital, and A-a gradient is desired.


*Shotgun insulin order s/p IVF: False. Correcting electrolytes is higher priority.

Serum K is low to begin with due to acidosis. Additional insulin and IVF will shift more K into cells, further depleting serum K. If K <3.5, replete K and hold insulin. If K 3.5-5.5, replete K with insulin. If K >5.5, may just give insulin.


*Insulin bolus, then drip: False.  Pediatric guidelines actually do not recommend bolus for potential risk for hypercorrection of serum glucose and cerebral edema.

Hypoglycemia is worse than hyperglycemia for mortality. So why do it? Per comparison studies, gtt at 0.14U/kg/h is better at providing a good therapeutic plateau, compared to 0.1U/kg bolus followed by 0.1U/kg/h gtt.
Replete Phos <1 mg/dL (vital for generating ATP) and Mg <2. Monitor Ca as well.


*HCO3 for pH <7.1: False. Bicarbonate exacerbates hypokalemia, and may even potentially increase risk of cerebral edema.

Bicarb also shifts O2 dissociation curve leftward, inducing hypoxia in a state of high demand. If given, just start a drip sans bolus, and mix with D5W (mixing with NS will cause precipitation and make solution hypertonic).



*Kitabchi AE, Hirsch IB, Emmett M. Diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state in adults: Treatment. In: UpToDate (Accessed on July 27, 2016)

*Swaminathan A, Herbert M. (2013, May). DKA Myths [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from:

*Wolfson AB, Hendey GW, Ling LJ, Rosen CL, Schaider J, Sharieff GQ. Harwood Nuss’ Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010.


DENTAL BLOCKS (quick procedure review)

19 Jun

submitted by Amit Kumar, M.D.

Easy procedures providing big-time opioid-free relief!

Can mix 50-50 lido and bupivacaine for quicker onset + longer analgesia combo.

Infraorbital nerve block:Infraorbital 1

1) Topical anesthetic on cotton-tip swab/gauze to dried mucosa for 60 secs

2) Retract cheek, insert needle next to 2nd premolar, 0.5cm from buccal surface. Advance parallel to tooth

3) You’ll palpate it next to foramen (under palpating finger) at depth of approx 2.5cm

4) Confirm location, aspirate, then inject 2-3 cc local anesthesia

5) Massage tissue for 15 secs to hasten onset

*Intraoral approach provides nearly 2x duration of anesthesia compared to extra-oral approach







Infraalveolar 1Inferior alveolar nerve block:

1) Topical anesthetic on cotton-tip swab/gauze to dried mucosa for 60 secs

2) Palpate coronoid notch with thumb, and stretch bucally (index & middle finger at angle of mandible outside)

3) Inject 2-3 cc of anesthesia at the site where middle of your thumb nail and pterygomandibular raphe biset

4) Massage tissue for 15 secs to hasten onset

*Will also anesthetize lingual nerve (anterior 2/3 of tongue in that side)

*Anesthetize long buccal nerve of that side, but injecting just distal and buccal to last molar

Reference(s):  Hedges, Jerris R., and James R. Roberts. Roberts and Hedges clinical procedures in emergency medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders, 2014. Print.

strength in numbers: blood transfusion risk

22 May

via a recent emdocs article (click through for the full read), some ballpark numbers that 190365-004-e1a439ccmight help you when you consent your next patient for a blood transfusion:

<1% (~0.63%) had a transfusion reaction, based on data from 2011

only 317/8,000,000 (~ 1 in 25,000) had a serious reaction requiring ICU-level care

risk of viral transmission:

  • HIV -> 1: 1,467,000 units
  • Hepatitis C -> 1: 1,149,000 units
  • Hepatitis B -> 1: 357,000 units


in comparison, for reference:

  • odds of a royal flush (5-card poker): ~1 in 650,000
  • odds of a four-of-a-kind (5-card poker): ~1 in 4000
  • odds (in a single year) of dying in a motor vehicle accident: ~1 in 9000
  • odds (in a single year) of dying in an “air and space transport” accident: ~1 in 770,000


References: emdocs article; poker probabilities; mortality risk

quick tip: easy fluorescein staining

28 Apr

via a recent post from the Procedural Pause:pp20fluoro20clinical20pearl

use a saline ‘bullet’ (dropper), drip a little saline on the fluorescein strip, then draw it back up.


handy for peds, or for squirmy adults, too



I’ve also seen the strip dropped in the back of a 10 cc syringe, or a saline flush used similarly as with the dropper above (see this ALiEM post for more).



There you go. Add it to the toolbox.


References: procedural pause post, ALiEM post



vomiting during intubation? tube the esophagus

13 Apr

quick handy tip from this EMCRIT podcast for a vomit (or blood) laden oropharynx during intubation:jan_08_jems_intubation101

blindly (since you can’t see anything) insert an ETT; if it happens to be tracheal, great.

more likely, it’ll be in the (esopha)gUs.  LEAVE IT THERE.  you can intubate around it shortly, and you now have a landmark to intubate over. 

now here’s the tip: INFLATE the cuff on the esophageal ETT.  Also remember to tilt the now vomit-spewing ETT to the side, but this is now an outlet for the blood/vomit that won’t obscure your DL view

now, suction, and intubate the trachea.


Easy concept, handy tip.  Add it to the toolbox.

(check out the podcast for some more tips, but I thought that was the handiest).


References: EMCRIT podcast; picture