Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

On Monday in dermatology morning report we discussed SJS/TEN.

Here is a great reference that our presenter, Dr. A.D., has recommended.

Happy Holidays everyone and see you in January!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Drug-induced liver injury (DILI)

This morning we discussed drug-induced liver injury (DILI). Many drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, can cause hepatotoxicity, so a careful medication history should always be obtained when a patient presents with liver enzyme abnormalities.

DILI can range from asymptomatic mild enzyme elevations to fulminate liver failure. Jaundice in addition to elevated enzymes is associated with a worse prognosis than that seen in the setting of isolated ezyme abnormalities (an observation known as "Hy's law").

The most important treatment for DILI is cessation of the offending drug.

Here is a review on DILI.

* H& E stain, liver biopsy, atorvastatin-induced acute hepatitis, Inflammatory cell infilteration of the liver parenchyma consistant with inflammation.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis

This morning we talked about hypersensitivity pneumonitis- also referred to as extrinsic allergic alveolitis.

This condition is an immunologic reaction of lung parenchyma to an inhaled agent, particularly an organic antigen. HP has been identified in various groups including farmers, bird handlers, carpenters, and those exposed to various industrial dusts. Mold exposure in poor housing can cause HP.

HP can present acutely with abrupt onset of fever, cough, dyspnea, and diffuse fine crackles. CXR may be normal or show transient patchy opacities. Subacute HP presents with gradual development of productive cough, dyspnea, fatigue, anorexia, and weight loss. Respiratory symptoms are more severe than with acute HP, and radiographic findings more extensive.

Removal from exposure to the inciting antigen leads to improvement in symptoms.

* Many adults and children suffer from chronic cough and respiratory symptoms secondary to mold exposure in poor housing in the Northern Ontario Cree community of Attawapiskat.

Here is the CBC photo gallery of the Attawapiskat Housing Crisit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"once a chief, always a chief...."

This morning, we reviewed a case of HTLV-1 associated T-Cell lymphoma. The human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV-I) is a retrovirus.

As we discussed, HTLV-1 is also associated with myelopathy, AKA tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP) which causes progressive weakness and spasticity of one or both legs with hyperreflexia.

HTLV-I is diagnosed by serum serology.

Treatment is not indicated for asymptomatic HTLV-1 infection.

*The title of this post has nothing to do with HTLV-1. I just liked Dr. HPK's quote from this morning!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Alcoholic hepatitis

This morning we reviewed a case of Alcoholic hepatitis at morning report.

Updated Post written by Dr. Wong

Alcoholic hepatitis takes place DURING significant alcohol use. They rarely seek medical attention because the hepatitis is mild and resolves on stopping alcohol for a few days. When they do present to ER, it is usually because symptoms persist despite abstinence. Patients rarely recognize jaundice, but in retrospect will have noticed dark urine.

Alcoholic liver disease can be recognized by the findings of AST > ALT, high GGT and high MCV.

Alcoholic hepatitis presents with AST 80-300 > ALT, low grade fever, a rise in WBC/left shift from baseline (baseline may be low), RUQ tenderness. Mild cases (normal INR) have an excellent survival prognosis. Severe hepatitis (INR > 1.9, Bilirubin > 100 or MELD > 21) has a high mortality risk and steroid therapy should be considered.

Therapy is Prednisone 40 mg OD x 4 weeks, no taper. Therapy is contra-indicated in the setting of infection, GI bleeding or renal failure.

Reassess after 1 week, stop if no improvement in bilirubin.

Nutrition with adequate calories is the other mainstay of therapy.

* Coloured light micrograph of a section through the liver of a patient with alcoholic hepatitis, inflammation of the liver due to heavy alcohol consumption. The normally regular cellular structure of the liver has been disrupted here, and large vacuoles of fat (yellow) are seen. The circular structures at centre are bile ducts.

Monday, December 12, 2011


This morning we reviewed a case of severe hypomagnesemia .

Patients often present with generalized weakness and non-specific complaints, but VENTRICULAR ARRYTHMIA and neurologic finings such as delirium and coma can also occur.

- GI losses: diarrhea
- Renal losses: renal failure or renal magnesium wasting due to drugs such as diuretics, aminoglycosides, or cisplatin, or rare genetic causes such as Gitleman's disease
- Alcohol: causes renal tubular dysfunction and urinary loss of Mg.
- Decrease PO intake

**Think of Magnesium depletion in refractory hypokalemia or unexplained hypocalcemia.

Route depends on severity and renal function

If hypomagnesemic-hypokalemic ventricular arrhythmias: give 50 meq of IV magnesium slowly over 8 to 24 hours and repeated as necessary to maintain the plasma magnesium concentration above 0.4 mmol/L or 0.8 meq/L.

Oral replacement is adequate for asymptomatic patient.

Treat the underlying disease.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hypertensive Emergency

We discuss the approach to and management of hypertensive emergency.

