Post-Partum Hemorrhage

Definition: Blood loss > 500 ml after a delivery (or > 250 ml after an abortion). The management of post-abortion hemorrhage is similar to that of post-partum hemorrhage (PPH).


  • Uterine atony (~ 50% of cases)
  • Retained products of conception (POCs)
  • Cervical lacerations
  • Uterine perforation
  • Uterine Inversion
  • Abnormal placentation (accreta, increta, percreta)
  • Coagulopathy


  • Occurs in 1-2% of patients undergoing a first trimester surgical abortion
  • Most common cause of abortion-related mortally in 2nd trimester
  • Risk increases with increasing maternal age

Clinical Presentation

  • Diagnosis
    • No exact definition but generally thought to be present when bleeding exceeds 500 ml
    • Should be suspected if bleeding “exceeds a clinician’s estimate of ‘normal’.” (Lew 2013)
    • Blood loss is not always brisk. Can be moderate, prolonged bleeding
    • Tachycardia and hypotension will be late findings
    • Look for signs of hypoperfusion
  • Key Examination Pieces
    • Any abnormal vital signs should raise suspicion of PPH
    • Obtain history for bleeding disorders or anticoagulation use
    • Examination of placenta
      • Should be intact without “missing pieces”
      • Looking for retained products of conception as source of ongoing bleeding
    • Examination of fundus of uterus
      • Uterine atony (uterine muscles do not fully contract) is the most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage (~ 80% of cases) (Lew 2013)
      • Abdominal examination will reveal a “boggy” uterus. Can be confirmed on bimanual exam
    • Direct examination of vagina
      • Lacerations to genital tract during delivery can cause brisk blood loss
      • Examine for uterine inversion (displacement of uterus into vagina)
    • Examine sites where blood drawn/IVs started
      • Looking for oozing or ongoing bleeding that may signal the presence of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)


  • Basic Supportive Care
    • Large bore IV X 2, supplemental O2 if hypoxic, cardiac monitor
    • Volume expansion to replace hemorrhage
      • Replace with blood products as soon as available
      • Give O negative until type specific products available
      • Can use crystalloid early if evidence of hypoperfusion but not ideal resuscitative fluid
    • Call obstetrics or surgical consultants early as patients frequently require surgical intervention
  • Fundal Massage (Robert’s + Hedges)

    Tranexamic Acid (TXA)

    • Largest study to date demonstrated reduction in death due to hemorrhage (1.9% vs 1.5%) without difference in hysterectomy rate (WOMAN trial 2017)
    • Dose
      • 1 gram over 10 minutes
      • Second dose given if continued bleeding after 30 minutes or recurrent bleeding within 24 hours
    • Full review of WOMAN trial found here
  • Uterine Massage
    • First line treatment for uterine atony
    • Begin with firm massage of the uterine fundus through the abdominal wall
    • Bimanual Uterine Massage (Robert’s + Hedges)

      Advance to bimanual uterine compression if bleeding continues 

      • External hand compresses and massages uterus
      • Hand placed internally in fist to massage anterior aspect of uterus
      • Avoid downward massage with internal hand (can cause uterine inversion or injure blood vessels)
  • Uterotonic Medications 
    • Should be given concomitantly with uterine massage
    • Multiple medication options which increase uterine muscle tone

Drugs for the Management of Uterine Atony (Roberts + Hedges)

  • Direct Uterine tamponade
    • Uterine packing: Uterus is packed with gauze or hemostatic dressings
    • Balloon tamponade
      • Device is placed into the uterus and balloon filled with saline or water
      • Bakri Balloon

        Bakri Balloon

        • Commercially available device specifically for this indication
        • Balloon accommodates up to 800 ml but as little as 250-500 ml of inflation can stop bleeding
        • Can potentially obviate need for surgical management
      • Sengstaken-Blakemore Esophogastric tube
        • Has a maximum volume ~ 500 ml
      • Latex Condom (Georgiou 2009, Burke 2017)
        • Case reports + case series of condom secured to foley catheter and inflated
        • Volume: 250-300 ml
      • Do not use a single foley catheter for this indication
        • Balloon with only 80 ml volume at maximum
        • More likely to hide bleeding than to tamponade it
        • Case reports of placement of multiple foley catheters (Georgiou 2009)

