The hunt for Earth-like planets

Using the prolific planet hunting Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have discovered 1,235 candidate planets orbiting other suns since the Kepler mission’s search for Earth-like worlds began in 2009.

To find them, Kepler monitors a rich star field to identify planetary transits by the slight dimming of starlight caused by a planet crossing the face of its parent star. In this remarkable illustration, all of Kepler’s planet candidates are shown in transit with their parent stars ordered by size from top left to bottom right. Read more


First Resus.ME! Podcast

The desire to produce my own Podcast has been burning away for a while now. I can’t offer clinical pearls in the beautiful ways that EMCrit or EMRAP do, but I do want to share the news about the great resuscitation practitioners that have inspired me and continue to do so.

You have to start somewhere – I’m hoping to improve at this and would welcome any constructive feedback. Click the link below to download. If you play it in iTunes the chapter headings should be available as should links to the websites referred to in the podcast.


Resus.ME! May 2011


STEMI criteria vary with age and sex

On reading through the 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Science – Part 10: Acute Coronary Syndromes, I found a reminder that the ECG criteria for diagnosing ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) vary according to age and sex. From the original article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology:

The threshold values of ST-segment elevation of 0.2 mV (2 mm) in some leads and 0.1 mV (1 mm) in others results from recognition that some elevation of the junction of the QRS complex and the ST segment (the J point) in most chest leads is normal. Recent studies have revealed that the threshold values are dependent on gender, age, and ECG lead ([8], [9], [10], [11] and [12]). In healthy individuals, the amplitude of the ST junction is generally highest in leads V2 and V3 and is greater in men than in women.


  1. For men 40 years of age and older, the threshold value for abnormal J-point elevation should be 0.2 mV (2 mm) in leads V2 and V3 and 0.1 mV (1 mm) in all other leads.
  2. For men less than 40 years of age, the threshold values for abnormal J-point elevation in leads V2 and V3 should be 0.25 mV (2.5 mm).
  3. For women, the threshold value for abnormal J-point elevation should be 0.15 mV (1.5 mm) in leads V2 and V3 and greater than 0.1 mV (1 mm) in all other leads.
  4. For men and women, the threshold for abnormal J-point elevation in V3R and V4R should be 0.05 mV (0.5 mm), except for males less than 30 years of age, for whom 0.1 mV (1 mm) is more appropriate.
  5. For men and women, the threshold value for abnormal J- point elevation in V7 through V9 should be 0.05 mV (0.5 mm).
  6. For men and women of all ages, the threshold value for abnormal J-point depression should be −0.05 mV (−0.5 mm) in leads V2 and V3 and −0.1 mV (−1 mm) in all other leads.

What does establishment of abnormal J-point mean for STEMI diagnosis? The AHA/ECC guidelines state the following:

ST-segment elevation… is characterized by ST-segment elevation in 2 or more contiguous leads and is classified as ST-segment elevation MI (STEMI). Threshold values for ST-segment elevation consistent with STEMI are:
  • J-point elevation 0.2 mV (2 mm) in leads V2 and V3 and 0.1 mV (1 mm) in all other leads (men ≥40 years old);
  • J-point elevation 0.25 mV (2.5 mm) in leads V2 and V3 and 0.1 mV (1 mm) in all other leads (men <40 years old);
  • J-point elevation 0.15 mV (1.5 mm) in leads V2 and V3 and 0.1 mV (1 mm) in all other leads (women).

So, in summary:

Older men – 2mm in V2/V3 and 1mm everywhere else
Younger men – 2.5 mm in V2/V3 and 1mm everywhere else
Women – 1.5 mm in V2/V3 and 1mm everywhere else

Shouldn’t be too difficult to remember.

Part 10: acute coronary syndromes: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.
Circulation. 2010 Nov 2;122(18 Suppl 3):S787-817

AHA/ACCF/HRS recommendations for the standardization and interpretation of the electrocardiogram: part VI: acute ischemia/infarction: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Electrocardiography and Arrhythmias Committee, Council on Clinical Cardiology; the American College of Cardiology Foundation; and the Heart Rhythm Society. Endorsed by the International Society for Computerized Electrocardiology.
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2009 Mar 17;53(11):1003-11

‘Sensitive’ troponin assays do not rule out at ED presentation

An assessment of new ‘sensitive’ troponin assays at presentation of chest pain patients in a real-world ED setting showed that a single troponin I assay at ED presentation has insufficient sensitivity for clinical use to rule out MI. Author Anne-Maree Kelly discusses the current requirement for a minimum interval after an episode of chest pain to ensure adequate sensitivity: Currently in Australia the recommended minimum interval is 8 h after symptom onset. New evidence suggests that a shorter interval might be appropriate with the sensitive assays. Keller et al. reported 100% sensitivity at 3 h after ED presentation. Macrae et al. suggested that an assay 6 h from pain onset or serial assays 3 h apart with one at least 6 h from pain onset has high diagnostic accuracy. Although further research in an ED chest pain cohort is needed, the weight of evidence suggests a reduction in the minimum interval from pain onset to 6 h might be appropriate.

