Critical Care

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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Critical Procedures: How to Create a Pericardiocentesis Model

Pericardiocentesis is a rarely performed, but potentially life-saving procedure. Commerical models are prohibitively expensive, but students and residents (and critical care fellows) still need to learn the mechanics, ideally with an ultrasound compatibile model. This week's post gives a step by step guide towards making a cheap, easy to fabricate phantom based on this fantastic paper published in the Journal of Emergency Medicne 2012:

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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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