Can I estimate the central venous pressure (CVP) of my patient with dyspnea at the bedside by using point of care ultrasound (POCUS)?

Absolutely! Not only can POCUS be used to estimate the CVP by measuring the jugular venous pressure (JVP), it may also be more reliable than the traditional—often challenging—visual method of looking for internal jugular (IJ) waveforms in the neck.1

To estimate the CVP by POCUS, first position the patient in a comfortable (usually semi-recumbent) position.   Select “vascular” (ie, high frequency) setting on your device (linear array probe for traditional ultrasound devices).  With the probe in the transverse plane (ie,  perpendicular to the IJ) and the orientation marker pointing to the right of the patient, slowly slide the probe cranially until the IJ appears to collapse during end-expiration, a point commonly referred to as the “meniscus” (CLIP 1 below). Measure the vertical distance between the meniscus and the sternal angle and, just as you would using the traditional method, add 5 cm (see limitation below) to calculate the height of the JVP, with values > 8 cm considered elevated (Figure 1 below).1,2,3

You can also look for the point of JVP collapse in the longitudinal axis by rotating the transducer 90° clockwise (CLIP 2 below).  Here, the shape of the IJ resembles a wine bottle with the collapsed portion or the tip of the tapered portion or triangle, representing the meniscus.3

A major limitation of estimating the CVP by visualization of JVP or by POCUS is the assumption that the distance between the right atrium and the sternal angle is constant at 5 cm.  It turns out that this distance may potentially vary among patients depending on their body habitus and position.4    A cool study from 2015, however, more accurately determined this distance by adjusted ultrasound views of the center of the right atrium. 5    Clearly, bedside estimation of CVP by POCUS will continue to be refined in the future. 

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that the traditional non-invasive method of estimating CVP by examining neck veins was first proposed in 1930 by Sir Thomas Lewis, a British cardiologist, who has been called the “father of clinical cardiac electrophysiology” and coined the terms “pacemaker,” “premature contractions,” and “auricular fibrillation”?6,7

 

Clip 1. Transverse visualization of the internal jugular vein (IJV) by using POCUS. The meniscus is the point of IJV collapse during end-expiration. 

 

Figure 1. Measurement of the jugular venous pressure (JVP) by POCUS. Add 5 cm (green arrow) to the distance between the meniscus (internal jugular collapse on the transverse view or tip of the tapering zone on the longitudinal view) and the sternal angle (red arrow).

Clip 2. Longitudinal visualization of the internal jugular vein (IJV) by using POCUS. The meniscus is the tip of the tapering zone or triangle of the IJV. 

 

 

 

Contributed by Woo Moon D.O., Mercy Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri

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References

1. Wang L, Harrison J, Dranow E, Aliyev N, Khor L. Accuracy of ultrasound jugular venous pressure height in predicting central venous congestion. Ann Intern Med 2021; 175:344-51.

2. McGee MD S. Evidence-Based Physical Diagnosis. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2021.

3. Lipton B. Estimation of central venous pressure by ultrasound of the internal jugular vein. Am J Emerg Med 2000;18(4):432–4.

4. Istrail, L. POCUS and the jugular venous pressure: A deep dive. POCUS Med Ed, November 12. 2021. POCUS and the Jugular Venous Pressure: A Deep Dive (pocusmeded.com)

5. Xing C-Y, Liu Y-L, Zhao M-L, et al. New method for nonivasive quantification of central venous pressure by ultrasound. Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging 2015;8/ https://doi.org/10.116/CIRCIMAGING.114.003085. New Method for Noninvasive Quantification of Central Venous Pressure by Ultrasound (ahajournals.org)

6. Sir Thomas Lewis – the Father of clinical cardiac electrophysiology | SciHi Blog [Internet]. [cited 2023 Feb 2]; Available from: http://scihi.org/thomas-lewis-cardiac-electrophysiology/

7. Lewis T. Remarks on early signs of cardiac failure of the congestive type. Br Med J 1930;1(3618):849–52.

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

Can I estimate the central venous pressure (CVP) of my patient with dyspnea at the bedside by using point of care ultrasound (POCUS)?

What are the major changes in the 2023 evaluation and management (E/M) coding guidelines affecting the hospitalists?

One of the biggest changes in the 2023 E/M guidelines will be a shift away from billing by history and physical exam to code levels that are now based on medical decision making and time, matching the previous documentation update for ambulatory services made in 2021.1

Along the same line, clinicians are no longer required to document a certain number of systems, past medical and family history and other information that may not be immediately relevant to active patient problems.  A “medically appropriate history and physical” is still required but it no longer has a role in code selection. If you use time-based billing, you are no longer required to document just the time spent on counseling and/or coordination of care but make sure to document all the work you performed on the date of the encounter.

Another notable change is collapsing of the observation CPT codes into the inpatient codes, so you should bill the same code for patients regardless of whether they are inpatient or observation.

