Category Archives: Guidelines

Guidelines relevant to the critically ill patient

Guidelines on prehospital drug-assisted LMA insertion

The UK’s Faculty of Prehospital Care has published a number of consensus guidelines in this month’s EMJ

Dr Minh Le Cong‘s PHARM blog has summaries of three of them:

The final one is the most contentious: Pharmacologically assisted laryngeal mask insertion: a consensus statement(1). Here is the summary:

  1. The PALM technique is an acceptable tool for managing the prehospital airway
  2. The PALM technique is indicated in a rare set of circumstances
  3. The PALM procedure is a rescue technique
  4. The PALM procedure should be checklist driven
  5. At least a second generation SAD should be used
  6. End-tidal CO2 monitoring is mandatory
  7. No preference is expressed for any particular drug
  8. No preference is expressed for any particular dosing regime
  9. Flumazenil is highly unlikely to have a role in managing the PALM patient
  10. The PALM procedure should only be carried out by practitioners of level 7 or above competences
  11. The availability of a trained assistant, familiar with the procedure would be advantageous
  12. The training required to achieve competency in performing the PALM procedure must include in-hospital insertion of SADs, simulation training and training in the transfer of critically ill patients
  13. Data should be collected and collated at a national level for all patients who receive the PALM procedure

They qualify the first point with the statement: The consensus group felt that, in the hands of a specific set of practitioners and in certain circumstances, patients would benefit from the technique. It was recognised that pre-hospital airway management can be very challenging, and deeming the technique unacceptable could deprive patients of a potentially life saving intervention. It was felt that having another tool available to clinicians which could potentially improve patient outcome was important. This was despite the lack of a robust evidence base. It was felt that the technique is indicated in, and should be limited to, a very specific set of circumstances as described below

The publication lists some ‘Organisations represented at the consensus meeting’, which include some commercial training and equipment companies.

It also states that ‘The Royal College of Anaesthetists, although represented at the initial meeting, was unable to support the outcomes agreed by the other represented organisations.

This is a very interesting development. I can see the pros and cons of this. Since practitioners are out there doing PALM anyway, it is in the interests of patients to produce a statement that encourages monitoring, checklists, training, and data collection. To meet all the requirements, one must undergo ‘training in the transfer of critically ill patients’, which would normally necessitate more advanced airway and anaesthesia skills anyway.

A tough one – what would you want if there was no RSI capability but you were hypoxic with trismus and basic airway maneouvres were failing? An all out ban on PALM, or PALM provided by someone trained in surgical airway if it fails (as per the consensus recommendations)?

This and some of the other statements can be downloaded in full at the Faculty of Pre-hospital Care site

1. Pharmacologically assisted laryngeal mask insertion: a consensus statement
Emerg Med J. 2013 Dec;30(12):1073-5

Therapeutic hypothermia does not improve arrest outcome

A paper published today represents to me what’s great about science.

I am impressed with those investigators who had the wherewithall to subject previous therapeutic hypothermia studies to skeptical scrutiny and then design and conduct a robust multicentre trial to answer the question.

One of the criticisms of the original two studies was that those patients who were not actively cooled did not have their temperature tightly controlled, and therefore some were allowed to become hypERthermic, which is bad for brains.

This latest study showed no difference in survival or neurological outcome after cardiac arrest between target temperatures of 33°C and 36°C.

So controlling the temperature after cardiac arrest is still important, but cooling down to the recommended range of 32-4°C is not.

Cool.

Read the full study at the NEJM site.

Targeted Temperature Management at 33°C versus 36°C after Cardiac Arrest

NEJM November 17, 2013 Full text


BACKGROUND Unconscious survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have a high risk of death or poor neurologic function. Therapeutic hypothermia is recommended by international guidelines, but the supporting evidence is limited, and the target temperature associated with the best outcome is unknown. Our objective was to compare two target temperatures, both intended to prevent fever.