Here is a previous post on that topic.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Neurosyphilis (in non-HIV patient)

This morning we discussed a case of rapidly progressive dementia, likely secondary to neurosyphilis.

Neurosyphilis can occur early or late. It may occur with primary, secondary, or tertiary syphilis. Early neurophysilis can present as stroke, meningitis, meningoencephalitis, cranial nerve deficits, hearing loss (otosyphilis), or visual loss (oculosyphilis). Late neurosyphilis occur decades later and can presents as general paresis, dementia with psychosis (rapidly progressive), or tabes dorsalis (posterior column involvement, bowel, bladder dysfunction).

Syphilis Screen:
CMIA-Chemiluminescent Microparticle Immunoassay (serum)- T.pallidum (IgG/IgM)
VDRL-Venereal Disease Research Laboratory-no longer done at UHN labs.
RPR - Rapid Plasma Reagin Test. Detects total IgG/IgM antibody to syphilis (T. pallidum). Automatically done by lab if CMIA is reactive.

CMIA and PRP are called “syphilis screen” in EPR

Confirmatory Tests:
TP.PA- Treponema pallidum particle agglutination.
FTA.ABS- fluorescent treponemal antibody. Positive confirmatory test(s) are often reactive for life

CSF examination (not done at UHN lab, sent to PHL):
• CSF VDRL is specific but not sensitive
• CSF FTA-ABS is sensitive but not specific

Here is a review of syphilis.

Click here for the Ontario Public Health Lab algorithm for interpreting the MANY permutations and combinations of lab results

* A U.S. Army Educational Commission Poster about Neurosypilis, 1918.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Epidural Abcess

This morning we discussed a case of fever with back pain and our differential included epidural abscess.

If you're thinking about an epidural abscess, you need to image the spine. MRI is the best modality as it is sensitive to pick early signs of inflammation. CT with IV contrast is an acceptable alternative if MRI is not available. Plain X-ray may show changes of advanced osteomyelitis or discitis but is not used to diagnose an epidural abscess.

Here is a previous post and a reference on Epidural Abscesses.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Once in a while my heart flutters really fast...

This morning we discussed a case of CHF decompensation secondary to atrial flutter with rapid ventricular response.

Atrial flutter is an arrhythmia of organized atrial activity that is not a sinus rhythm. It can be seen its own or sometime as a transition arrhythmia between sinus rhythm and atrial fibrillation.

Any disorders predisposing to atrial fibrillation can cause atrial flutter including thyrotoxicosis, obesity, the sick sinus syndrome, pericarditis, pulmonary disease, and pulmonary embolism. Mitral valve prolapse and cardiac surgery are also risk factors for developing atrial flutter.

Atrial flutter is very similar to atrial fibrillation its clinical presentation and should be treated the same in terms of rate control and anticoagulation. Ablations therapy is very successful for atrial flutter, however, so long-term antiarrhythmic medications are infrequently used.

Here is review on managment of Atrial Flutter.

* the hallmark of atrial flutter on ECG is the saw-tooth pattern (also referred as a picket fence pattern).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Light's Criteria for Pleural Effusion

Today at morning report we discussed the Light's Criteria.

Light's criteria for exudative effusion are any of
protein level pleural:serum over 0.5
LDH pleural:serum of over 0.6
pleural LDH over 2/3 upper limit of normal for serum

The combination of the three criteria has a higher sensitivity, but a lower specificity, than each individual criterion. Light's criteria are sensitive for exudate; may have transudates falsely called exudates. If clinical appearance suggests transudate but Light's criteria says exudate, measure albumin in serum vs. pleural fluid. If serum albumin is over 12 greater than pleural fluid almost all have transudative.

Our case had a bloody effusion, which narrows Ddx somewhat to cancer, PE, trauma, infection (inc. pneumonia, TB)

Here is a review of Pleural Effusion by Dr. Light himself!

*A large left sided pleural effusion as seen on an upright chest X-ray.


At Gel Rounds we discussed ascites.

Some key points:

Most sensitive findings (i.e. make it unlikely if not present):
1) flank dullness
2) bulging flanks
3) shifting dullness
4) peripheral edema
-history of increased girth, weight gain, ankle swelling

Most specific findings (i.e. make it likely if present)
1) fluid wave
2) shifting dullness

An approach to the examination in liver disease (besides examining the liver itself)

1) Signs of decompensated liver disease
-jaundice, scleral icterus, dark urine (high bilirubin)
-petechiae, ecchymoses (coagulopathy)
-edema (hypoalbuminemia)
-asterixis, level of consciousness (encephalopathy)

2) Signs of portal hypertension
-dilated abdominal veins (extreme of this is caput medusae)


Click here for JAMA rational clinical exam on ascites.

* using the ultrasound, we looked at the Pouch of Morrison, which is a potential space between the liver and the right kidney. This is the first spot to check if you suspect a small amount of ascites. The picture shows Morison's pouch with fluid present (red arrows).