The Medical Decision Making (MDM) table is also shifting to align with the office/outpatient table. Recall that the MDM is comprised of 3 domains: 1. Number and complexity of problems addressed at the encounter; 2. Amount and/or complexity of data to be reviewed and analyzed: and 3. Risk of complications and/or morbidity or mortality of patient management (for further information see also a relate Pearl).

One good thing that may come out of these changes is a move away from unnecessary “note bloat” with several pages that usually has very little relevance to the active patient problems or what is actually done each day.  Hopefully, these changes will encourage providers to better document their medical decision making, and the time spent doing it.

In short, when writing your notes, make sure you clearly address the most important question: “What did I do for this patient today?” 1

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Reference

  1. Quinn R. E/M coding changes for 2023. The Hospitalist 2023; 27: 10. E/M Coding Changes for 2023 – The Hospitalist (the-hospitalist.org)

 

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

What are the major changes in the 2023 evaluation and management (E/M) coding guidelines affecting the hospitalists?

Why Does My Young Female Patient Have Recurrent Spontaneous Pneumothoraces?

Causes of spontaneous pneumothorax are legion, including cigarette use, genetic predisposition, or most commonly subpleural bleb rupture. 1 However, in cases without an apparent cause, a young female patient with recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax should routinely be asked about the timing of the pneumothorax in relation to her menstrual periods.  If related, catamenial pneumothorax (CP)— also known as menses-associated pneumothorax—should also be considered.  

CP is commonly defined as 2 or more episodes of spontaneous pneumothoraces occurring within 72 hours of onset of menstruation. 2, 3 Classically, CP occurs in females between the ages of 30-40 years with a history of endometriosis and recurrent right-sided pneumothorax.

As for potential mechanisms to explain catamenial pneumothorax, several theories have been proposed, including the passage of air through the vagina and uterus during times of decreased cervical mucus production and peritoneal cavity into the pleural space via diaphragmatic fenestrations. 3 Another potential mechanism is the retrograde migration of endometrial tissue from the uterine lining via the right paracolic gutter into the pleural space through defects in the diaphragm. Endometrial necrosis following monthly cycles may then create air blebs and pneumothorax. 3,4 Although CP is the most common presentation of thoracic endometriosis, a diagnosis of endometriosis is not required for its diagnosis.3, 5

Initial evaluation of CP often includes chest X-ray, CT, or MRI which may show not only pneumothorax but also diaphragmatic nodules or fenestrations; CA-125 levels may also be elevated in CP due to endometriosis. 2,3,9  Endometriosis-related CP is diagnosed via video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).  

Treatment includes surgical and medical options but, ultimately, the goal is to prevent recurrence which is more likely in CP compared to other pneumothoraces. 3, 6 Surgical approaches such as VATS, pleurodesis, and diaphragmatic plication or repair with mesh, may be considered but recurrence rates (8-40%) are common. 3,7 Treatment options also include hormone-suppression therapy resulting in atrophy of ectopic endometrial glands (eg, estrogen-progesterone oral contraceptives and gonadotropin-releasing-hormone [GNRH] agonists such as leuprolide). 2, 7

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that a condition called catamenial epilepsy also clusters around menstruation due to the diminished protective effect of progesterone against seizures?  10

Contributed by Mariam Krikorian, Medical Student (Lincoln Memorial University) Mercy Hospital-St. Louis

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References

  1. Sahn, Steven A., Heffer, John E. Spontaneous Pneumothorax. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:858-874. https://www-nejm-org.lmunet.idm.oclc.org/doi/10.1056/NEJM200003233421207?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed.
  2. Haga, T., Kumasaka, T., Kurihara, M, etal. Immunohistochemical Analysis of Thoracic Endometriosis. Path Intl, 2013;63(9);429-434. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pin.12089.
  3. Visouli, A. N., Zarogoulidis, K., Kougioumtzi, I., etal. Catamenial Pneumothorax. J Thora Dis. 2014;6(4). https://jtd.amegroups.com/article/view/3205/html.
  4. Rousset-Jablonski, C., Alifano, M., Plu-Bureau, G., etal. A. Catamenial Pneumothorax and Endometriosis-Related Pneumothorax: Clinical Features and Risk Factors. Mol Hum Reprod. 2011;26(99);2322-2329. https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/26/9/2322/720483.
  5. Korom, S., Canyurt, H., Missbach, A., etal. Catamenial Pneumothorax Revisited: Clinical Approach and Systematic Review of the Literature. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surgery. 2004;128(4);502-508. https://www.jtcvs.org/article/S0022-5223(04)00772-X/fulltext.
  6. Haga, T., Kurihara, M., Kataoka, H., etal. Clinical-Pathological Findings of Catamenial Pneumothorax: Comparison Between Recurrent Cases and Non-Recurrent Cases. Ann Thorac. 2014;202(6);202-206. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/atcs/20/3/20_oa.12.02227/_article.
  7. Leong, A. C., Coonar, A. S., Lang-Lazdunski, L. L. Catamenial Pneumothorax: Surgical Repair of the Diaphragm and Hormone Treatment. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2006;88(6). https://publishing.rcseng.ac.uk/doi/10.1308/003588406X130732.
  8. Marjański, T., Sowa, K., Czapla, A., etal. Catamenial Pneumothorax – A Review of the Literature. Polish Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2016;13(2);117-121. https://www.termedia.pl/Catamenial-pneumothorax-a-review-of-the-literature,40,27920,0,1.html.
  9. Bagan, P., Le Pimpec Barthes, F., Assouad, J, etal. Catamenial Pneumothorax: Retrospective Study of Surgical Treatment. Ann Thorac. 2022;75(22);378-381. https://www.annalsthoracicsurgery.org/article/S0003-4975(02)04320-5/fulltext.
  10. Herzog, Andrew. Catamenial Epilepsy: Definition, Prevalence, Pathophysiology and Treatment. Elsevier Sci. 2008;17;151-159. https://pubmed-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.lmunet.idm.oclc.org/18164632/.

