This is the post excerpt.




Cognitive Forcing Strategies


  • Killers (11): SAH, ICH, meningitis, ENT/facial infection, CO poisoning, temporal arteritis, venous sinus thrombosis, cervical artery dissection, glaucoma, IIH, preeclampsia
  • Tx sequence: ivf, metoclopramide + benadryl, toradol, decadron. Sphenopalatine block.

Chest Pain

  • Killers (6): ACS, PE, ao dissection, tamponade, PTX, PNA
  • STEMI equivalents: aVR elevation, deep inverted/biphasic Ts (Wellens), ant precordial STD (posterior MI), hyperacute ST slope (deWinter), modified Sgarbossa in LBBB, *isolated TWI or STD in aVL*
  • Tx tips: ASA immed, NTG ointment, morphine worsens outcomes
  • Tips: pain above & below diaphragm = dissection w/u,

Syncope Plus

  • Structural/electrical heart disease or FH: arrhythmia
  • Exertion: HOCM
  • Young woman with abdominal pain: ectopic pregnancy
  • Older male with abdominal/flank pain: AAA
  • Sudden severe HA: SAH
  • Malignancy, SOB: PE



Agitated patient

  • Sequence: Must be undressed. Needs met? Verbal de-escalation, show of force, offer “something for the nerves” po, chemical + physical restraints (need to document & remove asap)
  • give home meds if possible, haldol 2-5mg IM +/- ativan 1-2mg IM, quetiapine/seroquel, olanzapine/zyprexa (safest for QTc)
  • Tips: avoid bzd in elderly and autistic, avoid antipsychotics if suspect tox, avoid benadryl in elderly


Procedural sedation
midazolam 0.05mg/kg IV, or haloperidol 5mg IV pretreatment to prevent recovery agitation after ketamine

Sick patient

  • eval: iv x 2 (io), O2, monitor, A-B-C-Dextrose
  • shock: empty tank (hypovolemia/hemorrhage), leaky tank (anaphylaxis, sepsis), pump failure (cardiogenic, dissection), obstructive (PE, tamponade)
  • Hs (5) & Ts (6): H’s, hypo/hyperK, hypoxia, hypovol, hypothermia; TPTX, tamponade, thrombosis ACS, thrombosis PE, tox, trauma
  • post ROSC (3): BP, EKG, gas, pressor
  • calling codes: unwitnessed arrest, nonshockable rhythm, no ROSC, age >60, pH<7, unknown downtime, pocus echo. K>12 futile.



  • airway H&P (each with high LR+ for difficult airway): hx difficult tube, snoring, LEMON (Look externally [beard, retrognathia, obesity], Eval 3-3-2, Mallampati, Obstruction, Neck mobility), inability to exaggerate underbite (new!)
  • prep: SOAPME, position is ramped up, +/- push-dose pressor at hand (+bicarb if also severely acidotic), post-tube sedation +/- pressors hung, voice plan and backup to team

SCD patient

  • no O2 if not hypoxic!
  • no fluids if euvolemic (esp in AChS)! Only give D51/2NS, hypotonic fluids prevent further sickling. Bolus only for septic unstable patients.

Before discharge

  • have vitals normalized?
  • PO challenge? Road test?
  • review labs, imaging, & documentation – Does everything make sense? Any incidental findings?


Shoulder Reductions

elbow technique (new!)
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.02.36 AM

Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.11.15 AM.png

scapular rotation: scapular tip pushed medially, acromion inferiorly (open-book)
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.03.07 AM

vertical pull (Spaso): lift arm vertically, fully externally rotate, and pull toward ceiling
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.02.05 AM

external rotation (Kocher): slowly rotate externally with humerus parallel to torso, then maintain externally rotate until cross midline
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.06.58 AM

lateral extension (Milch): while externally rotated and providing traction on the humerus, slowly extend laterally until above 90′
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.18.35 AMScreen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.18.45 AMScreen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.18.53 AM

traction-countertraction: tie sheets so that traction is pulled on humerus while body in place
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.20.21 AM.png

passive traction (Stimson): apply weight to extremity while pt prone (for young healthy pts only)
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.23.53 AMScreen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.32.51 AM

oscillating method (Fares): while keeping traction, oscillate up and down while slowly extending laterally. Best if kept extremity in external rotation.
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.25.43 AMScreen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.25.52 AMScreen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.26.09 AM

up-close-and-personal (Cunningham): pt’s hand on your ipsil shoulder, put downward pressure on their elbow. With free hand, massage biceps and rotator cuff muscles.
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.33.54 AM


POSTERIOR dislocation traction-countertraction:
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.37.26 AM

INFERIOR dislocation traction-countertraction:
Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 10.39.11 AM.png



Burn transfer criteria:
Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 7.24.17 PM

3 mL of lactated Ringer’s solution x weight in kilograms x % of body surface area burned (partial- and full-thickness burns)

Trauma in pregnant pts
–have a low threshold for giving Rhogam

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 1.54.56 PM
-types II & III may disrupt cribriform plate – look for CSF rhinorrhea

Traumatic iritis = inflam of ciliary body
-cycloplegic (homatropine. Relieve photophobia) +/- topical steroids (ONLY optho can Rx)

Globe rupture – elevate bed >30′ to reduce ocular pressure and prevent further extravasation (avoid sux if intubating – incr IOP)
-give abx prophyl