Balloon Tamponade Options (Georgiou 2009)

  • Uterine Inversion
    • Treatment involves reduction of the uterus back into position
    • Typically requires procedural sedation or general anesthesia to accomplish
    • Reduction can be facilitated with tocolytic agents (I.e. terbutaline or magnesium sulfate)
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
    • Administer blood products and adjuncts based on clotting derangements that are present (See LITFL DIC Post)
    • Patients will often require hysterectomy to resolve DIC

Take Home Points

  • Watch for continued bleeding in excess of 500 ml or bleeding that is “more than normal.” Call it postpartum hemorrhage and start resuscitation
  • Call your obstetric and/or surgical consultants early as operative intervention is often required
  • Replace intravascular volume with blood products
  • Uterine atony is the most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage. Begin treatment with uterine massage and uterotonic medications
  • Consider the development in DIC when patients continue to bleed despite appropriate management

For More on This Topic Checkout:


  1. Lew GH, Pulia MS: Emergency Childbirth, in Roberts JR, Hedges JR, Custalow CB, et al (eds): Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine, ed 6. Philadelphia, Saunders, 2013, Ch 56:p 1155-82.
  2. WOMAN Trial Collaborators. Effect of early tranexamic acid administration on mortality, hysterectomy, and other morbidities in women with postpartum hemorrhage (WOMAN): an international, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 2017; 389(10084): 2105-16. PMID: 28456509
  3. Georgiou C. Balloon tamponade in the management of postpartum haemorrhage: a review. BJOG 2009; 116(6): 748-57. PMID: 19432563
  4. Burke TF et al. Shock progression and survival after use of a condom uterine balloon tamponade package in women with uncontrolled postpartum hemorrhage. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2017; 139(1): 34-8. PMID: 28675419

Post Peer Reviewed By: Salim R. Rezaie (Twitter: @srrezaie)

The post Post-Partum Hemorrhage appeared first on R.E.B.E.L. EM - Emergency Medicine Blog.

REBEL Cast Ep 43: Pain Control and Opioid Sparing Options in the ED

Background: In the United States we are not only seeing an opioid epidemic but also a shortage of IV opioid agents. For both reasons, it is important to find non-opioid options for common pain complaints seen in the ED.  Changing prescribing practices is difficult but an important step in minimizing opioid usage.  Current research suggests that even short term opioid use can cause a predisposition to subsequent opioid dependence. In the spirit of doing no harm, we as a healthcare community should look to find other less harmful ways to decrease pain and suffering.  In this episode, we will review four randomized clinical trials published in the past year on pain control to see if there is evidence to support other non-opioid options.

Episode 43 – Pain Control and Opioid Sparing Options in the ED

Click here for Direct Download of Podcast

Study #1: IN Ketamine vs IV Morphine for Renal Colic [1]

What They Did:

  • Prospective randomized double-blind controlled trial in 40 patients with renal colic at 2 Iranian EDs
  • Intranasal (IN) ketamine 1mg/kg + IV placebo vs Intravenous (IV) morphine 0.1mg/kg + IN placebo
  • If no decreases in VAS after 30 minutes, IV fentanyl was used as rescue analgesia at a dose of 1 – 2ug/kg q5min and titrated to effect


  • Primary: Visual analogue scale (VAS) changes at 5, 15, and 30 min after drug injection
  • Secondary: Adverse reactions and need for rescue analgesia


  • Age >15 years of age
  • Presenting to the ED due to renal colic pain
  • No need for surgical intervention for urolithiasis


  • Opioid addiction and prior use of analgesics (The period of time for prior use of analgesics was not specified)
  • Pregnancy
  • History of ketamine or morphine hypersensitivity
  • Nasal occlusion
  • SBP > 180 or < 90mmHg
  • Respiratory distress
  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Unable to cooperate


