Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cardiology Corner - More Brugada Tidbits

Most physicians are aware of the Brugada Syndrome cardiac repolarization phenotype - the most recognizable being Type 1, or "coved" type.

Type 2 and Type 3, however, are essentially indistinguishable from an incomplete right bundle branch block with ST-segment elevation and a positive T-wave.  These authors, based on a small case series, took 38 patients referred for ajmaline provocation testing and compared their baseline ECGs.  Of the 14 patients who converted to Type 1 following ajmaline infusion, they found the baseline angle of the R' wave differed significantly - with an alpha angle cut-off of 50 degrees and a beta angle cut-off of 58 degrees.

A little esoteric, but fascinating.

"New Electrocardiographic Criteria for Discriminating Between Brugada Types 2 and 3 Patterns and Incomplete Right Bundle Branch Block"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Who Knows If Older Platelets Are More Harmful

It might be true, but there's no way to know from this study - another illuminating example of just how difficult it is to perform trauma research.

Given that increased platelet transfusion in trauma has been linked to sepsis, ARDS, and other untoward outcomes, these authors decided to retrospectively evaluate whether the age of the platelet had any effect on sepsis, ARDS, ARF, liver failure, and mortality.  And, the answer - like I said, who knows?  The group that received four-day old platelets had the highest ISS - mostly attribute to head AIS >3 - in addition to an unlimited number of accounted for and unaccounted for confounding variables.

If you believe their adjustments, their proportional hazard regression model shakes out platelet and blood product age-related variables as significant associations with complications - most of which is sepsis.  So, while the authors are probably right, there are limitations.

"Impact of the Duration of Platelet Storage in Critically Ill Trauma Patients"

TYRAPS69S6HZ claim code (don't ask).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Too Many Traumatic Arrests Are Transported

Traumatic arrest in the field - except in the narrowest of circumstances - has universally dismal outcomes.  Yet, As the authors of this study observe, a great number of these patients continue to be transported to hospitals.

This is a retrospective review of a prospective trauma registry at Sinai in Chicago in which all traumatic patients with pre-hospital arrest were considered.  Patients were excluded for pediatrics, medical causes, drowning/electrocution injuries, and if the prehospital time was less than 15 minutes.  Essentially, they were looking at guidelines from the ACS Committee on Trauma for termination of resuscitation in the out of hospital setting - pulseless, apneic, no organized ECG activity, or unresponsive to 15 minutes of resuscitation.

They identified 428 patients in their cohort - and found that 294 of them were transported in violation of guidelines.  Of the inappropriately transported patients, 93% were declared dead in the ED and the remaining 6.8% (20 patients) survived the ED.  Of those 20, 12 died in surgery, 8 made it to the ICU, and 7 died.  A single, neurologically devastated, patient survived to discharge to a long-term care facility with a GCS of 6.

The total hospital charges incurred for the futile resuscitation of these patients totaled $3.8 million - a figure that excludes the EMS charges as well as the long-term care facility charges for the patient with GCS 6.

And this is just a single hospital.

"The Consequences of Noncompliance With Guidelines for Withholding or Terminating Resuscitation in Traumatic Cardiac Arrest Patients"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Must We Use IV Paracetamol/Acetaminophen?

I've yet to be terribly impressed with the "new" pain control options available to clinicians these days.  We've got tapentadol (Nucynta), which works just about as well as ibuprofen.  We've got companies working on a purified hydrocodone derivative that's 10 times stronger and equally more dependence forming.  And then we have intravenous paracetamol/acetaminophen.

So, it works.  Studies, like this one, show it's reasonably effective and has a minimal side effect profile - at least compared to the mild incidence of nausea seen with IV morphine.  It's slightly faster acting, achieves more reliable plasma levels than oral paracetamol/acetaminophen, and it's presumably as safe - although the safety of any intravenous drug is compromised due to extravasation risks and potential administration errors.  Oral paracetamol/acetaminophen bills a patient a few dollars while IV administration bills around a hundred, and I continue to wonder whether these sorts of "innovations" are worthwhile advances in pain control outside of extremely narrow indications.  I believe we now stock this and intravenous ibuprofen at our hospital - and goodness knows I've never seen anyone use them.  While relief in suffering is undoubtedly one of our most important roles in healthcare, we have to weigh the few moments of physical suffering against the long-term consequences/suffering of the hospital bills that may be passed along to our patients.

Anyone have a favorable experience with these new non-narcotic medications?

"Intravenous paracetamol versus morphine for renal colic in the emergency department: a randomised double-blind controlled trial"