METHODS In an international trial, we randomly assigned 950 unconscious adults after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of presumed cardiac cause to targeted temperature management at either 33°C or 36°C. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality through the end of the trial. Secondary outcomes included a composite of poor neurologic function or death at 180 days, as evaluated with the Cerebral Performance Category (CPC) scale and the modified Rankin scale.

RESULTS In total, 939 patients were included in the primary analysis. At the end of the trial, 50% of the patients in the 33°C group (235 of 473 patients) had died, as compared with 48% of the patients in the 36°C group (225 of 466 patients) (hazard ratio with a temperature of 33°C, 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.89 to 1.28; P=0.51). At the 180-day follow-up, 54% of the patients in the 33°C group had died or had poor neurologic function according to the CPC, as compared with 52% of patients in the 36°C group (risk ratio, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.88 to 1.16; P=0.78). In the analysis using the modified Rankin scale, the comparable rate was 52% in both groups (risk ratio, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.89 to 1.14; P=0.87). The results of analyses adjusted for known prognostic factors were similar.

CONCLUSIONS In unconscious survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of presumed cardiac cause, hypothermia at a targeted temperature of 33°C did not confer a benefit as compared with a targeted temperature of 36°C.

Guidelines for the Management of Heart Failure

Some new guidelines to be aware of are the AHA Guidelines for the Management of Heart Failure. Full text is available free and while comprehensively covering chronic heart failure there is an interesting section on acute decompensated heart failure.

Evidence-based medicine enthusiasts might be interested in recommendations to consider dopamine, nesiritide, and ultrafiltration. These therapies also get a mention in the 2012 European Guidelines. I recommend you review the articles cited in the guidelines to make your own mind up.

Here are a couple of snippets you may find useful:


Snippet from American Guidelines: intravenous loop diuretic doses

“HF patients receiving loop diuretic therapy should receive an initial parenteral dose greater than or equal to their chronic oral daily dose; then dose should be serially adjusted.”


Snippet from European Guidelines: management algorithm for acute heart failure

Click to enlarge

AHF-ESC

2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the Management of Heart Failure: Executive Summary
Circulation. 2013 Oct 15;128(16):1810-52 Free Full Text

ESC Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure 2012
Eur Heart J. 2012 Jul;33(14):1787-847 Free Full Text

Lateral chest thrusts for choking

An interesting animal study examined the techniques recommended in basic choking management algorithms for foreign body airway obstruction (chest and abdominal thrusts). In terms of the pressures generated, lateral chest thrusts were the most effective, although they are not recommended in current guidelines.

The technique described (on intubated pigs) was:


The animals were placed on the floor and on their side. The lower (dependent) side of the chest was braced by the ground and thrust was applied to the upper part of the upper side by two hands side by side with the higher one just below the axilla.

Interestingly – and I didn’t know this (although perhaps should have!) – the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) recommended lateral chest thrusts instead of abdominal thrusts for over 20 years.

While we should always exercise extreme caution in extrapolating animal studies to humans, this makes me want to consider lateral thrusts in the first aid (ie. no equipment) situation if other measures are failing.

Lateral versus anterior thoracic thrusts in the generation of airway pressure in anaesthetised pigs
Resuscitation. 2013 Apr;84(4):515-9


Objective Anterior chest thrusts (with the subject sitting or standing and thrusts applied to the lower sternum) are recommended by the Australian Resuscitation Council as part of the sequence for clearing upper airway obstruction by a foreign body. Lateral chest thrusts (with the victim lying on their side) are no longer recommended due to a lack of evidence. We compared anterior, lateral chest and abdominal thrusts in the generation of airway pressures using a suitable animal model.

Methods This was a repeated-measures, cross-over, clinical trial of eight anaesthetised, intubated, adult pigs. For each animal, ten trials of each technique were undertaken with the upper airway obstructed. A chest/abdominal pressure transducer, a pneumotachograph and an intra-oesophageal balloon catheter recorded chest/abdominal thrust, expiratory air flows, airway and intrapleural pressures, respectively.

