Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Vidhi Parikh

12-month-old who was born full term is brought in by mom after patient was found to be cyanotic. Patient with vaccines UTD. Patient has been teething and mom notes that she has been applying benzocaine teething gel. Patient on arrival to the ER has perioral and digital cyanosis. His vital signs are as follows: T- 98.6 rectal; HR- 140; RR- 35; BP- 94/56; SpO2- 89% on RA. Patient is given blow by O2 with no improvement to oxygenation. What is the diagnosis? 

  1. Patent Foramen Ovale
  2. Aspirin Toxicity 
  3. Methemoglobinemia 
  4. Iron toxicity 
  5. Carbon monoxide poisoning 

Answer: C. Methemoglobinemia 

Patient has methemoglobinemia from the application of benzocaine for teething. Methemoglobinemia occurs when iron is oxidized from the ferrous (Fe2+) to the ferric (Fe3+) state. The ferric hemes of the methemoglobin do not bind O2. The ferric heme in the hemoglobin also has an increased affinity to O2 and therefore causes the hemoglobin dissociation curve to shift to the left causing less oxygen delivery. 

Farkas, Josh. “Methemoglobinemia.” EMCrit Project, 2 Oct. 2021,

Madrazo, Lorenzo. “Methemoglobinemia.” The Intern at Work, 31 Oct. 2021,

Swaminathan, Anand. “CORE EM: Methemoglobinemia.” – Emergency Medicine Education, 28 Dec. 2018, Accessed 31 May 2024.

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Edward Guo (Edited by Dr. Parikh)

A 65 year old male with a past medical history of type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia presents via EMS as a stroke alert. Patient developed confused speech and right upper extremity weakness 1 hour ago. Vital signs and point of care glucose are within normal limits. CT head and CTA head and neck demonstrate no acute intracranial abnormalities, and thrombolytics are administered. Ten minutes later, the patient develops rapidly progressive tongue and lip swelling. There is no response to intramuscular epinephrine. What is the likely etiology of the patient’s change in condition?

A: Hemorrhagic transformation

B: IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to thrombolytics

C: Mast cell activation from IV contrast

D: Thrombolytic side effect

Answer: D. Thrombolytic side effect

This patient is most likely experiencing orolingual angioedema, a known side effect of thrombolysis that is overall rare but in some reports has an incidence as high as 17%. It is caused by complement and kinin pathway activation by plasminogen. Patients who are already taking ACE inhibitors are at increased risk. Treatment involves discontinuing thrombolysis and managing similarly to other causes of angioedema. 

It is unlikely that intracranial hemorrhage would cause airway swelling. IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reactions require an initial sensitization exposure which makes this answer unlikely without prior administration of thrombolytics. Mast cell activation from IV contrast is possible but would likely have response to intramuscular epinephrine in addition to other physical exam findings such as urticaria or wheezing. 


Go S, Kornegay J. Stroke Syndromes. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9e. McGraw-Hill Education; 2020.

Astin, Matt. “TPA-Associated Angioedema- Rebel EM- Emergency Medicine Blog.”REBEL EM- Emergency Medicine Blog, https://www., 3 Apr. 2014,

Friday Board Review

Board Review with Dr. Kat Kaminski

A 4-month old female born at full term otherwise healthy presents to the ED after parents observed her “turning blue” and “breathing funny” for less than a minute that spontaneously self-resolved. Parents report no recent fever or illness and say this has never happened before. Upon arrival to the ED patient appears to be well appearing and in no acute distress, afebrile and with reassuring vital signs and physical exam. Parents ask if they can take her home. What do you do?

A. Tell the parents the baby needs to be admitted to the pediatric floor

B. Monitor the baby on pulse oximetry for another 2 hours and then discuss possible discharge with the parents

C. Tell the parents the baby is fine and discharge to home

D. Tell the parents the baby needs to be admitted to the PICU

Answer: Monitor the baby on pulse oximetry for another 2 hours and then discuss possible discharge with the parents

This baby presents with a BRUE, a Brief Resolved Unexplained Event (formerly known as ALTE, Apparent Life-Threatening Event) as defined by:

  • Sudden, brief, and now resolved episode of one or more of the following in an infant < 1 year age:
    • Cyanosis or pallor
    • Absent, decreased, or irregular breathing
    • Marked change in tone (hyper- or hypotonia)
    • Altered responsiveness
    • No explanation for the event after full history and exam

And according to the most recent American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, this patient is considered low risk according to the following criteria:

  • Age >60 days
  • Born >= 32 weeks’ gestation and corrected gestational age >=45 weeks
  • No CPR by trained medical provider
  • Event lasted <1 minute
  • First event

Therefore, this low risk patient may be safely discharged home with close pediatrician follow up after a period of observation and education provided to the parents about BRUEs. This is different than past practice where nearly all patients with BRUEs (then called ALTEs) were hospitalized. It should be noted that BRUEs can be related to a range of conditions both benign and more concerning. Possible etiologies include GERD, breath-holding spells, non-accidental trauma, and serious bacterial infection. The risk of a serious disorder presenting as a BRUE is unknown, therefore a thorough history and physical exam is essential.