  • Mean VAS Baseline Score
    • Morphine Group: 7.40 +/- 1.18
    • Ketamine Group: 8.35 +/- 1.30
  • Mean VAS at 5min
    • Morphine Group: 6.07 +/- 0.47
    • Ketamine Group: 6.87 +/- 0.47
  • Mean VAS at 15min
    • Morphine Group: 5.24 +/- 0.49
    • Ketamine Group: 5.60 +/- 0.49
  • Mean VAS at 30min
    • Morphine Group: 4.02 +/- 0.59
    • Ketamine Group: 4.17 +/- 0.59
  • IV morphine 0.1mg/kg provided better analgesic effect in patients with renal colic at 5 minutes, but IN ketamine 1mg/kg provided equal analgesia at 15 and 30 minutes
  • Adverse Reactions:
    • Morphine Group:
      • Hypotension: 40%
      • Emergency Phenomenon: 0%
    • Ketamine Group:
      • Hypotension: 0%
      • Emergence Phenomenon: 30%
    • Rescue Analgesia Required:
      • Morphine Group: 35%
      • Ketamine Group: 25%
      • Not Statistically Significant


  • Prospective, randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study
  • Block randomization with block sizes of 4
  • Diagnosis of urolithiasis was made via pragmatic practices (i.e. Ultrasound evidence of renal stone and hematuria in urine, not CT scanning everyone)
  • Treating emergency physician blinded to the study
  • Used analysis of covariance in order to adjust for baseline differences in pain


  • Small study
  • Chief investigator and triage nurse were aware of the patients group assignment
  • Sample size was too small to detect differences in adverse events
  • Follow up was only 30 minutes and it is unclear if more rescue analgesia would be required after 2 – 4 hours when the medications begin to wear off.
  • This study only evaluated renal colic and not other forms of acute pain
  • Didn’t give standard treatment of nephrolithiasis (i.e. NSAIDs)


  • Worthy of mention:
    • IN ketamine has 45% peak plasma level at <30min and a terminal half-life of around 2hrs
    • IV morphine has its analgesic effect in < 10 min with peak plasma level of 20 min and duration of action near 4hrs
    • 0.1mg/kg of IV morphine is the recommended starting dose, but should be understood that additional doses may be needed

Author Conclusion: “IN ketamine may be effective in decreasing pain in renal colic.”

Study Take Home Point: IN ketamine 1mg/kg provides effective analgesic effect in renal colic when compared to IV morphine 0.1 mg/kg, but there is a delay of approximately 10 minutes until comparable analgesic effect with IN ketamine

Study #2: Oral Opioid vs Oral Non-Opioid for Extremity Pain [2]

What They Did:

  • Randomized controlled double-blind clinical trial conducted at 2 urban EDs in the US for acute extremity pain
  • 411 patients with moderate to severe acute extremity pain
    • 400mg ibuprofen +1000mg acetaminophen
    • 5mg oxycodone + 325mg acetaminophen
    • 5mg hydrocodone + 300mg acetaminophen
    • 30mg codeine + 300mg acetaminophen


  • Primary: Between-group difference in decline in pain 2 hours after pain medication (Pain assessed by an 11-point numerical rating scale; 0 = No pain & 10 = Worst possible pain)
  • Predefined minimum clinically important difference was 1.3 on the NR
  • Secondary: Proportion of patients receiving rescue analgesics, and total amount of analgesics in morphine equivalent units


  • Adults ≥21 years – 64 years
  • Presenting to the ED for acute extremity pain
  • Required to have a clinical indication for radiological imaging (Based on judgment of the ED attending physician)


  • Past use of methadone
  • Presence of a chronic condition requiring frequent pain management such as sickle cell disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Any neuropathy
  • History of adverse reaction to any of the study medications
  • Having taken opioids within the past 24 hours
  • Having taken ibuprofen or acetaminophen within the past 8 hours
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • History of peptic ulcer disease
  • Report of any prior use of recreational narcotics
  • Medical condition that might affect metabolism of opioid analgesics, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen such as hepatitis, renal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Addison disease, or Cushing disease
  • Presence of any medicine that might interact with 1 of the study medications (i.e. SSRIs or TCAs)