 

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

Why Does My Young Female Patient Have Recurrent Spontaneous Pneumothoraces?

Is loss of sense of smell or taste much less common in Omicron-related Covid-19 compared to earlier strains of SARS-CoV-2?

Absolutely! Although loss of smell was a cardinal symptom of Covid-19 with earlier strains of SARS-CoV-2 (eg, Wuhan, alpha, delta), on average omicron causes olfactory dysfunction in only 13% of patients, 3-4 times lower than the earlier strains.1

But why is omicron less likely to causes loss of smell or taste? There may be at least 2 explanations. First explanation revolves around the solubility of omicron in the olfactory mucus. Recall that to access the olfactory epithelium, viruses and other pathogens have to first dissolve in and penetrate the mucus layer that not only allows odorants to reach the olfactory receptors but also protects the olfactory epithelium from toxins and pathogens. Hydrophilic and acid proteins can penetrate the mucus barrier more easily because they are more soluble in the mucus layer.1

What does this have to do with omicron? Well, it turns out that omicron with all its mutations in the spike protein is actually more alkaline than the Wuhan and delta strains. This means that omicron may have lower solubility in mucus and have a harder time reaching and infecting the olfactory epithelium. 1 Since the composition of olfactory mucous differs significantly from other mucus layers in the respiratory tract, omicron may still cause disease.2

Another potential mechanism may be related to the inefficiency of omicron in other steps necessary to infect nonneuronal cells of the olfactory epithelium within the nasal cavity, such as the endosomal route. 1 It turns out that cells of the olfactory epithelium express less of the endosomal membrane fusion proteases (cathepsins) which omicron prefers for cell entry! Fascinating! 

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that only 5-10% of functional olfactory neurons are required for a relatively normal sense of smell? This means that SARS-CoV-2 needs to eliminate at least 90% of all support cells of the olfactory neurons within a 3-4 day period (before their regeneration) for the host to notice anosmia?

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References

  1. Butowt R, Bilinska K, von Bartheld C. Why does the omicron variant largely spare olfactory function? Implications for the pathogenesis of anosmia in coronavirus disease 2019. J Infect Dis 2022;226:1304-1308. Why Does the Omicron Variant Largely Spare Olfactory Function? Implications for the Pathogenesis of Anosmia in Coronavirus Disease 2019 – PubMed (nih.gov)
  2. Yoshikawa K, Wang H, Jaen C, et al. The human olfactory cleft mucus proteome and its age-related changes. Sci Rep 2018;8:17170. The human olfactory cleft mucus proteome and its age-related changes – PMC (nih.gov)
  3. Harding JW, Getchell TV, Margolis FL. Degeneration of the primary olfactory pathway in mice. V. Long-term effect of intranasal ZNS04 irrigation on behavior, biochemistry and morphology. Brain Res 1978;140:271-85. Denervation of the primary olfactory pathway in mice. V. Long-term effect of intranasal ZnSO4 irrigation on behavior, biochemistry and morphology – PubMed (nih.gov)

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

Is loss of sense of smell or taste much less common in Omicron-related Covid-19 compared to earlier strains of SARS-CoV-2?

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions based on some of the most frequently viewed pearls on Pearls4Peers during the last quarter!

Please answer each question first then click on the link provided for pearls!

