Emily Damuth, MD

Blood pressure management in acute intracerebral hemorrhage

Does intensive blood pressure lowering to a target of < 140 mm Hg versus < 180 mm Hg impact outcome after acute intracerebral hemorrhage? Are there risks associated with targeting a lower systolic blood pressure? 

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Ventilator management of bronchopleural fistula

A 47-year-old man with COVID-19 pneumonia complicated by severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) suddenly desaturates. Point-of-care ultrasound and chest x-ray are consistent with pneumothorax. After placement of a pigtail catheter, hypoxemia persists and a large continuous air leak is present. What are the next steps in management of a suspected bronchopleural fistula? 

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Mechanical ventilation strategies in status asthmaticus

Less than 5 percent of patients hospitalized for acute asthma exacerbation will require mechanical ventilatory support. However, ventilator management in status asthmaticus is unique and the impact of increased airway resistance on ventilation strategies must be understood to avoid life-threatening complications like severe acidosis, barotrauma and hypotension. 

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Should remdesivir be utilized for severe COVID-19?

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises drastically and the global pandemic continues to change life as we know it, we are all hoping for news of effective treatment. Approximately 15 percent of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop pneumonia requiring supplemental oxygen and an additional 5 percent progress to critical illness and acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. Although numerous drugs have been investigated, only dexamethasone has demonstrated improved survival in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in a randomized controlled trial design. We now have data from 3 randomized controlled trials to guide the use of remdesivir for severe COVID-19.  

 

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TTP: Rapid diagnosis and management

You are working at a tertiary care center and a 55-year-old woman is transferred to you from an outside hospital for severe persistent thrombocytopenia of unknown origin. On arrival, she is mildly confused and tachycardic. The platelet count is 7K and the hemoglobin is 5.8. Peripheral blood smear demonstrates schistocytes consistent with microangiopathic hemolytic anemia. The diagnosis of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is suspected. TTP is a hematologic emergency: what are the next steps in management?

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Tracheostomy decannulation: To cap or not to cap?

A 49-year-old woman was intubated for acute hypoxemic respiratory failure secondary to pneumonia, which was complicated by empyema. She failed extubation and ultimately required tracheostomy for prolonged mechanical ventilation. After transfer to the intermediate care unit, she was successfully weaned from the ventilator for over 24 hours. She tolerated prolonged deflation of her tracheostomy cuff and swallowed water without aspiration. She underwent a tracheostomy tube occlusion test and there was no obstruction to air flow with a size 7 fenestrated tracheostomy tube in place. She is requiring suctioning once every 12 hours. You are assessing her readiness for tracheostomy decannulation and are considering the utility of a capping trial.    

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Hypercalcemic crisis

A 52-year-old woman with a history of hypertension sustained a large left frontoparietal intracerebral hemorrhage resulting in right-sided flaccid paralysis complicated by acute respiratory failure status post tracheostomy for prolonged mechanical ventilation. She is transferred to the step-down intensive care unit for ventilator weaning. Serum calcium level returns elevated at 11.3 mg/dL with a serum albumin level of 2.8 g/dL. What is the most likely cause of her hypercalcemia and how should it be managed?

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VA-ECMO for massive pulmonary embolism

A 60-year-old man presents to the ED after an episode of syncope. He is initially hemodynamically stable and undergoes CT demonstrating saddle pulmonary embolism. He returns from radiology with tachycardia and hypotension refractory to fluids and requiring vasopressor support. Bedside echo reveals RV dilation and severely reduced RV systolic dysfunction with septal flattening consistent with RV pressure overload. As you start systemic anticoagulation with heparin, you consider the indications for thrombolysis, surgical embolectomy and VA-ECMO.   

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Corticosteroids in ARDS

Several drugs have been investigated in patients with ARDS, including epoprostenol, nitric oxide, statins, and methylprednisolone, but have not improved survival. Meduri et al. performed an RCT demonstrating that methylprednisolone was associated with a reduction in lung injury score and duration of mechanical ventilation. While not powered to evaluate mortality, this trial raised interest in the use of corticosteroid to mitigate inflammatory lung injury. The 2017 Guidelines from the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) recommend steroids for treatment of ARDS based on a meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials demonstrating reduction in markers of inflammation and duration of mechanical ventilation, although many of the trials had a small sample size and some were performed without lung protective ventilation. In March 2020, Villar et al. published the largest randomized control trial of corticosteroid therapy for moderate to severe ARDS investigating the impact of dexamethasone on survival and duration of mechanical ventilation.  

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