2017 Literature Review

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We review select articles from 2017 that are important or that got people talking.

Emergency Medicine LIterature of Note on this study

Review from The SGEM


  1. Sadeghirad B et al. Corticosteroids for treatment of sore throat: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ. 2017;358:j3887.
  2. Barniol et al.Levocetirizine and Prednisone Are Not Superior to Levocetirizine Alone for the Treatment of Acute Urticaria: A Randomized Double-Blind Clinical Trial. Ann Emerg Med. 2018;71(1):125-131.e1
  3. Wilson SS, Kwiatkowski GM, Millis SR, Purakal JD, Mahajan AP, Levy PD. Use of nitroglycerin by bolus prevents intensive care unit admission in patients with acute hypertensive heart failure. Am J Emerg Med. 2017;35(1):126-131.
  4. Hu et al  Variability in Interpretation of Cardiac Standstill Among Physician Sonographers. Ann Emerg Med. 2017 Sep 1. S0196-0644(17)31376-8
  5. Clattenburg et al Point-of-care ultrasound use in patients with cardiac arrest is associated prolonged cardiopulmonary resuscitation pauses: A prospective cohort study. Resuscitation. 2018;122:65-68.
  6. Hinson JS et al. Risk of Acute Kidney Injury After Intravenous Contrast Media Administration. Ann Emerg Med. 2017
  7. Healey CD et al. Asymptomatic cervical spine fractures: Current guidelines can fail older patients. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2017;83(1):119-125.
  8. Crowell et al. Accuracy of Computed Tomography Imaging Criteria in the Diagnosis of Adult Open Globe Injuries by Neuroradiology and Ophthalmology. Acad Emerg Med. 2017;24(9):1072-1079.
  9. Talan et al. Subgroup Analysis of Antibiotic Treatment for Skin Abscesses. Ann Emerg Med. 2018;71(1):21-30.

Episode 78 – Influenza

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We tackle some free open access medical education from the CDC on the flu vaccine, including:

  • Recommendations that individuals with any severity of egg allergy (including anaphylaxis) receive the flu vaccine. The only modification that needs to occur is patients with a history of true anaphylaxis to eggs should be given the flu shot in a setting where they can be monitored by a healthcare professional if needed (i.e. a doctor’s office) [1]
  • It is very unlikely that the flu vaccine causes Guillan-Barre Syndrome (GBS). If there is any increase as a result of the flu shot, it is 1-2 in 1,000,000 [1]

Oseltamivir for Influenza

We review the CDC recommendations as well as evidence from a 2014 Cochrane Review [1,3]. The data from the most recent Cochrane review includes studies from Roche Pharmaceuticals (makers of oseltamivir) that were initially unpublished and only released with international pressure, and seemingly do not support the CDC recommendations.

Rosh Review Emergency Board Review Questions

A 74-year-old woman presents with complaints of fever, productive cough with bloody sputum, shortness of breath, and headache. These symptoms developed and worsened drastically over the past 3 days. She recently recovered from an influenza infection 1 week ago. Her medical history otherwise includes only well-controlled hypertension. Vital signs on presentation are as follows: T 39°F, HR 106, BP 110/75, RR 30, oxygen sat 95% RA. A chest radiograph is obtained and a subsequent CT scan of the chest demonstrates multiple cavitary lung lesions. Which of the following organisms is most likely responsible for this patient’s presentation?

A. Clostridum perfringens

B. Escherichia coli

C. Mycobacterium tuberculosis

D. Staphylococcus aureus

  1. This patient’s presentation of pneumonia with multiple cavitary lesions on imaging is consistent with a post-viral secondary necrotizing pneumonia. The most common organism in necrotizing pneumonia, particularly after a viral upper respiratory infection, is S. aureus. Necrotizing pneumonia is known to be caused by a specific S. aureus strain that produces Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL). Often, this infection and the ensuing pneumonia that develops, is preceded by an influenza infection. Typically this S. aureus strain is also methicillin resistant. A CT of the chest with contrast is useful in diagnosis, and empiric therapy should be initiated promptly (vancomycin or linezolid, piperacillin/tazobactam). Surgical intervention may be necessary if complications develop – such as septic shock, gross hemoptysis and empyema. The following should be considered in the differential diagnosis of pulmonary cavitation: necrotizing pneumonia, lung abscess, septic pulmonary embolism, fungal/mycobacterial infection, vasculitis, primary/metastatic tumor, rheumatoid nodules, congenital cysts. Defining characteristics of necrotizing pneumonia include: preceding influenza infection, rapid onset and progressive symptom worsening, decreased WBC count, airway hemorrhages, respiratory failure, necrotic destruction of lung parenchyma, high mortality rate. A preceding viral infection brings a large number of immune cells to the lung tissue, such that when secondary bacterial infection strikes, there is a catastrophic activation and destruction of immune mediators that damage lung tissue and lead to necrotizing pneumonia.