The urine culture of my female patient with urgency is growing Lactobacillus spp.  Should I treat it? – Pearls4Peers 

What is the significance of teardrop cells (dacrocytes) on the peripheral smear of my patient with newly-discovered pancytopenia? – Pearls4Peers

What does an “indeterminate” result in QuantiFERON Gold in-Tube test for latent tuberculosis really mean? – Pearls4Peers

Why is serum AST levels generally higher than ALT in alcohol-induced liver injury? – Pearls4Peers

What’s causing an isolated GGT elevation in my patient with an abnormal alkaline phosphatase on her routine admission lab? – Pearls4Peers

How should I interpret the growth of “normal respiratory flora” from sputum of my patient with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP)? – Pearls4Peers

Is meropenem a good choice of antibiotic for treatment of my patient’s intraabdominal infection involving enterococci? – Pearls4Peers

Is iron therapy contraindicated in my patient with active infection? – Pearls4Peers

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Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

 

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions based on some of the most frequently viewed pearls on Pearls4Peers during the last quarter!

What’s the connection between flu vaccination and lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease?

As far fetched that it may sound, there is growing evidence that flu vaccination is associated with lower risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).1

The most compelling evidence to date comes from a 2022 retrospective, propensity-matched study involving a nationwide sample of over 2 million U.S. adults ≥ 65 years old.1  This study found a 40% reduction in the risk of incident AD during the 4-year follow-up period when individuals receiving at least 1 dose of flu vaccine were compared to those who did not receive flu vaccination during the study period (number needed to treat-NTT 29.4). 

Despite its limitations, the results of the above study were concordant with those of several smaller studies that found an association between flu vaccination and lower risk of dementia of any cause.1-3  A 2022 meta-analysis also concluded that flu vaccination was associated with significantly lower risk (33%) of dementia among older people. Interestingly, in a study involving veterans, receipt of ≥6 doses of flu vaccines (not fewer) was associated with lower risk of dementia.4

Several hypotheses have been posited to explain the potential beneficial impact of flu vaccination on the risk of dementia, including: 1. Influenza-specific mechanisms, such as mitigation of damage secondary to influenza infection and/or epitopic similarity between influenza proteins and AD pathology; 2. Non-influenza-specific training of the innate immune system; and 3. Non-influenza-specific changes in adaptive immunity via lymphocyte-mediated cross-reactivity.1

So, in addition to its protective effect against severe influenza,5 and its association with lower risk of hospitalization for cardiac disease and stroke and reduction in death due to combined cardiovascular disease events (eg, heart attacks/strokes),  flu vaccination may be protective against AD! Who would have thought that a simple vaccine may have far reaching health benefits?

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that mice infected with non-neurotropic influenza strains have been found to have excessive microglial activation and subsequent alteration of neuronal morphology, particularly in the hippocampus, and that in APP/PS1 transgenic mice, peripheral influenza infection induces persistent elevations of amyloid- (A) plaque burden?Intriguing indeed!!!

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References

  1. Bukhbinder AS, Ling Y, Hasan O, et al. Risk of Alzheimer’s disease following influenza vaccination: A claims-based cohort study using propensity score matching. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2022; 88:1061-1074. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26945371/  
  2. Liu JC, Hsu YP, Kao PF, et al. Influenza vaccination reduces dementia risk in chronic kidney disease patients: A population-based cohort study. Medicine (Baltimore) 2016 95 :32868. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26945371/
  3. Wiemken TL, Salas J, Hoft DF, et al. Dementia risk following influenza vaccination in a large veteran cohort. Vaccine 2021;39:5524-5531. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34420785/
  4. Veronese N, Demurtas J, Smith L, et al. Influenza vaccination reduces dementia risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ageing Res Rev 2022;73:101534. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34861456/
  5. Godoy P, Romero A, Soldevila N, et al. Influenza vaccine effectiveness in reducing severe outcomes over six influenza seasons, a case-cae analysis, Spain, 2010/11 to 2015/16.  Euro Surveill 2018;23:1700732. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6208006/
  6. Hosseini S, Michaelsen-Preusse K, Schughart K, et al. Long-term consequences of non-neurotropic H3N2 influenza A virus infection for the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms. Front. Cell. Neurosci 28 April 2021; https://doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2021.643650 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2021.643650/full

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

 

What’s the connection between flu vaccination and lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease?

My patient with choledocholithiasis presents with acute abdominal pain, bile duct dilatation and markedly elevated serum aminotransferases (AST and ALT).  Can her markedly elevated AST and ALT levels be caused by cholelithiasis with bile duct obstruction?  

