Low-dose vs. High-dose Magnesium in Rapid Afib

Magnesium sulfate has been used as an adjunct medication for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF) due to its ability to lessen sinus node depolarization via calcium antagonism. Prior studies investigating magnesium in rapid AF administered varying dosages, often targeted post-surgical patients, and had small sample sizes. Dr. Bryan Hayes summarized previous studies on Academic Life in Emergency Medicine in 2016, focusing on IV magnesium for rate-control in ED-related settings and concluded it to be safe and moderately effective for reducing heart rate in rapid AF.

A new 2018 study by Bouida and colleagues aimed to determine the benefit of two different magnesium doses vs. placebo to control ventricular rate in ED patients with AF, when used with an AV nodal blocking agent.

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Ketamine for Acute Geriatric Pain in the ED

Subdissociative-dose ketamine (SDK) provides effective analgesia with lower rates of unwanted side effects when administered as a slow IV infusion. However, safety and efficacy studies have excluded geriatric patients until now, when Dr. Sergey Motov and colleagues strike again. SDK offers a much-needed pain management strategy for moderate to severe pain in this population who are often not ideal candidates for opioid analgesia.

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Nitrofurantoin vs. Fosfomycin for Uncomplicated UTI

Background

Nitrofurantoin and fosfomycin are both recommended by the IDSA guidelines as first-line options in the treatment of uncomplicated cystitis due to their low resistance rates and minimal collateral damage. However, deciding which to choose is often based on convenience or habit, rather than supported by literature. This study was performed to compare sustained clinical resolution and microbiologic response between these two agents in middle-aged women with uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections.

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Ondansetron and QTc Prolongation: Clinical Significance in the ED

Background

Just like many other medications, ondansetron can prolong the QTc interval on an electrocardiogram. In fact, the FDA released a Drug Safety Communication in 2012 recommending against IV doses > 16 mg to help limit the risk. A prospective, observational study in 40 cardiac patients (heart failure or ACS) found that ondansetron 4 mg IV prolonged the QTc interval by 19 msec for up to 2 hours after the dose (Hafermann, Drug Healthc Patient Safety 2011). A retrospective cohort study of 210 ondansetron doses in pediatric ICU patients found that the QTC  interval increased to 460-500 msec in 29% and to more than 500 msec in 11% (Trivedi, Pediatr Crit Care Med 2016). Underlying electrolyte abnormalities and organ dysfunction seemed to add the most risk.

But, what about in ED patients? What is the extent of QTC prolongation and is it clinically significant? Two groups have now published on this patient population. Here’s what they found.

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Topical TXA for Epistaxis in Patients on Antiplatelet Agents

Epistaxis is a common emergency department (ED) presentation, particularly in patients on antiplatelet and anticoagulation agents. Traditional remedies for bleeding include local vasoconstrictors, silver nitrate, and anterior nasal packing (ANP), each with variable efficacy. In recent years tranexamic acid (TXA) applied topically has gained popularity due to its efficacy, minimal systemic absorption lending to a low side-effect profile, and ease of use for the patient and provider (Zahed, Am J Emerg Med 2013; Ker, Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013). In this recently published study, Zahed et al narrowed their focus to explore clinical efficacy of topical TXA in patients on antiplatelet agents (aspirin, clopidogrel, or both).

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Don’t Completely Dismiss Charcoal’s Potential Benefit in Overdose

Activated charcoal is a funny intervention. There is plenty of data, with various drugs, demonstrating decreased absorption after its administration (much of it in healthy volunteers). However, there is a lack of quality evidence demonstrating benefit in clinically meaningful outcomes, such as mortality. In fact, the most recent Position Paper on Single-Dose Activated Charcoal (from 2005) suggests charcoal “should not be administered routinely in the management of poisoned patients.” This may be an oversimplification and I think Drs. Lotte Hoegberg and Anne-Bolette Gude astutely address this point in Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies:

“These opinions are unfortunately biased by the fact that most ‘routinely’ poisoned patients have low-risk exposures and do well with minimal intervention. Despite little scientific basis or support from clinical trials, less severely poisoned patients might benefit from activated charcoal in terms of reduced need for life support, monitoring, and antidotes.” (Isbister 2011)

And, there is data demonstrating a lower risk of seizures (venlafaxine, Kumar 2011), QT prolongation (citalopram, Friberg 2006), and delirium (promethazine, Page 2009) after charcoal administration. [Thanks, Dr. Martin Caravati, via Twitter!]

Conventional teaching is that the most benefit will be gained if charcoal is administered within the first hour after an overdose. This is important because we know that if charcoal is not administered in the prehospital setting, patients arriving to the Emergency Department are unlikely to receive it within that time frame.

The purpose of this brief post is to draw your attention to two recent articles that may change our thinking in when/how to use charcoal.

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Is IV Acetaminophen Worth it in the ED?

In the U.S., intravenous acetaminophen (IV APAP) has made its way into some emergency departments as part of a multi-modal pain management approach, in part due to a perception of more rapid and effective pain control compared to the oral/rectal routes. In an effort to reduce opioid use, IV APAP seemingly has the potential to increase the number of non-opioid options such as ketorolac, lidocaine, and ketamine. Indeed, in some post-surgery literature, IV APAP has demonstrated a reduction in opioid use. The utility of IV APAP (compared to PO/PR) in the ED is unclear as there is a paucity of head-to-head efficacy studies comparing IV vs PO therapy… until now.

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