Joel S. Tieder, Joshua L. Bonkowsky, Ruth A. Etzel, Wayne H. Franklin, David A. Gremse, Bruce Herman, Eliot S. Katz, Leonard R. Krilov, J. Lawrence Merritt, Chuck Norlin, Jack Percelay, Robert E. Sapién, Richard N. Shiffman, Michael B.H. Smith, for the SUBCOMMITTEE ON APPARENT LIFE THREATENING EVENTS, Pediatrics May 2016, 137 (5) e20160590; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-0590

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Edward Guo (Edited by Dr. Parikh)

A 40 year old female with a history of hyperlipidemia presents for abdominal pain. She has been having intermittent pain in her right upper quadrant after meals without vomiting or change in her bowel habits. Vital signs are within normal limits. She has mild tenderness to palpation to the right upper quadrant on exam with a negative Murphy’s sign. Point of care pregnancy test is negative. Her workup including CBC, BMP, LFTs, and lipase are unremarkable. A right upper quadrant ultrasound demonstrates numerous gallstones without evidence of cholecystitis. Which of the following is recommended for first line treatment of this patient’s suspected condition?

A: Acetaminophen

B: Gabapentin

C: Ketorolac

D: Morphine

Answer: Ketorolac

This patient is presenting with biliary colic which occurs by a gallstone causing periodic obstruction of the cystic duct. Management includes symptom control and outpatient surgical referral for cholecystectomy. NSAIDs are first line therapy. When administered parenterally, NSAIDs have similar analgesic effect compared to opioids for biliary colic. In addition, NSAIDs reduce the rate of short term complications such as acute cholecystitis. 

Acetaminophen is an antipyretic that has analgesic properties but is not first line for biliary colic. Gabepentin is typically used for neuropathic pain such as diabetic neuropathy or shingles. Opioids such as morphine are reserved for when NSAIDs are not effective in reducing pain but are not first line due to safety and side effects such as hypoventilation. It is known that opioids cause sphincter of Oddi spasm, but the clinical significance of this is unclear. 


Besinger B, Stehman CR. Pancreatitis and Cholecystitis. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9e. McGraw-Hill Education; 2020.

Colli  A, Conte  D, Valle  SD, Sciola  V, Fraquelli  M: Meta-analysis: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in biliary colic. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 35: 1370, 2012. [PubMed: 22540869]

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Guo (Edited by Dr. Parikh

A 72 year old male with a past medical history of Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes presents for progressive cough and shortness of breath for 3 days. Vitals include Temp 100.8F, HR 110, BP 126/80, RR 22, SpO2 89% on room air. Lung sounds are notable for crackles in the lower right lung. A chest x-ray shows focal consolidations of the right middle and right lower lobes with a moderate sized right pleural effusion. Aspiration of the pleural effusion demonstrates grossly purulent fluid with a pleural pH of 7.1. Which of the following antibiotic regimens is NOT appropriate for initial treatment of this patient’s condition?

A: Ampicillin & gentamicin

B: Cefepime & metronidazole

C: Ceftriaxone & ampicillin-sulbactam

D: Vancomycin & piperacillin-tazobactam

Answer: Ampicillin & gentamicin

This patient is presenting with pneumonia complicated by an empyema based on the pleural fluid findings. The initial treatment of an empyema consists of drainage with broad spectrum antibiotics that will cover Staphylococcus and anaerobes. Ampicillin has poor sensitivity against Staphylococcus and weak coverage of gram-negative organisms. Gentamicin is a potent aminoglycoside with good sensitivity against MSSA and gram-negatives but has poor anaerobic coverage. In addition, aminoglycosides have poor penetration into the pleural space. 

Cefepime, ceftriaxone, ampicillin-sulbactam, piperacillin-tazobactam have good sensitivity against MSSA. Vancomycin has additional coverage against MRSA. Metronidazole, ampicillin-sulbactam, and piperacillin-bactam have good coverage of anaerobic organisms.

Diagnostic Criteria for EmpyemaLight Criteria for Exudative Pleural Effusion (requires 1 of the following)
Aspiration of grossly purulent fluid plus one of the following:Pleural protein/serum protein > 0.5
    Positive gram stain or culturePleural LDH/serum LDH > 0.6
    Pleural fluid glucose < 40Pleural LDH > 2/3 upper limit of normal serum LDH
    Pleural pH < 7.2
    Pleural LDH > 1000


Mace SE, Anderson E. Lung Empyema and Abscess. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9e. McGraw-Hill Education; 2020.