Although markedly increased serum alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) are often considered a marker for severe hepatocellular injury or necrosis (particularly when levels exceed 1000 IU/L), occasionally such elevations may also be due to isolated acute biliary duct obstruction caused by choledocholithiasis.1  

In one case series, patients  diagnosed with choledocholithiasis were found to have transient elevations in their AST/ALT (>1000 units/L) directly proportional to the degree of common bile duct dilation in the absence of any hepatocellular disease on imaging. These levels were found to rapidly fall following intervention with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). 2   Intriguingly, the authors of this study suggest that patients who present with severe abdominal pain associated with an acute and markedly elevated serum aminotransferase levels, are more likely to have acute biliary obstruction than hepatocellular disease.3  Several other case series have also shown similar elevations of serum aminotransferases in choledocholithiasis, with some levels reaching >2000 IU/L.4  

Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, including pressure-induced damage of hepatocytes and bile salt-induced hepatocyte injury in the setting of acute biliary duct obstruction.2 Of interest, some have proposed that the gallbladder may minimize elevations in serum aminotransferases by protecting the liver from rapid increases in biliary duct pressure.  In fact, more robust elevations in aminotransferases in choledocholithiasis have been observed in those who have had cholecystectomy.4  

So even though choledocholithiasis is traditionally associated with a “cholestatic” pattern of enzyme elevations—with elevated alkaline-phosphatase, and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) levels 1,3—when associated with bile duct obstruction, it  can also be associated with markedly elevated ALT and AST.  

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that when assessing for choledocholithiasis, magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is more sensitive than ultrasound (81% vs 18-74 %).4,5,6  

Contributed by Connor S. Shaw, D.O., Mercy Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri

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References  

  1. Feldman, Mark, et al. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. Elsevier, 2021.  
  2. Tetangco, Eula Plana, et al. “Markedly Elevated Liver Enzymes in Choledocholithiasis in the Absence of Hepatocellular Disease.” Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports, vol. 4, no. 2, 2016, p. 232470961665109., https://doi.org/10.1177/2324709616651092. 
  3. De Angelis C, Marietti M, Bruno M, Pellicano R, Rizzetto M. Endoscopic ultrasound in common bile duct dilatation with normal liver enzymes. World J Gastrointest Endosc. 2015 Jul 10;7(8):799-805. doi: 10.4253/v7.i8.799. PMID: 26191344; PMCID: PMC4501970.
  4. Agahi, A., and A. McNair. “Choledocholithiasis Presenting with Very High Transaminase Level.” Case Reports, vol. 2012, no. nov22 2, 2012, https://doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2012-007268.
  5. Makmun, Dadang, et al. “Sensitivity and Specificity of Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography versus Endoscopic Ultrasonography against Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography in Diagnosing Choledocholithiasis: The Indonesian Experience.” Clinical Endoscopy, vol. 50, no. 5, 2017, pp. 486–490., https://doi.org/10.5946/ce.2016.159.
  6. Ferri, João Victor, et al. “Níveis Elevados De Transaminases Em Um Caso De Coledocolitíase: A Importância Do Reconhecimento Deste Padrão.” Revista De Medicina, vol. 96, no. 2, 2017, p. 131., https://doi.org/10.11606/issn.1679-9836.v96i2p131-133.   

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

 

My patient with choledocholithiasis presents with acute abdominal pain, bile duct dilatation and markedly elevated serum aminotransferases (AST and ALT).  Can her markedly elevated AST and ALT levels be caused by cholelithiasis with bile duct obstruction?  

Should I consider treating my patient with heart failure with an SGLT2 inhibitor?

Absolutely! Although sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are often used for their antidiabetic properties, more recently they have been shown to have extraordinary benefits in patients with heart failure.

 In 2015, a large randomized controlled trial, EMPA-REG OUTCOME, showed that empagliflozin significantly lowered overall death, death from cardiovascular events, and hospitalizations for heart failure in patients who had type II diabetes (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease1.

Later, 2 other randomized controlled trials showed that patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fractions (HFrEF), irrespective of a diagnosis of T2DM, had lower rates of death from cardiovascular causes and better heart failure outcomes when treated with SGLT2 inhibitors2,3.

In 2021, the EMPEROR Preserved trial showed that SGLT2 inhibitors provide significant clinical benefit for patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), irrespective of the presence of T2DM4. In addition, multiple studies have shown substantial benefit to starting SGLT2 inhibitors during or shortly after a hospitalization for heart failure.5,6,7

 The effectiveness of SGLT2 inhibitors in heart failure is also reflected in the updated guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association8  that recommend  use of SGLT2 inhibitors in patients with chronic symptomatic HFrEF.  In addition,  the guidelines state that SGLT2 inhibitors can be beneficial in decreasing heart failure hospitalizations and cardiovascular mortality for patients mildly reduced ejection fraction and those with HFpEF.

