Podcast #280: Isolated Aphasia in Stroke

Author: Aaron Lessen, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • Patients with an ischemic stroke from occlusion of the left middle cerebral artery often present with aphasia in addition to other neurological deficits.
  • A recent study looked at patients presenting with suspected stroke. Of the 700 patients recruited, 3% had isolated aphasia on exam.  On follow-up, none of the 3% had evidence of stroke on imaging. Underlying causes of the isolated aphasia in these patients included syncope, infections, seizures were the underlying cause.  

References: Gabriel Casella, Rafael H. Llinas, Elisabeth B. Marsh, Isolated aphasia in the emergency department: The likelihood of ischemia is low, Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, Volume 163, 2017, Pages 24-26, ISSN 0303-8467, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clineuro.2017.10.013.

Podcast #278: Subdural Hematomas

Educational Pearls

  • Subdural hematomas can happen in the elderly because of brain atrophy, and can manifest with neurological deficit.
  • Subdural hematomas are caused by rupture of the bridging veins of the brain. This can be caused by trauma, brain atrophy, or possibly by anticoagulant use. They are crescent-shaped on head CT.  
  • Epidural hematomas, in contrast, are caused by rupture of meningeal arteries secondary to trauma. They are usually lens-shaped on head CT.
  • Subdurals are difficult to pick up on head CT because they may be isodense to brain tissue.

References: Management of Recurrent Subdural Hematomas Desai, Virendra R. et al. Neurosurgery Clinics , Volume 28 , Issue 2 , 279 – 286

Podcast #270: Wound Botulism

 

Author: Don Stader, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • Wound botulism should be considered in patients with cutaneous lesions and neuromuscular weakness.
  • The toxin produced by clostridium botulinium is the causative agent. If forms spores, so it is very resistant to killing by heat.
  • It presents with weakness, most often in the extrocular muscles.
  • Treatment includes wound care and respiratory support. Anti-toxin is rarely used as it is stored at the CDC and must be flown in.

References: Kalka-Moll WM, Aurbach U, Schaumann R, Schwarz R, Seifert H. Wound Botulism in Injection Drug Users. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2007;13(6):942-943. doi:10.3201/eid1306.061336.

Podcast #259: Transient Ischemic Attacks

Author: Peter Bakes, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • A TIA is defined as focal neurological deficit that resolves within 24 hours and has negative imaging. The etiology is a transient thrombus, embolus, or narrowing of a branch of a cerebral artery.
  • Screening tests are generally negative and low-yield. MRI and vascular imaging are usually done to look for reversible causes.
  • Patients presenting with TIA are usually admitted because of a higher risk for stroke. However, there are some patients that are low-risk and do not require admission. Risk can be assessed using the “ABCD” mnemonic: Age>60, BP (history of HTN), Clinical presentation (area of deficit), Diabetes/Duration of symptoms. See reference link for scoring sheet.
  • Patients with a low enough score may be eligible for outpatient follow-up.

References: http://www.stroke.org/sites/default/files/resources/tia-abcd2-tool.pdf?docID

Podcast #241: Sphenopalatine Nerve Block

Author: Don Stader, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • Cluster headaches are usually intense, unilateral,  and involve the periorbital area..
  • CN V (Trigeminal) provides sensory and autonomic innervation the face and eyes, which play roles in headache pathology.
  • Cluster headaches can be treated with high flow oxygen, but a new treatment involves blocking the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) with lidocaine. Because sensory and autonomic branches of the trigeminal traverse the SPG, lidocaine will effectively treat a cluster headache.
  • To block the ganglion, intranasal lidocaine may be used, or a Q-tip soaked in 4% lidocaine can be applied to the most posterior aspect of the pharynx for 10-15 minutes.

References: https://www.aliem.com/2017/03/trick-sphenopalatine-ganglion-block-primary-headaches/

Podcast #230: Concussive Treatment

Author: Aaron Lessen, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • 2 studies this past year looked at pediatric and adolescent patients following a concussion. They found people who returned to activity sooner did better than those who went on “brain rest”.  
  • While patients should still follow up with their PCP following a concussion, it is ok for patients to return to physical activity as tolerated.

References: Grool AM, Aglipay M, Momoli F, Meehan WP, Freedman SB, Yeates KO, Gravel J, Gagnon I, Boutis K, Meeuwisse W, Barrowman N, Ledoux A, Osmond MH, Zemek R, for the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada (PERC) Concussion Team. Association Between Early Participation in Physical Activity Following Acute Concussion and Persistent Postconcussive Symptoms in Children and Adolescents. JAMA. 2016;316(23):2504-2514. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17396

Podcast #214: Dizziness

Author: Aaron Lessen, M.D.

Educational Pearls:

  • We can differentiate vertigo into benign problems such as vestibular problem (peripheral problem), or something more worrisome that originates in the brain (central problem).
  • Dizziness + other symptoms makes us think about origination in the CNS.  Symptoms include Dizziness, Diplopia, Dysarthria, Dysphagia, Dysmetria.

References:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/knowledge/160900/vertigo-causes-symptoms-treatments

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dizziness/basics/causes/con-20023004

Podcast #200: Non-traumatic Back Pain

Author: Don Stader M.D.

Educational Pearls:

  • Non-traumatic back pain is a very common complaint in the Emergency Department.
  • Conditions that can manifest with back pain include: ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, retroperitoneal bleeding, cauda equina syndrome, epidural abscess or cancer.
  • Patients with cauda equina syndrome or epidural abscess prefer to sit forward, while people with disc issues tend to sit upright.

References: https://emergencymedicinecases.com/episode-26-low-back-pain-emergencies/

 

Podcast #194: Atruamatic ICH

Author: Peter Bakes, M.D

Educational Pearls

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage is an intracranial bleed within the brain tissue or ventricles.
  • Subarachnoid aneurysm causes about 50% of all ICH.
  • Amyloid deposition can lead to ICH in elderly patients.
  • Hypertension is another common cause of atraumatic ICH, commonly leading to pontine, cerebellar, or basal ganglial bleeding. Bleeding in other locations is suggestive of a different etiology.
  • ICH will often present with depressed mental status, but specifically a patient with a systolic BP > 220 is suggestive of hypertensive ICH.
  • CT is the first diagnostic step. CTA should be considered when the bleeding is in an atypical area. Significant edema on imaging can be suggestive of a tumor.
  • Treatment should include hemostatic measures and BP control. Transfuse platelets if necessary and reverse any anticoagulation. BP target is <140 systolic. Monitor ICP if patient has AMS. Neurosurgical intervention is indicated when there is significant expansion of the hematoma with AMS or if the bleed is cerebellar.

References: Sahni R, Weinberger J. Management of intracerebral hemorrhage. Vascular Health and Risk Management. 2007;3(5):701-709. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291314/

Podcast #191: Blunt Cervical Trauma

Author: Chris Holmes M.D.

Educational Pearls:

  • Mechanism of injury involves hyperextension/hyperflexion
  • Pathophysiology: inside of the arteries in the neck becomes disrupted, similar to a dissection. This is thrombogenic and leads to cerebral infarction
  • Neurologic deficit is common.
  • Other risk factors include facial fracture and cervical-spine fracture.
  • Treat with anticoagulation – aspirin or other antiplatelet agents are appropriate.
  • Increase clinical suspicion when patient presents with neurological deficit and has a negative CT.

References: https://www.east.org/education/practice-management-guidelines/blunt-cerebrovascular-injury