  • Baseline mean NRS pain score = 8.7
  • NRS Pain Score Decrease at 2 Hours:
    • Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen = 4.3 (95% CI 3.6 – 4.9)
    • Oxycodone/Acetaminophen = 4.4 (95% CI 3.7 – 5.0)
    • Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen = 3.5 (95% CI 2.9 – 4.2)
    • Codeine/Acetaminophen = 3.9 (95% CI 3.2 – 4.5)
    • No statistically or clinically significant between-group differences
  • 73 patients (17.8%) received rescue analgesics within 2-hour period


  • Study analgesics were taken under direct observation to confirm ingestion
  • Research pharmacist performed stratified randomization in blocks of 8 using an online randomization generator
  • Analgesics were masked by placing them into identical unmarked opaque capsules
  • Nurses and Physicians were blinded to study medications
  • All patients who were enrolled and met inclusion criteria were analyzed in the groups to which they were randomized


  • Adverse events not assessed
  • Follow up time limited to 2 hours, not allowing for the duration of analgesia to be assessed
  • 18% of patients required rescue analgesia


  • Interestingly in this study, the need for imaging was considered a proxy for more severe injury
  • The doses of opioid used in the combination pills were low (i.e. 5mg) and may explain why there is no difference in analgesic effect when compared to non-opioid combination agents. It is important to note however that acetaminophen at 500mg and combination of opioid at 5mg may be a reasonable starting dose for opioid naïve patients
  • The extremity injuries were generally minor (i.e. sprain, strain, contusion) with a smaller proportion of patients, approximately 20%, having a diagnosis of extremity fracture amongst the 4 groups.

Author Conclusion: “For patients presenting to the ED with acute extremity pain, there were no statistically significant or clinically important differences in pain reduction at 2 hours among single-dose treatment with ibuprofen and acetaminophen or with 3 different opioid and acetaminophen combination analgesics. Further research to assess adverse events and other dosing may be warranted.”

Study Take Home Point: It is fair to say that ibuprofen and acetaminophen non-opioid combination pills can reduce pain in mild to moderate extremity injuries, but unfortunately, in this methodologically well done study, an adequate optimal dose non-opioid combination pill was compared to a less than optimal inadequate dose opioid combination pill.

Study #3: IV Ketorolac vs IV Morphine vs IV Ketorolac + Morphine for Renal Colic [3]

What They Did:

  • Single center, triple-blind, randomized clinical trial
  • 300 patients with clinical diagnosis of acute renal colic and pain score greater than 4 on a 10cm visual analogue scale (VAS) score
  • 1mg/kg morphine IV + 30mg ketorolac IV vs 0.1mg/kg morphine IV vs 30mg ketorolac IV
  • Rescue analgesia (0.05mg/kg IV morphine) was administered for persistent pain (Pain score >4 on VAS) after 20 and 40 minutes of original intervention


  • Primary: Pain intensity measured on a 10-cm VAS before intervention and at 20 and 40 minutes after intervention
  • Secondary: Amount of rescue analgesia, adverse effects


  • Adults 18 – 55 years of age
  • Clinical diagnosis of acute renal colic
  • Pain score of 5 or more measured by 10cm VAS


  • History of kidney or renal dysfunction
  • Severe dehydration
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Single kidney or kidney transplant
  • History of peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Receiving analgesics within 6 hours before presentation
  • History of bleeding diathesis
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Anticoagulant medication or coagulation disorder
  • History of drug dependence or current use of methadone or chronic consumption of tobacco and alcohol
  • Peritonitis or presence of any peritoneal signs


  • Pain Intensity Baseline: 8.36
  • Pain Intensity After 40 Min
    • Morphine/Ketorolac: 3.01 +/- 0.98
    • Morphine Alone: 3.66 +/- 1.02
    • Ketorolac Alone: 3.68 +/- 0.88
  • No statistical difference in adverse effects
  • Rescue Analgesic at 40 Min:
    • Morphine/Ketorolac: 16%
    • Morphine Alone: 20%
    • Ketorolac Alone: 24%