 Potential mechanisms of action of SGLT2 inhibitors in heart failure include reduction in myocardial oxidative stress, decrease cardiac preload and afterload, increase endothelial function, decrease arterial stiffness, and increase muscle free fatty acid uptake which leads to increased availability of ketones during times of stress.9 

So the data to date suggest that we should consider SGLT2 inhibitors as part of our armamentarium for treatment of heart failure unless, of course, there are contraindications, including pregnancy/risk of pregnancy, breastfeeding, eGFR <30mL/min/1.73 m2, symptoms of hypotension, systolic blood pressure <95mmHg, or a known allergic/other adverse reactions. 10

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that SGLT 2 inhibitors are derived from phlorizin, a naturally occurring phenol glycoside first isolated back in 1835 from the bark of apple tree in 1835? 11

Contributed by Yisrael Wallach, MD, St. Louis, Missouri

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References

  1. Zinman, B., Wanner, C., Lachin, J. M., Fitchett, D., Bluhmki, E., Hantel, S., … & Inzucchi, S. E. (2015). Empagliflozin, cardiovascular outcomes, and mortality in type 2 diabetes. New England Journal of Medicine, 373(22), 2117-2128. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26378978/
  2. McMurray, J. J., Solomon, S. D., Inzucchi, S. E., Køber, L., Kosiborod, M. N., Martinez, F. A., … & Langkilde, A. M. (2019). Dapagliflozin in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction. New England Journal of Medicine, 381(21), 1995-2008. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31535829/
  3. Packer, M., Anker, S. D., Butler, J., Filippatos, G., Pocock, S. J., Carson, P., … & Zannad, F. (2020). Cardiovascular and renal outcomes with empagliflozin in heart failure. New England Journal of Medicine, 383(15), 1413-1424. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32865377/
  4. Anker, S. D., Butler, J., Filippatos, G., Ferreira, J. P., Bocchi, E., Böhm, M., … & Packer, M. (2021). Empagliflozin in heart failure with a preserved ejection fraction. New England Journal of Medicine, 385(16), 1451-1461. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34449189/
  5. Cunningham, J. W., Vaduganathan, M., Claggett, B. L., Kulac, I. J., Desai, A. S., Jhund, P. S., … & Solomon, S. D. (2022). Dapagliflozin in Patients Recently Hospitalized With Heart Failure and Mildly Reduced or Preserved Ejection Fraction. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36041912/
  6. Voors, A. A., Angermann, C. E., Teerlink, J. R., Collins, S. P., Kosiborod, M., Biegus, J., … & Ponikowski, P. (2022). The SGLT2 inhibitor empagliflozin in patients hospitalized for acute heart failure: a multinational randomized trial. Nature medicine, 28(3), 568-574. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35228754/
  7. Bhatt, D. L., Szarek, M., Steg, P. G., Cannon, C. P., Leiter, L. A., McGuire, D. K., … & Pitt, B. (2021). Sotagliflozin in patients with diabetes and recent worsening heart failure. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(2), 117-128. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33200892/
  8. Heidenreich, P. A., Bozkurt, B., Aguilar, D., Allen, L. A., Byun, J. J., Colvin, M. M., … & Yancy, C. W. (2022). 2022 AHA/ACC/HFSA guideline for the management of heart failure: Executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American heart association joint Committee on clinical practice guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 79(17), 1757-1780. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35379504/
  9. Muscoli, S., Barillà, F., Tajmir, R., Meloni, M., Della Morte, D., Bellia, A., … & Andreadi, A. (2022). The New Role of SGLT2 Inhibitors in the Management of Heart Failure: Current Evidence and Future Perspective. Pharmaceutics, 14(8), 1730. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36015359/
  10. Aktaa, S., Abdin, A., Arbelo, E., Burri, H., Vernooy, K., Blomström-Lundqvist, C., … & Gale, C. P. (2022). European Society of Cardiology Quality Indicators for the care and outcomes of cardiac pacing: developed by the Working Group for Cardiac Pacing Quality Indicators in collaboration with the European Heart Rhythm Association of the European Society of Cardiology. EP Europace, 24(1), 165-172. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34455442/
  11. Petersen, C. (1835). Analyse des phloridzins. Annalen der pharmacie, 15(2), 178-178. 

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

 

 

Should I consider treating my patient with heart failure with an SGLT2 inhibitor?

My patient complains of severe facial scarring from childhood acne that is not improving. How should I advise her?

Severe facial scarring after childhood acne is not uncommon, having been shown to affect 43% of acne patients.1 Fortunately, there are several evidence-based treatments available to improve their appearance.

One procedure that you could recommend to your patient is microneedling, also known as percutaneous collagen induction or collagen induction therapy.2 This therapy works by using extremely fine needles to create small puncture wounds in the epidermis and superficial dermis, leading to tissue proliferation and collagen remodeling with subsequent enhancement in scar appearance.3 In fact, one randomized clinical trial showed a statistically significant 41% mean improvement following the procedure4. Adverse effects are limited with this treatment, with participants experiencing no issues other than mild erythema and edema.4

Another highly effective solution is laser therapy, which includes resurfacing (carbon dioxide, CO2; erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet, Er:YAG) and fractional (nonablative, NAFL; and ablative, AFL) lasers. One study compared the efficacy of these different lasers. Improvement in scar appearance was measured with a scale graded from 0 to 10. The mean improvement scores of the CO2, Er:YAG, NAFL, and AFL groups were 6.0, 5.8, 2.2, and 5.2, respectively.5 The Er:YAG laser has even been shown to have significantly better results than microneedling (70% improvement vs 30% improvement).6 The biggest downside to laser therapy is that patients reported more erythema, swelling, and crusting when compared to microneedling; however, they experienced significantly less pain.6

Other potentially effective treatments for acne scars include dermal fillers and chemical peels, neither of which have been shown to be superior to microneedling or laser therapy individually. However, certain peels do seem to significantly improve the effects of microneedling when used together.7 The good news is that all four can be performed easily in the office setting, so a referral to a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon would be a good first step to addressing your patient’s problem.