Clostridial gas gangrene is a highly lethal necrotizing soft tissue infection of skeletal muscle caused by toxin- and gas-producing Clostridium species. Clostridium perfringens (A), previously known as Clostridium welchii, is the most common cause of clostridial gas gangrene (80-90% of cases). Escherichia coli (B) is one of the most frequent causes of many common bacterial infections, including cholecystitis, bacteremia, cholangitis, urinary tract infection (UTI), and traveler’s diarrhea, and other clinical infections such as neonatal meningitis and pneumonia. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (C) causes cavitary lung lesions in the upper lobes and clinically manifests as hemoptysis, weight loss and night sweats. It does not have any clinical correlation with influenza.


  1. “Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines”. CDC. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm
  2. “Influenza Antiviral Medications: Summary for Clinicians.” CDC. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/antivirals/summary-clinicians.htm
  3. Jefferson T, Jones MA, Doshi P, et al. Neuraminidase inhibitors for preventing and treating influenza in healthy adults and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(4):CD008965.

Episode 77 – Alcohol Withdrawal

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Over at the Pulmcrit blog, Dr. Josh Farkas has proposed the use of phenobarbital monotherapy for the treatment of ethanol withdrawal. He argues that phenobarbital has the following advantages:

  • Superior neurochemistry
  • Reliable – some patients will be resistant to benzos but this does not happen as much with phenobarbital
  • Predictable pharmacokinetics

Core Content

We cover alcohol withdrawal using Rosen’s Emergency Medicine (9th ed) Chapter 142 , Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine (8th ed) Chapter 292, and Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies (10th ed) Chapter 81  as guides.



Rosh Review Emergency Board Review Questions

A 49-year-old man presents to the Emergency Department complaining of sweating and tremors. The patient drinks a bottle of liquor per day and stopped suddenly because of a pending court case. His last alcoholic drink was 3 days ago. On physical examination, his blood pressure is 168/105 mm Hg, pulse rate is 106/minute, respirations are 22/minute, and temperature is 99.3°F. The patient appears agitated and restless with a visible tremor of bilateral hands. The triage team ordered folic acid, thiamine, and a multivitamin. Which of the following is the most appropriate disposition?

A. Admit the patient and start diazepam

B.Admit the patient and start disulfiram

C.Discharge the patient with a prescription for diazepam

D.Discharge the patient with a prescription for disulfiram

A. Admit the patient and start diazepam is the correct disposition because this patient is suffering from alcohol withdrawal, which potentially can be fatal. Withdrawal symptoms occur when a patient has alcohol use disorder and has developed a tolerance to alcohol, where an increased amount of alcohol is needed to achieve the desired effect. When tolerance has developed, cessation leads to withdrawal. Early symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, headache, tremor, tachycardia, hypertension, hyperthermia, and hyperactive reflexes. Seizures (usually grand mal) can develop between 12-24 hours after withdrawal starts. After 24-72 hours, life-threatening delirium tremens may occur, which manifests with signs of altered mental status, hallucinations and marked autonomic instability. Treatment of alcohol withdrawal involves giving a benzodiazepine (e.g. diazepam) until symptoms lessen and then tapering the dosage over days to weeks. Thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are also administered and any electrolyte abnormalities are corrected (typically low potassium and magnesium). Following withdrawal, the patient should be referred to support groups. Long term medication used to deter use of alcohol include naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate.

Admit the patient and start disulfiram (A) is incorrect because the patient needs a benzodiazepine medication to prevent delirium tremens and potentially fatal consequences. Disulfiram is a medication used in some patients for long-term adherence to alcohol abstinence. Ingestion of alcohol while taking disulfiram causes copious vomiting and potentially more severe reactions. Discharge the patient with a prescription for diazepam (C) or disulfiram (D) is incorrect because alcohol withdrawal is potentially lethal and this patient should be admitted.


  1. “Alcohol Related Diseases.” Rosen’s Emergency Medicine. 9th ed. Chapter 142, 1838-1851.e1
  2. “Substance Use Disorders.” Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Review. 9th ed. Chapter 281.
  3. “Ethanol Withdrawal.” Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies. 10th ed. Chapter 81.
  4. Hendey GW, Dery RA, Barnes RL, Snowden B, Mentler P. A prospective, randomized, trial of phenobarbital versus benzodiazepines for acute alcohol withdrawal. Am J Emerg Med. 2011;29(4):382-385.
  5. Young GP, Rores C, Murphy C, Dailey RH. Intravenous phenobarbital for alcohol withdrawal and convulsions. Ann Emerg Med. 1987;16(8):847-850.