Vaudaux P, Waldvogel FA. Gentamicin inactivation in purulent exudates: role of cell lysis. J Infect Dis. 1980;142(4):586-593. doi:10.1093/infdis/142.4.586

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Christine Collins

A 60 year old male presents to the hospital in cardiac arrest. After recognition of ventricular fibrillation, you successfully achieve ROSC with early CPR and defibrillation. The patient remains comatose. What is recommended post-resuscitation for this patient?

A: Maintain temperature at 30 degrees Celsius for 24 hours

B: Obtain and electroencephalogram

C: Targeted glucose range 90-130

D: Maintain oxygen saturation at 100%

Answer: Obtain an electroencephalogram

After cardiac arrest, the American Heart Association recommends early coronary artery catheterization (if suspected cardiac etiology), maintenance of hypothermia (between 32 and 36 degrees for 24 hours), controlled reoxygenation >94%, and avoidance of hypotension. For comatose patients, it’s recommended to obtain EEG to assess for subclinical seizure. About 12-22% of patient’s after cardiac arrest that remain comatose have epileptiform activity, and this can lead to worsening neurologic outcomes if not detected.


Callaway CW, Donnino MW, Fink EL, et al. Part 8: post-cardiac arrest care: 2015 American Heart Association guidelines update for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2015;132(18 Suppl 2):S465–82.

Krumholz A, Stern BJ, Weiss HD. Outcome from coma after cardiopulmonary resuscitation: relation to seizures and myoclonus. Neurology 1988; 38:401.

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Edward Guo (Edited by Dr. Parikh)

A 60 year old male with a past medical history of colon adenocarcinoma presents for left leg swelling after a road trip. He denies fever, chest pain, or shortness of breath. Vital signs are within normal limits. On exam, the left lower extremity is neurovascularly intact with a palpable distal pulse. There is swelling and pitting edema of the left thigh and calf compared to the right. Compartments are soft and there is full range of motion without difficulty. Which of the following is the recommended treatment of his suspected condition?

A: Low molecular weight heparin (LWMH)

B: Rivaroxaban

C: Unfractionated heparin (UFH)

D: Warfarin

Answer: Low molecular weight heparin

This patient is likely experiencing a deep vein thrombosis of his lower extremity given his multiple risk factors and exam findings. Therapeutic anticoagulation should be initiated in the emergency department as the patient follows up outpatient. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology guidelines, the recommended treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with cancer is LMWH. 

Rivaroxaban is a reasonable alternative but is associated with an increased risk of bleeding compared to LMWH. Subcutaneous UFH is not recommended for the outpatient treatment of acute VTE due to unpredictable bioavailability and effect requiring frequent monitoring. Warfarin causes an initial pro-thrombotic phase due to inhibition of protein C that would be potentially harmful in the case of active VTE which is why warfarin is typically co-administered with a secondary anticoagulant until the INR is in the desired therapeutic range for 2 consecutive days.


Key NS, Khorana AA, Kuderer NM, et al. Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis and Treatment in Patients With Cancer: ASCO Clinical Practice Guideline Update. J Clin Oncol. 2020;38(5):496-520. doi:10.1200/JCO.19.01461

Kline JA. Venous Thromboembolism Including Pulmonary Embolism. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9e. McGraw-Hill Education; 2020.
Slattery DE, Pollack, Jr CV. Thrombotics and Antithrombotics. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9e. McGraw-Hill Education; 2020.

Treatment of Venous Thromboembolism in Patients with Cancer: Subgroup Analysis of the Matisse Clinical Trials, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024. 

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Hilbmann (Edited by Dr. Parikh)

A 43-year-old female with a past medical history of myasthenia gravis presents to the emergency department with shortness of breath. She was just diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and being treated by her PCP with antibiotics. Prior to her developing dyspnea, the patient also mentions experiencing blurry vision and difficulty chewing. She appears in respiratory distress on exam with an SpO2 of 83% on room air. After intubation, what is the most urgent treatment for this patient?

  1. Ceftriaxone with Azithromycin
  2. Methylprednisolone
  3. Physostigmine
  4. Plasma Exchange

Answer is D.  Given this patient’s past medical history and symptoms she is most likely in myasthenic crisis, possibly exacerbated by her recent UTI. Ceftriaxone and Azithromycin (A) which could be used to treat community acquired pneumonia would not be helpful in this patient. While corticosteroids (B) are utilized in patients with myasthenic crisis, 60-80 mg of prednisone is usually the corticosteroid of choice, this treatment would not rapidly change the patient’s clinical status. Physostigmine (C.) is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor often utilized for anticholinergic toxicity. Pyridostigmine is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor often used as long acting treatment for myasthenia gravis. Treatment for myasthenic crisis includes treating any contributing factors (infection), beginning rapid therapy with plasma exchange or IVIG, and high dose steroids or other immunomodulators. You may want to consider discontinuing acetylcholinesterase inhibitors medications temporarily (as they can increase respiratory secretions) until beginning immunomodulating therapy. 