Request for treatment of scars years after onset of acne should not be surprising in a general medicine practice. Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting over 50 million people.8 Unfortunately, in severe cases, inflammation can lead to scarring in cosmetically sensitive areas, leading to a lower quality of life and higher rates of anxiety and depression.9

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a concentrate of platelets and growth factors obtained from venipuncture, has been shown to enhance the effects of microneedling and laser therapy through increased protein synthesis, collagen remodeling, and accelerated wound healing? 10

Contributed by Aditya Nellore, MD,  St. Louis, Missouri

 

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References:

  1. Tan J, Kang S, Leyden J. Prevalence and Risk Factors of Acne Scarring Among Patients Consulting Dermatologists in the USA. J Drugs Dermatol. 2017 Feb 1;16(2):97-102. PMID: 28300850. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28300850/
  2. Orentreich DS, Orentreich N. Subcutaneous incisionless (subcision) surgery for the correction of depressed scars and wrinkles. Dermatol Surg. 1995 Jun;21(6):543-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.1995.tb00259.x. PMID: 7773602. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7773602/
  3. Fabbrocini G, Fardella N, Monfrecola A, Proietti I, Innocenzi D. Acne scarring treatment using skin needling. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2009 Dec;34(8):874-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2009.03291.x. Epub 2009 May 22. PMID: 19486041. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19486041/
  4. Alam M, Han S, Pongprutthipan M, Disphanurat W, Kakar R, Nodzenski M, Pace N, Kim N, Yoo S, Veledar E, Poon E, West DP. Efficacy of a needling device for the treatment of acne scars: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Dermatol. 2014 Aug;150(8):844-9. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.8687. PMID: 24919799. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24919799/
  5. You HJ, Kim DW, Yoon ES, Park SH. Comparison of four different lasers for acne scars: Resurfacing and fractional lasers. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2016 Apr;69(4):e87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2015.12.012. Epub 2016 Jan 7. PMID: 26880620. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26880620/
  6. Osman MA, Shokeir HA, Fawzy MM. Fractional Erbium-Doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet Laser Versus Microneedling in Treatment of Atrophic Acne Scars: A Randomized Split-Face Clinical Study. Dermatol Surg. 2017 Jan;43 Suppl 1:S47-S56. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000951. PMID: 28009690. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28009690/
  7. El-Domyati M, Abdel-Wahab H, Hossam A. Microneedling combined with platelet-rich plasma or trichloroacetic acid peeling for management of acne scarring: A split-face clinical and histologic comparison. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Feb;17(1):73-83. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12459. Epub 2017 Dec 10. PMID: 29226630. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29226630/
  8. Bickers DR, Lim HW, Margolis D, Weinstock MA, Goodman C, Faulkner E et al. The burden of skin diseases: 2004 a joint project of the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the Society for Investigative Dermatology. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 2006;55:490-500. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16908356/
  9. Yazici K, Baz K, Yazici AE, Köktürk A, Tot S, Demirseren D, Buturak V. Disease-specific quality of life is associated with anxiety and depression in patients with acne. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2004 Jul;18(4):435-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2004.00946.x. PMID: 15196157. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15196157/
  10. Hashim PW, Levy Z, Cohen JL, Goldenberg G. Microneedling therapy with and without platelet-rich plasma. Cutis. 2017 Apr;99(4):239-242. PMID: 28492598. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28492598/

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

 

 

My patient complains of severe facial scarring from childhood acne that is not improving. How should I advise her?

How is Monkeypox different than Covid-19?