  • Computer based random digit generator used to randomize patients
  • Drugs prepared in similar syringes which were opaque
  • Treating physicians, nurses, and patients blinded to study groups
  • No patients lost to follow up


  • Single center study
  • Only measured VAS scores
  • Not powered to detect less than 5% differences
  • Ketamine may lead to unblinding due to issues with ocular response
  • Lots of exclusion criteria

Author Conclusion: “Balanced analgesia with morphine and ketorolac is more effective compared to morphine or ketorolac alone determine by lower pain scores after 40-min of injection and lower need for rescue analgesia.”

Study Take Home Point: Although the authors conclude that “balanced analgesia” with morphine and ketorolac is more effective than morphine or ketorolac alone, it is important to realize that the pain scores in all 3 groups was less than 4 and the need for rescue analgesia was only slightly more.  Therefore, a ketorolac first strategy may still appropriate, with the addition of an IV opioid only if pain is not adequately controlled.

Study #4: Regional Nerve Blocks for Hip Fractures [4]

What They Did:

  • Multicenter, randomized controlled trial at 3 New York Hospitals
  • 161 patients with hip fractures
  • Ultrasound-guided, single injection, femoral nerve block administered by EM physicians followed by:
    • Placement of a continuous fascia iliaca block (FIB) by anesthesiologists within 24 hours or conventional analgesics (CA)
  • Femoral Nerve Block: 20mL of 0.5% bupivacaine
  • Continuous Fascia Iliaca Block: 15mL of 0.2% ropivacaine, followed by continuous infusion of 0.2% ropivacaine at 5mL/hr; Catheters removed after POD 3


  • Primary:
  • Pain (0 – 10 scale) at 1 and 2 hours after ED admission, at rest, with transfers out of bed, and with walking on POD 3
  • Distance walked on postoperative day (POD) 3
  • Secondary:
  • Opioid requirements
  • Walking ability 6 weeks after discharge
  • Opioid side effects (≥1 day of severe nausea, sedation, or mental cloudiness)


  • ≥60 years of age
  • Radiographically confirmed hip fracture


  • Refused to participate
  • Did not meet eligibility criteria


  • Pain Score 2 Hours After ED Presentation
    • FIB: 3.5
    • CA: 5.3
  • Pain Score at Rest on POD 3
    • FIB: 2.9
    • CA: 3.8
  • Pain Score With Transfers on POD 3
    • FIB: 4.7
    • CA: 5.9
  • Pain Score With Walking on POD 3
    • FIB: 4.1
    • CA: 4.8
  • Distance Ambulated in 2 Minutes on POD 3
    • FIB: 170.6 ft
    • CA: 100.0 ft
  • Walking and Stair Climbing Ability at 6 Weeks (Mean Functional Independence Measure Locomotion Score)
    • FIB: 10.3
    • CA: 9.1
  • Opioid Side Effects:
    • FIB: 3% (Also 33 – 40% less parenteral morphine equivalents)
    • CA: 12.4%


  • Multicenter randomized trial
  • Patients randomized using a computer-generated, stratified, blocked randomization list
  • Interviewers and trial investigators blinded to participant randomization status


  • Patients only enrolled between the hours of 8am – 8pm Sunday – Friday
  • No sham nerve blocks given in this study as it was considered unethical, potentially resulting in a placebo effect
  • 10% of cFIB catheters were either discontinued or became dislodged
  • 29% of the participants could not be contacted at 6 weeks
  • Many hospitals won’t have device for continuous infusion available

Author Conclusion: “Femoral nerve blocks performed by emergency physicians followed by continuous fascia iliaca blocks placed by anesthesiologists are feasible and result in superior outcomes.”

Study Take Home Point: In patients 60 years of age or older, presenting to the ED with hip fractures, femoral nerve blocks followed by continuous fascia iliaca blocks result in better pain control, improved mobility, improved functional status at 6 weeks and significantly less opioid side effects when compared to IV opioid analgesia.