Results The mean (SD) thrust pressures generated for the anterior, lateral and abdominal techniques were 120.9 (11.0), 135.2 (20.0), and 142.4 (27.3) cmH2O, respectively (p < 0.0001). The mean (SD) peak expiratory airway pressures were 6.5 (3.0), 18.0 (5.5) and 13.8 (6.7) cmH2O, respectively (p < 0.0001). The mean (SD) peak expiratory intrapleural pressures were 5.4 (2.7), 13.5 (6.2) and 10.3 (8.5) cmH2O, respectively (p < 0.0001). At autopsy, no rib, intra-abdominal or intra-thoracic injury was observed.


Conclusion Lateral chest and abdominal thrust techniques generated significantly greater airway and pleural pressures than the anterior thrust technique. We recommend further research to provide additional evidence that may inform management guidelines for clearing foreign body upper airway obstruction.

Updated Difficult Airway Guidelines

diffairwayThe American Society of Anesthesiologists has published an update to its Practice Guidelines for Management of the Difficult Airway. You can get the full PDF for free. I’m linking to it for interest, but do not expect to find anything groundbreaking for the management of critical patients.

Practice Guidelines for Management of the Difficult Airway: An Updated Report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Management of the Difficult Airway
Anesthesiology 2013;118:251-70

New STEMI guidelines

Primary percutaneous coronary intervention or fibrinolysis for STEMI? What if you don’t have PCI at your hospital?

The new 2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the Management of ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction is out and you can get the summary here.

Here’s what they say about initial reperfusion therapy:

Onset of Myocardial Infarction: Recommendations
Regional Systems of STEMI Care, Reperfusion Therapy, and Time-to-Treatment Goals

Class I

1. All communities should create and maintain a regional system of STEMI care that includes assessment and continuous quality improvement of emergency medical services and hospital-based activities. Performance can be facilitated by participating in programs such as Mission: Lifeline and the Door-to-Balloon Alliance.(Level of Evidence: B)

2. Performance of a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) by emergency medical services personnel at the site of first medical contact (FMC) is recommended in patients with symptoms consistent with STEMI.(Level of Evidence: B)

3. Reperfusion therapy should be administered to all eligible patients with STEMI with symptom onset within the prior 12 hours. (Level of Evidence: A)

4. Primary PCI is the recommended method of reper- fusion when it can be performed in a timely fashion by experienced operators. (Level of Evidence: A)

5. Emergency medical services transport directly to a PCI-capable hospital for primary PCI is the recommended triage strategy for patients with STEMI, with an ideal FMC-to-device time system goal of 90 minutes or less.(Level of Evidence: B)

6. Immediate transfer to a PCI-capable hospital for primary PCI is the recommended triage strategy for patients with STEMI who initially arrive at or are transported to a non–PCI-capable hospital, with an FMC-to-device time system goal of 120 minutes or less.(Level of Evidence: B)

7. In the absence of contraindications, fibrinolytic therapy should be administered to patients with STEMI at non–PCI-capable hospitals when the anticipated FMC-to-device time at a PCI-capable hospital exceeds 120 minutes because of unavoidable delays.(Level of Evidence: B)

8. When fibrinolytic therapy is indicated or chosen as the primary reperfusion strategy, it should be administered within 30 minutes of hospital arrival.(Level of Evidence: B)

Class IIa

1. Reperfusion therapy is reasonable for patients with STEMI and symptom onset within the prior 12 to 24 hours who have clinical and/or ECG evidence of ongoing ischemia. Primary PCI is the preferred strategy in this population. (Level of Evidence: B)

2013 ACCF/AHA Guideline for the Management of ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction: Executive Summary: A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines.
Circulation. 2012 Dec 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Perimortem Caesarean Delivery: Late is Better than Not


“To date, approximately one-third of the women who die during pregnancy remain undelivered at the time of death”

Guidelines recommend cardiac arrest in pregnant women beyond 20 weeks gestation should be treated with perimortem caesarean delivery (PMCD) commenced within 4 minutes of arrest and completed within 5. These time intervals come from two papers, neither of which is current or used robust review methodology.