Just like Covid-19, Monkeypox (MP) is caused by a virus (this time related to smallpox), but there are major differences between these 2 diseases. 1-11

First, in contrast to Covid-19 which can easily be transmitted by casual contact through air, MP is primarily transmitted by close skin-to-skin contact (or possibly through contaminated clothing/bed linens) and sexual contact,  with great majority of current cases occurring among men who have sex with men (MSM); airborne transmission does not appear to be an important source of spread. 2

Although there is an overlap, the incubation period of MP tends to be longer (3-17 days) than that of Covid-19 which can be as few as 2 days.  Common to both diseases are flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches and headache, but MP is characterized by a rash that may be located on or near the genitals or anus or other areas, including hands, feet, chest face or mouth. 4

The rash (Figure) can look like pimples or blisters initially and may be painful or itchy as well. MP rash can either precede or follow flu-like symptoms after 1-4 days, or be the sole manifestation of the disease. Lymph node swelling or eye involvement (advise infected patients not to touch their eyes) may occur.  Although respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion and cough may occur with both diseases, shortness of breath would be unusual in MP.  A person with MP is considered contagious from onset of illness until the rash scabs over completely, which usually takes 2-4 weeks. 4,5,7,8

In contrast to Covid-19, currently there are no specific proven effective therapy against MP. However, several therapeutic agents with known activity against smallpox may be considered for those particularly at high risk of complications (eg, immunosuppressed patients, those with severe disease, exfoliative skin conditions [eg, eczema, psoriasis, Darier disease] children <8 years of age, pregnant or breast feeding patients, those with complications {eg, bacterial skin infection, pneumonia, gastroenteritis) or concurrent comorbidities.  These include an antiviral drug, Tecovirimat (TPOXX, ST-246) which can be obtained under an expanded-access protocol through the CDC in the U.S. (https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/clinicians/obtaining-tecovirimat.html. opens in new tab) — and Vaccinia Immune Globulin Intravenous (VIGIV) also through the CDC. 3,10

There are some “good news” related to MP when compared to Covid-19. First, in contrast Covid-19, hospitalization or death from MP due to the current circulating West African strain of the virus are extremely uncommon to rare.   In fact, of more than 12,000 cases of MP in 68 countries during the first few weeks of the epidemic, only 3 deaths have been reported, none in the U.S. thus far. 2

Second, in contrast to Covid-19, a person with MP is not considered infectious before onset of symptoms. So from a public health standpoint, it may be easier to control the spread of MP in the population following identification of a case. 9

Third, vaccination of contacts with one of the 2 available vaccinia/smallpox vaccines following significant exposure to MP may prevent disease altogether or render the disease milder. Vaccines should be administered within 4 days of exposure and no longer than 14 days after.  The generally preferred vaccine against MP is a modified vaccinia virus Ankara vaccine (MVA; JYNNEOS in the U.S., Imvanex in the European Union, and Imamune in Canada) which is live but non-replicative and is associated with fewer adverse events and contraindications than the alternative, ACAM2000, a live smallpox vaccine. 3

Last, in contrast to lack of pre-existing immunity to Covid-19 in virtually everyone  when the pandemic hit over 2 years ago, a large proportion of the population who received smallpox vaccine as part childhood vaccination (ending in 1972 in the U.S.) may have at least partial immunity against MP, resulting in either no or milder disease.6,11  

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that despite its name, monkeys are not a natural host of Monkeypox, with the causative virus having been isolated from a wild monkey in Africa only once? Instead, the virus first got its name after it was identified in a colony of Asian monkeys in a laboratory in Denmark in 1958. Squirrels, rats and shrew species serve as its natural host.1

Figure: Monkeypox rash (Courtesy CDC). 

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References

  1. Cohen J. Monkeypox is a new global threat. African scientists know what the world is up against. Science. June 1 2022. Monkeypox is a new global threat. African scientists know what the world is up against | Science | AAAS
  2. Osterholm MT. Gellin B. Confronting 21st-century monkeypox. Science 2022;377:349. Confronting 21st-century monkeypox | Science
  3. Medical countermeasures available for the treatment of monkeypox. Treatment Information for Healthcare Professionals | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC. Accessed August 2, 2022.
  4. Key characteristics for identifying monkeypox. Clinical Recognition | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC. Accessed August 6, 2022
  5. Monkeypox signs and symptoms. Signs and Symptoms | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC. Accessed August 6, 2022.
  6. Karem KL, Reynold M, Hughes C, et al. Monkeypox-induced immunity and failure of childhood smallpox vaccine to provide complete protection. Clin Vaccine Immunol 2007;14:1318-27. Monkeypox-induced immunity and failure of childhood smallpox vaccination to provide complete protection – PubMed (nih.gov)
  7. Monkeypox: Key facts. Monkeypox (who.int). Accessed August 6, 2022.
  8. Clinical presentations of Covid-19. Clinical Presentation | Clinical Care Considerations | CDC. Accessed August 6, 2022.
  9. How monkeypox spreads. How it Spreads | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC. Accessed August 6, 2022.
  10. Sherwat A, Brooks JT, Birnkrant D, et al. Tecovirimat and the treatment of monkeypox—past, present, and future. N Engl J Med 2020. August 3, 2022. Tecovirimat and the Treatment of Monkeypox — Past, Present, and Future Considerations | NEJM
  11. Mandavilli A. Who is protected against monkeypox. NY Times. May 26, 2022. Who Is Protected Against Monkeypox? – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

How is Monkeypox different than Covid-19?