Wendell LC, Levine JM. Myasthenic crisis. Neurohospitalist. 2011 Jan;1(1):16-22. doi: 10.1177/1941875210382918. PMID: 23983833; PMCID: PMC3726100.

Myasthenia Gravis (no date) REBEL EM – Emergency Medicine Blog. Available at: (Accessed: 11 April 2024). 

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Edward Guo (Edited by Dr. Parikh)

A postpartum 34 year old female with a past medical history of hypertension presents for shortness of breath. Symptoms have been progressive over one month. She called EMS today when she was too short of breath to walk up one flight of stairs to care for her 13 week old infant. She denies fever, cough, chest pain, or recent illness and is not taking any oral contraceptives. Vital signs include Temp 99.0F, HR 96, BP 170/90, RR 22, SpO2 95% on room air. On exam, she has conversational dyspnea with no increased work of breathing. There are rales at the bilateral lung bases and 2+ pitting edema of the bilateral lower extremities. A bedside echocardiogram is notable for a dilated left ventricle with reduced ejection fraction. Which of the following is the most likely etiology of her symptoms? 

A: Cardiac infiltrative disease

B: Coronary artery atherosclerosis

C: Venous thromboembolism

D: None of the above

Answer: None of the above

This patient is likely presenting with peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare but potentially fatal complication of pregnancy. The cause is unknown and most commonly occurs in the last month of gestation or within 5 months of delivery. The presenting symptoms and overall management of the condition are similar to other causes of congestive heart failure. Most patients will recover normal ejection fraction within the first 6 months of delivery. Ventricular dysrhythmias caused by persistent dilated cardiomyopathy may warrant an implantable defibrillator-pacemaker.

Cardiac infiltrative diseases such as amyloidosis or sarcoidosis most commonly cause diastolic dysfunction, not systolic dysfunction. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of congestive heart failure but is unlikely in a 34 year old with minimal risk factors. A pulmonary embolism would cause right heart failure, not left ventricular systolic dysfunction.


Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
Most commonly occurs in last month of pregnancy or within 5 months of delivery
Dilated cardiomyopathy without previous heart disease
Treat similarly to other causes of congestive heart failure
Majority of patients recover normal ejection fraction


Young JS. Maternal Emergencies After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy and in the Peripartum Period. In: Tintinalli JE, Ma O, Yealy DM, Meckler GD, Stapczynski J, Cline DM, Thomas SH. eds. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 9e. McGraw-Hill Education; 2020.

Arany Z, Elkayam U. Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. Circulation. 2016 Apr 5;133(14):1397-409. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.020491. PMID: 27045128.

“Peripartum Cardiomyopathy – Summary 1. Definition …” GrepMed, 16 Sept. 2020, Accessed 4 Apr. 2024.

Friday Board Review

Board Review by Dr. Vidhi Parikh

43-year-old with woman with history of insulin dependent diabetes and HTN who presents with vision loss of her L eye. Patient states 1 day prior she initially had blurred vision, followed by sudden vision loss 2 hours after the onset of symptoms. Patient with a frontal headache but denies any weakness or numbness. Vitals are as follows: BP- 145/90; HR- 98; T- 98.7; SpO2- 98% on RA; RR- 17. Visual acuity: 20/60 on the R, 20/200 on the L. Patient with intact extra ocular movements and pupils are equal and reactive to light. Fundoscopic exam of the L eye is shown below: 

Acute CRVO

What is the diagnosis? 

  1. Central retinal vein occlusion 
  2. Central retinal artery occlusion 
  3. Bacterial Endocarditis 
  4. Diabetic Retinopathy 
  5. Macular Degeneration 

Answer: A

Patient initially started with blurred vision which then progresses to sudden vision loss which is characteristic of central retinal vein occlusion whereas in central retinal artery occlusion it presents with sudden vision loss. What is pathognomonic on the fundoscopic exam is the blood and thunder appearance. Usually with retinal artery occlusion, a macular cherry red spot is seen. Cotton wool spots are pathognomonic for diabetes/HTN and Roth spots for Endocarditis. 

Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO) vs Central ...

“Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO) vs Central …” GrepMed, 1 Oct. 2018,

Diagnosis and management of central retinal vein occlusion. (2020, May 28). American Academy of Ophthalmology.