To address this, an up-to-date fairly comprehensive review was undertaken of published cases of maternal cardiac arrests occurring prior to delivery. The primary outcome measures were maternal and neonatal survival to hospital discharge and the relationship between PMCD and this outcome.

The Arrests

94 cases were included in the final analysis.Most pregnancies were singleton (90.4%, n = 85) with an average gestational age at the time of the arrest of 33 ± 7 weeks (median 35, range 10–42).

The most common causes of arrest were trauma, maternal cardiac problems, severe pre-eclampsia and amniotic fluid embolism, together comprising about 70% of arrests; two thirds occurred in hospital.

The Outcomes

Overall, return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was achieved more often than not (60.6%) and overall survival to hospital discharge was 54.3%

Only 57 cases (75%) reported the time from arrest to delivery; the average time was 16.6 ± 12.5 min (median 10, range 1–60), with only 4 cases making it under the advocated 4-min time limit.

Timing of PMCD and Maternal Survival

In cases undergoing PMCD the average time elapsing from arrest to PMCD was significantly different between surviving (27/57) and non-surviving (30/57) mothers [10.0 ± 7.2 min (median 9, range 1–37) and 22.6 ± 13.3 min (median 20, range 4–60) respectively (p < 0.001, 95%CI 6.9–18.2)].

Timing of PMCD and Neonatal Survival

Mean times to PMCD were 14±11min (median=10, range=1–47) and 22 ± 13 min (median = 20, range = 4–60) in neonatal survivors and non-survivors respectively (p=0.016)

In cases with PMCD which reported outcome, the overall neonatal survival rate was 63.6% (42/66).


“The 4-min time frame advocated for PMCD usually remains unmet yet neonatal survival is still likely if delivery occurs within 10 or even 15 min of arrest”

Both maternal & neonatal mortality were higher with prehospital arrest location.

Summary

The study may be limited by recall bias, under-reporting and publication bias, but provides a more comprehensive evidence base on which to base resuscitation recommendations. The authors provide a useful warning against becoming fixated with the recommended four minute window, which may lead teams to fail to attempt a potentially life-saving intervention:


“Fixation on specific time frames for PMCD may not be ideal. It may be more important to focus on event recognition and good overall performance…. It may be wise to advocate a short time frame for performance of PMCD in order to achieve better outcomes; however, blanket endorsement of an unrealistic time frame may well create a defeatist attitude when that time frame cannot be met.”

Maternal cardiac arrest and perimortem caesarean delivery: Evidence or expert-based?
Resuscitation. 2012 Oct;83(10):1191-200


AIM: To examine the outcomes of maternal cardiac arrest and the evidence for the 4-min time frame from arrest to perimortem caesarean delivery (PMCD) recommended in current resuscitation and obstetric guidelines.

DATA SOURCES AND METHODS: Review and data extraction from all reported maternal cardiac arrests occurring prior to delivery (1980-2010). Cases were included if they provided details regarding both the event and outcomes. Outcomes of arrest were assessed using survival, Cerebral Performance Category (CPC) and maternal/neonatal harm/benefit from PMCD. Outcome measures were maternal and neonatal survival.

RESULTS: Of 1594 manuscripts screened, 156 underwent full review. Data extracted from 80 relevant papers yielded 94 included cases. Maternal outcome: 54.3% (51/94) of mothers survived to hospital discharge, 78.4% (40/51) with a CPC of 1/2. PMCD was determined to have been beneficial to the mother in 31.7% of cases and was not harmful in any case. In-hospital arrest and PMCD within 10 min of arrest were associated with better maternal outcomes (ORs 5.17 and 7.42 respectively, p<0.05 both). Neonatal outcome: mean times from arrest to delivery were 14±11 min and 22±13 min in survivors and non-survivors respectively (receiver operating area under the curve 0.729). Neonatal survival was only associated with in-hospital maternal arrest (OR 13.0, p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment recommendations should include a low admission threshold to a highly monitored area for pregnant women with cardiorespiratory decompensation, good overall performance of resuscitation and delivery within 10 min of arrest. Cognitive dissonance may delay both situation recognition and the response to maternal collapse.