Aim: Troponin assays have high diagnostic value for myocardial infarction (MI), but sensitivity has been weak early after chest pain onset. New, so-called ‘sensitive’ troponin assays have recently been introduced. Two studies report high sensitivity for assays taken at ED presentation, but studied selected populations. Our aim was to evaluate the diagnostic performance for MI of a sensitive troponin assay measured at ED presentation in an unselected chest pain population without ECG evidence of ischaemia.
Methods: This is a sub-study of a prospective cohort study of adult patients with potentially cardiac chest pain who underwent evaluation for acute coronary syndrome. Patients with clear ECG evidence of acute ischaemia or an alternative diagnosis were excluded. Data collected included demographic, clinical, ECG, biomarker and outcome data. A ‘positive’ troponin was defined as >99th percentile of the assay used. MI diagnosis was as judged by the treating cardiologist. The outcomes of interest were sensitivity, specificity and likelihood ratios (LR) for positive troponin assay taken at ED presentation. Data were analysed by clinical performance analysis.
Results: Totally 952 were studied. Median age was 61 years; 56.4% were male and median TIMI score was 2. There were 129 MI (13.6, 95% CI 11.5-15.9). Sensitivity of TnI at ED presentation was 76.7% (95% CI 68.5-83.7%), specificity 93.6% (95% CI 91.7-95.1%), with LR positive 11.92 and LR negative 0.25.
Conclusion: Sensitive TnI assay at ED presentation has insufficient diagnostic accuracy for detection of MI. Serial biomarker assays in patients with negative initial TnI are required.

Performance of a sensitive troponin assay in the early diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction in the emergency department.
Emerg Med Australas. 2011 Apr;23(2):181-5

Intravenous lipid emulsion as antidote

Emergency physician intensivist Grant Cave and colleagues review the literature on intravenous lipid emulsion (ILE) therapy for human poisoning in this month’s Emergency Medicine Australasia

Intravenous lipid emulsion (ILE) has been demonstrated to be effective in amelioration of cardiovascular and central nervous system sequelae of local-anaesthetic and non-local-anaesthetic drug toxicity in animal models. Sequestration of lipophilic toxins to an expanded plasma lipid phase is credited as the predominant beneficial mechanism of action of ILE. Systematic review of published human experience is however lacking. We determined to report a comprehensive literature search of all human reports of ILE application in drug poisoning. Forty-two cases of ILE use (19 local-anaesthetic, 23 non-local-anaesthetic) were identified, with anecdotal reports of successful resuscitation from cardiovascular collapse and central nervous system depression associated with ILE administration in lipophilic toxin overdose. Although significant heterogeneity was observed in both agents of intoxication, and reported outcomes; case report data suggest a possible benefit of ILE in potentially life-threatening cardio-toxicity from bupivacaine, mepivacaine, ropivacaine, haloperidol, tricyclic antidepressants, lipophilic beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. Further controlled study and systematic evaluation of human cases is required to define the clinical role of ILE in acute poisonings.

Review article: Intravenous lipid emulsion as antidote: A summary of published human experience.
Emerg Med Australas. 2011 Apr;23(2):123-41

An editorial by Guy Weinberg, the researcher who first demonstrated the effect of ILE on bupivacaine toxicity, has some interesting observations and recommendations:

  • Each of the first six case reports of lipid resuscitation from local anaesthetic systemic toxicity (LAST) were noted to have one or more of either underlying ischaemia, conduction defect or low cardiac output. For patients in these susceptible groups, reduce the dose of local anaesthetics used in nerve blocks
  • There is laboratory evidence that epinephrine (adrenaline) can impair lipid resuscitation. Weinberg believes that epinephrine should be used only in small doses, if at all, in treating LAST
  • In bupivacaine toxicity, use it early rather than later, as outcomes are likely to be better when intervention occurs before tissue perfusion has been compromised and too much pressor therapy has been used

Weinberg informs us that more examples of lipid resuscitation can be found at the educational website: and the registry site:

Intravenous lipid emulsion: Why wait to save a life?
Emerg Med Australas. 2011 Apr;23(2):113-5

In his editorial Weinberg refers to the review article by Jamaty et al, whose suggested regimen included 20% ILE 1.5mL/kg bolus then 0.25–0.5 mL/kg/min for 30–60 min.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of intravenous fat emulsion (IFE) in the management of poisoned patients.
METHODS: We performed a systematic review of the literature with no time or language restriction. The electronic databases were searched from their inception until June 1, 2009 (Medline, EMBASE, ISI web of science, Biological abstract, LILACS, ChemIndex, Toxnet, and Proquest). We also examined the references of identified articles and the gray literature. The target interventions eligible for inclusion were administration of any IFE before, during, or after poisoning in human or animals. All types of studies were reviewed. Eligibility for inclusion and study quality scores, based on criteria by Jadad and the STROBE statement, were evaluated by independent investigators. The primary outcome was mortality. Secondary outcomes included neurologic, hemodynamic, and electrocardiographic variables, as well as adverse effects.
RESULTS: Of the 938 publications identified by the search strategies, 74 met the inclusion criteria. We identified 23 animal trials, 50 human, and 1 animal case reports. Overall, the quality of evidence was weak and significant heterogeneity prevented data pooling. Available data suggest some benefits of IFE in bupivacaine, verapamil, chlorpromazine, and some tricyclic antidepressants and beta-blockers toxicity. No trial assessed the safety of IFE in the treatment of acute poisoning.
CONCLUSION: The evidence for the efficacy of IFE in reducing mortality and improving hemodynamic, electrocardiographic, and neurological parameters in the poisoned patients is solely based on animal studies and human case reports. The safety of IFE has not been established.

Lipid emulsions in the treatment of acute poisoning: a systematic review of human and animal studies.
Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2010 Jan;48(1):1-27

The Guidelines from the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, also endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, outline the dose and indications for ILE in LAST. The full guideline can be accessed by clicking the image below: