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Mar 112016
 
The Physiologically Difficult Airway – Part 1

To celebrate the birthday of Dr. Erin Hennessey [@ErinH_MD] – my former co-fellow and current Stanford intensivist-anesthesiologist – I will interpret a relatively recent and terrifically high-yield overview of physiologically challenging intubations.  In this must-read survey, the authors highlight particularly troublesome intubations not from the classic, anatomical perspective, but from the standpoint of the – [… read more]

Mar 012016
 
An Expected or Maladaptive Response to Infection?  Sepsis Reconsidered

“A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks … English … becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” George Orwell reminds us [… read more]

Feb 172016
 
Recruitment Maneuvers & PEEP in the Morbidly Obese

A recent study of applied respiratory physiology in the mechanically-ventilated, obese patient was published.  The ubiquitous focus on lung protective ventilation with “low” [physiological] lung volumes, and low plateau pressure may leave the obese patient susceptible to untoward respiratory embarrassment.  Excess abdominal and chest wall weight affect each of the following: reduction in lung volume, [… read more]

Feb 132016
 
ICU Physiology in 1000 Words: Driving Pressure & Stress Index

By Jon-Emile S. Kenny [@heart_lung] The problem with the lung in the acute respiratory distress syndrome [ARDS] is not that it is stiff, but rather, that it is small [1].  In the 1980s, CT scans of the lungs of patients with ARDS revealed that the functional lung was attenuated in size and that dependent densities [… read more]

Jan 212016
 
That Fallible IVC

A 58 year old man with ethanol-related cirrhosis is admitted to the floor with anuria and a rising creatinine.  Over the day, serial ultrasounds of his interior vena cava [IVC] consistently reveal that it is diminutive and collapsing.  He receives many liters of crystalloid without much change in his urine output.  In the middle of [… read more]

Jan 172016
 
Review: Lactate & Sepsis

On this snowy, Stockholm Sunday, I look out from my quarters on the Mälardrottningen across the still, icy waters and I think about a cirrhotic patient for whom I recently cared.  She presented with significant dyspnea as she had stopped taking her diuretics.  Instead, she was using excessive doses of her friend’s albuterol inhaler to treat [… read more]

Sep 172015
 
Overdiagnosis of pulmonary embolism on CT-angiogram by radiologists may be widespread

Contrasted CT-angiography of the chest, often called a “PE protocol CT,” has dramatically improved the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. When used in conjunction with validated clinical decision tools like modified Wells criteria, CT-angiography is highly sensitive (good at detecting PE when it’s there and ruling it out when it’s not) and specific (generating few false-positive [… read more]

Aug 272015
 
Limited cancer screening seems appropriate after unprovoked PE

Cancers can cause pulmonary embolism, and an unprovoked PE may signal an undiscovered cancer lurking in the body. In older studies, as many as 1 in 10 patients with unprovoked PE were diagnosed with cancer within a year. (The current terminology is that a PE is provoked if associated with a known cancer or another provoking factor, but [… read more]

Aug 252015
 
Dabigatran-induced bleeding: antidote (idarucizumab) on the way

New oral anticoagulants like dabigatran, apixaban and rivaroxaban have advantages over warfarin: not requiring regular monitoring for efficacy; faster onset of action; shorter half-lives. Unlike warfarin, they’ve had the significant disadvantage of having no proven antidote for the bleeding that inevitably occurs when any anticoagulant is given to thousands of people. [lawsuits] Boehringer Ingelheim, makers [… read more]

Aug 252015
 
Are central lines really needed for vasopressor infusions?

image: Wikipedia There’s only one sure way to prevent complications from a central line: don’t place one. Like many invasive interventions, some of central venous catheters’ indications have been called into question in recent years. Monitoring of central venous pressure and central venous oxygen saturation via central IV access — once considered essential to good care [… read more]

Aug 232015
 
2015 ATS Guidelines on Treatment of IPF Released

ATS Releases New Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatment Guidelines Recent Studies Bring New Recommendations by Lekshmi Santhosh, MD This month, the American Thoracic Society, European Respiratory Society, Japanese Respiratory Society and Latin American Thoracic Association released their updated guidelines on the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). They are free on the ATS website for all to peruse, but [… read more]

Aug 012015
 

ICU Physiology in 1000 Words Veno-Arterial Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (VA-ECMO) Jon-Emile S. Kenny M.D. [@heart_lung] Perhaps the most memorable patient of both my pulmonary and critical care fellowships was that of a very young woman who suffered from propofol-related infusion syndrome [PRIS]. As a consequence of PRIS, she endured multiple cardiac arrests and was placed [… read more]

Jul 172015
 
Recurrent PE risk after long-term warfarin therapy remains high (PADIS-PE)

Not long ago, doctors were taught that 6 months of anticoagulation was plenty for patients with unprovoked pulmonary embolism. That standard was never based on long-term outcomes studies. And as longer-range data started to come in — gulp — it was clear that large numbers of people treated with 6-month warfarin courses after unprovoked PE [… read more]

Jul 172015
 
Bridging anticoagulation for procedures after DVT/PE: usually, more harm than help?

“Bridging” anticoagulation — usually, interrupting chronic warfarin therapy, starting injectable or intravenous heparin, stopping just before an invasive procedure, restarting heparin and warfarin after, then stopping heparin — is a cumbersome and common practice in medicine. A new paper in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that for most patients taking anticoagulation after deep venous thrombosis (DVT) [… read more]

Jul 152015
 
Medicare will pay for death panels, I mean end-of-life counseling

Medicare announced last week it will finally pay doctors for their time spent talking to patients about their end-of-life preferences, among the most important medical decisions most people will make. The decision overcomes years of setbacks brought about by Sarah Palin’s politicizing of the Affordable Care Act’s provision for end-of-life counseling as endorsing “death panels” of [… read more]

Jul 022015
 
Direct thrombin inhibitors associated with heart attack risk in multiple trials

Direct thrombin inhibitors (DTIs) are anticoagulants (blood thinners) most often used as alternatives to heparin and warfarin. DTIs are approved by the FDA for prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolism (deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) and to prevent blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation. But multiple randomized trials suggest these widely used anticoagulants might cause heart [… read more]