Saturday, October 29, 2011

Novel Ischemia Prediction from CCTA

One of the arguments against CCTA is that it only describes coronary anatomy - and has no demonstrated clinical predictive value regarding whether the observed lesions are flow-limiting or potentially related to anginal symptoms.  This study develops a computational fluid dynamics model that attempts to predict flow through coronary stenoses seen on CCTA.

Korea, Latvia, and California come together to evaluate 103 patients in a multicenter trial in which patients with suspected CAD underwent CCTA, invasive coronary angiography, and fractional flow reserve measurement.  They used only 256 and 64-slice scanners for CCTA, and CAD was quantified as none, mild (0-49%), moderate (50-70%), and severe (>70%).  Patients then underwent invasive coronary angiography where ischemia-related flow-limitation was defined as a fractional flow reserve of < 0.80.  The study group then developed a method of deriving the FFR from CCTA data, and compared it to the actual measurements from invasive coronary angiography using the same threshold value.

The conclusions from this article depend what takeaways you're looking for.  On one hand, the FFR-CT method was pretty decent - 87.9% sensitive and 82.2% specific regarding their definition of ischemia-causing lesions.  The other real takeaway is that CCTA has abysmal performance at the threshold typically used in the CCTA studies of >50% stenosis.  Their calculated +LR for CCTA stenoses >50% was only 1.51 in the setting of a specificity of 39.6%.  To me, another nail in the coffin showing CCTA is the d-Dimer of CAD, leading to a ton of unnecessary testing.

Considering it took them 5(!) hours to generate the FFR-CT measurement based on Newtonian fluid and Navier-Stokes equations on a parallel supercomputer, I don't think we'll be seeing this anytime soon - but hope is out there for the future.

"Cardiac Imaging Diagnosis of Ischemia-Causing Coronary Stenoses by Noninvasive Fractional Flow Reserve Computed From Coronary Computed Tomographic Angiograms"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Soft Drinks & Youth Aggression

This is not an EM article - but it was too bizarre to pass up.  Apparently, the use of soft drinks and junk food is a validated legal strategy for justifying homicide (e.g., the 'Twinkie Defense') - and this study finds an association to support it.

2,725 Boston high-school students surveyed regarding non-diet soft drink use and violence towards peers, dates, children, or firearm use.  Attempting to control for other factors, they eventually find statistically significant associations between youths who drink >5 cans of soft drinks in a week and increased alcohol use, increased tobacco use, as well as all categories of violence.  In fact, with all four categories of violence, the incidence of each increased in a dose-dependent manner with soft drink consumption.

This is, of course, an observed association, not necessarily a causal relationship, although the authors speculate on how sugars and caffeine might incite aggression.  If you are the parent of a high-school student, it isn't necessarily going to prevent violence to deny them access to non-diet soft drinks - but, if your high-school student is a heavy soft drink consumer, look out!

"The ‘Twinkie Defense’: the relationship between carbonated non-diet soft drinks and violence perpetration among Boston high school students."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do/Don't Scan the Trauma Patient

In a study attempting to build consensus, they discovered philosophical differences between the trauma team and the emergency physician.

This is a prospective observational study in which 701 blunt trauma activations at LAC-USC were enrolled, with the EP and the trauma team each giving an opinion on which CT studies were necessary.  The authors then reviewed which scans were obtained, sorted out the scans that were undesired by one or both physicians, and determined whether any injuries would be missed.

Bafflingly, 7% of the 2,804 scans obtained during the study period were deemed unnecessary by both the emergency physician and the trauma attending - yet were still performed.  The remaining 794 undesired scans were desired by the trauma team but not the emergency physician.  Their question - would anything of significance been missed if the scans had been more selectively ordered?

The answer is - yes and no.  The trauma surgeon authors state yes, and justify that by saying that many of the abnormalities missed on CT required closer monitoring - just because none of the missed injuries deteriorated during the study period does not mean they were not significant.  The emergency physician authors point to a 56% reduction in pan-scanning, the benefits of radiation and cost reductions, and hang their hats on the fact that none of the hypothetically missed injuries changed management.

So, who is right?  Both, and neither, of course.  Emergency physicians and trauma teams should work on developing evidence-based clinical decision rules to support selective scanning in blunt trauma - and then try this study again to see if they can generate results they can agree on.

Definitely a fun read.

As far as medical literature goes, of course.

"Selective Use of Computed Tomography Compared With Routine Whole Body Imaging in Patients With Blunt Trauma."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

ECMO For Influenza

Not many institutions in the U.S. are set up for ECMO in adults, particularly in the Emergency Department, but there are several small datasets out there indicating it should be a significant part of our arsenal for selected patients.  This is a review of ECMO's use in H1N1 influenza-associated ARDS in England during the "Swine Flu" pandemic.

The authors retrospectively reviewed 80 patients with H1N1 from prospectively collected cohort data, all of whom required critical care for ARDS and were referred for ECMO in the United Kingdom.  Through some data calisthenics, these 80 patients were compared to matching subgroups of patients out of 1,756 in the H1N1 critical care cohort.  Of the 80 patients referred for ECMO, only 69 actually received it.  However, when compared to these 80 patients in an intention-to-treat analysis, there was a significant survival advantage associated with referral to ECMO - approximately 24% mortality in the ECMO-referral group compared to 46-52% in the matched controls, depending on which method they used to identify matched controls.

Not a big stretch to interpret this as a positive treatment association for ECMO in H1N1-associated ARDS.  But, I'd still get your flu shot.

"Referral to an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Center and Mortality Among Patients With Severe 2009 Influenza A(H1N1)"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

EMS Blood Pressures Aren't Unreliable

Ever since a trauma patient billed as normotensive with stable vital signs rolled off the elevator with CPR in progress having "just lost pulses", I've been somewhat skeptical of my prehospital report, including vital signs.  This study, at least, supports a position that, barring untruthfulness, EMS providers vital signs are usually not clinically significantly different than vital signs obtained on arrival to the Emergency Department - even if observed techniques for EMS providers weren't perfect.

The first phase study looked at 100 patients arriving in the Emergency Department.  BP measurements were obtained within 5 minutes of arrival, and compared to the reported measurement from EMS.  There was approximately a 17mmHg +/- spread to the systolic pressures measured by EMS compared to the first BP in the Emergency Department.

The second phase of the study had observers riding with EMS and documenting the technique at which they used to find vital signs - and then having the research assistants performing the same measurement in the field as well.    In this phase, EMS providers systolic pressure was only a 10.1mmgHg +/- spread away from the research assistant - despite having ideal technique deficiencies and a terminal digit preference for numbers ending in zero.

The article concludes that EMS providers measurements had poor agreement with subsequent measurements, and that the differences were clinically significant.  However, based on the distribution of error in their Bland-Altman plots, I disagree that assessment, as most of the variability occurred throughout a range of inconsequential systolic pressures between 120 and 170.  They unfortunately had very few patients with clinically important hypo- or hypertension, so the question really remains unanswered whether EMS measurements at the clinically important extremes are reliable.

I do find it rather entertaining that their methods included a "specially trained research assistant" to measure blood pressure, referred to in the title as an "expert".  You can be an "expert" in anything nowadays, apparently.

"Agreement between emergency medical services and expert blood pressure measurements."