A whole bunch of trauma guidelines

The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma has published a number of helpful evidence-based guidelines for trauma management, and many of them are included in this month’s Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery

Here are brief snippets from some of them. All the guidelines can be viewed or downloaded in full for free here.

 

Nonoperative management of blunt hepatic injury

  • Nonoperative management of blunt hepatic injuries currently is the treatment modality of choice in hemodynamically stable patients, irrespective of the grade of injury or patient age.
  • Patients presenting with hemodynamic instability and peritonitis still warrant emergent operative intervention.
  • Intravenous contrast enhanced computed tomographic scan is the diagnostic modality of choice for evaluating blunt hepatic injuries.

 

Selective nonoperative management of blunt splenic injury

  • Nonoperative management of blunt splenic injuries is now the treatment modality of choice in hemodynamically stable patients, irrespective of the grade of injury, patient age, or the presence of associated injuries.
  • Patients presenting with hemodynamic instability and peritonitis still warrant emergent operative intervention.
  • Intravenous contrast enhanced computed tomographic scan is the diagnostic modality of choice for evaluating blunt splenic injuries.

 

Screening for blunt cardiac injury

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) alone is not sufficient to rule out BCI.
  • BCI can be ruled out only if both ECG result and troponin I level are normal, a significant change from the previous guideline.
  • Patients with new ECG changes and/or elevated troponin I should be admitted for monitoring.
  • Echocardiogram is not beneficial as a screening tool for BCI and should be reserved for patients with hypotension and/or arrhythmias.
  • The presence of a sternal fracture alone does not predict BCI.
  • Cardiac computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging can be used to differentiate acute myocardial infarction from BCI in trauma patients.

 

Evaluation and management of penetrating lower extremity arterial trauma

  • Expedited triage of patients is possible with physical examination and/or the measurement of ankle-brachial indices.
  • Computed tomographic angiography has become the diagnostic study of choice when imaging is required.
  • Tourniquets and intravascular shunts have emerged as adjuncts in the treatment of penetrating lower extremity arterial trauma.

 

Prophylactic antibiotic use in penetrating abdominal trauma

  • There is evidence to support a Level I recommendation that prophylactic antibiotics should only be administered for 24 hours in the presence of a hollow viscus injury.
  • There are no data to support continuing prophylactic antibiotics longer than 24 hours in damage control laparotomy.

 

Screening for thoracolumbar spinal injuries in blunt trauma

  • Multidetector computed tomographic scans have become the screening modality of choice and the criterion standard in screening for TLS injuries.
  • Patients without altered mentation or significant mechanism may be excluded by clinical examination without imaging.
  • Patients with gross neurologic deficits or concerning clinical examination findings with negative imaging should receive a magnetic resonance imaging expediently, and the spine service should be consulted

 

Emergency tracheal intubation immediately following traumatic injury

  • The decision to intubate a patient following traumatic injury is based on multiple factors, including the need for oxygenation and ventilation, the extent and mechanism of injury, predicted operative need, or progression of disease.
  • Rapid sequence intubation with direct laryngoscopy continues to be the recommended method for ETI, although the use of airway adjuncts such as blind insertion supraglottic devices and video laryngoscopy may be useful in facilitating successful ETI and may be preferred in certain patient populations.
  • There is no pharmacologic induction agent of choice for ETI; however, succinylcholine is the neuromuscular blockade agent recommended for rapid sequence intubation.