Clinical Bottom Lines:

  • IN ketamine 1mg/kg provides effective analgesia in renal colic
  • Ibuprofen 400mg combined with acetaminophen 1000mg can reduce pain in mild to moderate extremity injuries
  • In renal colic, a ketorolac 15mg IV first strategy is still appropriate, with the addition of an IV opioid only if pain is not adequately controlled
  • In patients 60 years of age or older, presenting to the ED with hip fractures, femoral nerve blocks with 20mL of 0.5% bupivacaine not only improves pain, but also increase mobility and functional outcomes with significantly less medication side effects when compared to IV opioid agents


  1. Farnia MR et al. Comparison of Intranasal Ketamine Versus IV Morphine in Reducing Pain in Patients with Renal Colic. Am J Emerg Med 2017. PMID: 27931762
  2. Chang AK et al. Effect of Single Dose of Oral Opioid and Nonopioid analgesics on Acute Extremity Pain in the Emergency Department: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA 2017. [JAMA Epub]
  3. Hosseininejad SM et al. Efficacy and Safety of Combination Therapy with Ketorolac and Morphine in Patient with Acute Renal Colic; A Triple-Blind Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Bull Emerg Trauma 2017. PMCID: PMC5547203
  4. Morrison RS et al. Regional Nerve Blocks Improve Pain and Functional Outcomes in Hip Fracture: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Am Geriatr Soc 2016. PMID: 27787895

For More Thoughts on This Topic Checkout:

Post Peer Reviewed By: Anand Swaminathan (Twitter: @EMSwami)

The post REBEL Cast Ep 43: Pain Control and Opioid Sparing Options in the ED appeared first on R.E.B.E.L. EM - Emergency Medicine Blog.

The Rebellion in EM Clinical Conference

Rebellion in EM
May 11th – 13th, 2018
San Antonio, TX
Venue: Pearl Stable

Creating a Conference from a Blog

REBEL EM has been committed to critical appraisal of current research with application at the bedside to improve patient care. The constant influx of new published research makes it difficult to stay current with the latest and greatest. It seemed to make sense to introduce the Rebellion in EM conference which will tackle current research as well as dispel common myths and misperceptions in clinical care.

What Prompted it:

My 8 – 9 years as a faculty physician have all been in San Antonio, TX.  In that time, there has been only a handful of national level conferences in the area (I can literally count them on one hand).  This is unfortunate as there are 11 emergency medicine programs in the state and lots of rural areas with community practice providers.  This was a real opportunity to establish something that would occur annually and continue to improve medical education, as well as increase networking and unite many of the residency programs in the state.

How Did it Take Place:

The hardest part in doing this is securing funding and getting support.  Luckily, I work for a great group called Greater San Antonio Emergency Physicians (GSEP), which is a democratic community group. I pitched the idea to the board, who felt this was an amazing opportunity to do something amazing and the rest as they say is history.

Educational Design of a Conference:

  • Shorter Lectures (25 minutes)
  • Lectures With No Bullet Points
  • Clinical Application of Recent Literature (i.e. How does this impact my practice or should it?)
  • Mixing of Health Professions (RN, MD, DO, PharmD, EMT/Paramedic, etc…)
  • Placing Caps on Number of Registrations to Allow More Networking
  • Use of Twitter to Interact with the Audience as well as those not able to make the conference

What is the Cost for This Conference:

  • $100: EKG and Ultrasound Workshops
  • $200: Any Health Care Provider Who Has Not Completed Residency or Fellowship in EM
  • $400: All MD and DO Providers Who Have Completed Residency or Fellowship in EM

Will CME/CEs Be Offered:

  • The answer is YES. 19 hrs of AMA PRA Category 1 CME will be offered. For our RN colleagues, we have not forgotten about you, 19 hrs of CE will also be offered.

How Do I Register:

Go to

Here Are the Flyers to Share at Work

Post Peer Reviewed By: Anand Swaminathan (Twitter: @EMSwami)

The post The Rebellion in EM Clinical Conference appeared first on R.E.B.E.L. EM - Emergency Medicine Blog.