 

Presumptive antibiotic use in tube thoracostomy for traumatic hemopneumothorax

  • Routine presumptive antibiotic use to reduce the incidence of empyema and pneumonia in TT for traumatic hemopneumothorax is controversial; however, there is insufficient published evidence to support any recommendation either for or against this practice.

 

Evaluation and management of geriatric trauma

  • Effective evidence-based care of aging patients necessitates aggressive triage, correction of coagulopathy, and limitation of care when clinical evidence points toward an overwhelming likelihood of poor long-term prognosis

 

Management of pulmonary contusion and flail chest

  • Patients with PC-FC should not be excessively fluid restricted but should be resuscitated to maintain signs of adequate tissue perfusion.
  • Obligatory mechanical ventilation in the absence of respiratory failure should be avoided.
  • The use of optimal analgesia and aggressive chest physiotherapy should be applied to minimize the likelihood of respiratory failure.
  • Epidural catheter is the preferred mode of analgesia delivery in severe flail chest injury.
  • Paravertebral analgesia may be equivalent to epidural analgesia and may be appropriate in certain situations when epidural is contraindicated.
  • A trial of mask continuous positive airway pressure should be considered in alert patients with marginal respiratory status.
  • Patients requiring mechanical ventilation should be supported in a manner based on institutional and physician preference and separated from the ventilator at the earliest possible time.
  • Positive end-expiratory pressure or continuous positive airway pressure should be provided.
  • High-frequency oscillatory ventilation should be considered for patients failing conventional ventilatory modes. Independent lung ventilation may also be considered in severe unilateral pulmonary contusion when shunt cannot be otherwise corrected.
  • Surgical fixation of flail chest may be considered in cases of severe flail chest failing to wean from the ventilator or when thoracotomy is required for other reasons.
  • Self-activating multidisciplinary protocols for the treatment of chest wall injuries may improve outcome and should be considered where feasible.
  • Steroids should not be used in the therapy of pulmonary contusion.
  • Diuretics may be used in the setting of hydrostatic fluid overload in hemodynamically stable patients or in the setting of known concurrent congestive heart failure.

 

Evaluation and management of small-bowel obstruction

  • Level I evidence now exists to recommend the use of computed tomographic scan, especially multidetector computed tomography with multiplanar reconstructions, in the evaluation of patients with SBO because it can provide incremental clinically relevant information over plains films that may lead to changes in management.
  • Patients with evidence of generalized peritonitis, other evidence of clinical deterioration, such as fever, leukocytosis, tachycardia, metabolic acidosis, and continuous pain, or patients with evidence of ischemia on imaging should undergo timely exploration.
  • The remainder of patients can safely undergo initial nonoperative management for both partial and complete SBO.
  • Water-soluble contrast studies should be considered in patients who do not clinically resolve after 48 to 72 hours for both diagnostic and potential therapeutic purposes.
  • Laparoscopic treatment of SBO has been demonstrated to be a viable alternative to laparotomy in selected cases.

 

2012 Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) Practice Management Guidelines Supplement
J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 Nov;73(5 Suppl 4)

Upper GI bleeding guideline update

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has issued updated guidance on the management of acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding.

The initial resuscitation section recommends haemostatic blood product resuscitation for unstable patients in line with massive transfusion practice in trauma.

A risk assessment is recommended using the Blatchford score pre-endoscopy at first assessment, and the full Rockall score after endoscopy.

Consider early discharge for patients with a pre-endoscopy Blatchford score of 0.

In non-varicesal haemorrhage, acid-suppression drugs (proton pump inhibitors or H2-receptor antagonists) before endoscopy are not recommended.

Terlipressin should be given to patients with suspected variceal bleeding at presentation and continued until definitive haemostasis has been achieved, or after 5 days, unless there is another indication for its use.

Prophylactic antibiotic therapy should be offered at presentation to patients with suspected or confirmed variceal bleeding.

Click image to go to interactive pathway on NICE website

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence: CG141 Acute upper GI bleeding: NICE guideline
http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG141/NICEGuidance/pdf/English