Infraorbital anesthesia is associated with this fracture due to injury to the infraorbital nerve. Other findings on physical exam include enophthalmos due to herniation of globe contents before the onset of edema. Diplopia on upward gaze occurs with entrapment of the inferior rectus muscle leading to binocular diplopia 

7 areas of ICH on CT Head: spinal cord, midbrain, 4th ventricle, lateral ventricles, gyri and sulci, gray-white matter differentiation

Spinal shock = cord concussion

3 types of pelvic fractures:
– lateral compression (T-bone MVC/pedestrian hit from side)
—look for vertical fracture of sacrum
—no benefit from pelvic binders
—mostly “elderly” (age >55) pts at risk of bleeding – calcified vessels break easily
—if suspect bleeding or binder already placed, benefits generally outweigh potential harm of overreduction so do not remove
– AP fracture (head on MVC)
– vertical shear (fall)


Hyponatremia & Hypernatremia

-Send serum osmolality!
-determine fluid status: hypo-, eu-, or hypervolemic
-Use formulas!

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 5.57.19 PM

-if asymptomatic, fluid restriction. Don’t give fluids!
-if altered/seizing,
-max rate of correction = 8 mEq/h
-Goal: <10-12 mEq total increase in 24h

Hypovolemic hyponatremia mechanism = decreased  arterial perfusion of kidneys -> ADH secretion -> reabsorption of free water
–fix the underlying problem: volume replete

Hypervolemic hyponatremia (CHF, cirrhosis) mechanism = depleted intravascular volume despite excess extravascular volume = decreased effective arterial perfusion of kidneys -> ADH secretion -> reabsorption of free water

Euvolemic hyponatremia
-SIADH – inappropriate excess ADH secretion
-psychogenic (excess free water intake), beer potomonia + “tea and toast syndrome” (inadequate solute intake)

-bolus NS if shock/hypoperfusion
-replace total body water (TBW) deficit


1. Treat Neurologic Emergencies Related to Hyponatremia

In the event of a seizurecoma or suspected cerebral herniation as a result of hyponatremia, IV 3% hypertonic saline should be administered as soon as possible according to the following guide:

  1. Administer 3% hypertonic saline 100-150cc IV over 5-10min
  2. If the patient does not improve clinically after the first bolus, repeat a second bolus of hypertonic saline.
  3. Stop all fluids after the second bolus of hypertonic saline to avoid raising the serum sodium any further

What if hypertonic saline is not readily available? –> Administer one ampule of Sodium Bicarbonate IV over 5min.

Ringer’s lactate has a sodium concentration of 128mmol/L which will be more isotonic to the hyponatremic patient. Although never shown in clinical studies, administering Ringer’s lactate will likely result is a slower rise in serum serum sodium than Normal Saline, and therefore have a lower risk of potentiating osmotic demyelination syndrome. Ringer’s lactate is therefore recommended by our experts as the fluid of choice for resuscitation of the hypovolemic/hyponatremic patient.

Practical Approach to the Differential Diagnosis of Hyponatremia

  1. Look at chief complaint: look for conditions which can increase output or decrease intake such as vomiting and diarrhea, pain or altered level of awareness
  2. Review Medication List: look for those that cause SIADH, especially thiazide diuretics and SSRIs; patients who have been on chronic steroids may have adrenal insufficiency
  3. Evaluate PMHx: Look for history of end organ failure (CHF, liver failure and renal failure) or cancers (a cause of SIADH)
  4. Lab work: glucose (hyperglycemia), potassium (hyperkalemia may suggest adrenal insufficiency), TSH (hypothyroidism)

Note: if by history the hyponatremia is acute, it is safe to correct it quickly. The patients who are at risk of central pontine demyelinolysis are those whose hyponatremia is chronic.


Other lytes concepts:
-replete low ionized Ca after PRBC transfusions (contains citrate)
-alkylosis (ex: primary hyperventilation) causes more Ca from its ionized state to be bound to albumin (may develop signs of hypoCa)
-severe hypocalcemia -> cardiovascular collapse (loss of contractility/inotropy)
-hypocalcemia -> QTc prolongation -> torsades
-CaCl2 = 3x more ions than Ca-gluconate

-beware of further increasing serum bicarb for a pt that is hypoventilating (ex CHF exacerbation) – will worsen compensatory respiratory acidosis (hypercarbia). This is why MICU gives acetazolamide to CHF pts on BIPAP
-Dialysis dysequilibrium syndrome (dizziness during dialysis) – due to the rather rapid removal of BUN, which has an osmotic effect
—–serum osmolality = 2x(Na) + glucose/18 + BUN/2.8

0.9% NS = 154 mEq Na
0.45% NS = 77 mEq
plasmalyte = 140 mEq
LR = 128 mEq
D5W = 0 mEq
3% hypertonic saline = 513 mEq (3 / 0.9 = 3.33 x 154mEq)


Cervical Spine Fractures

Assess alignment of the vertebrae as assessed by intact anterior spinal, posterior spinal, and spinolaminar lines (it should be possible to draw a smooth curved line touching all 7 cervical vertebrae at each of these locations without interruption).

Any soft-tissue swelling or disruption of normal lines, in the setting of trauma, suggests occult fracture or ligamentous injury.

In children under 8, ligamentous laxity of the upper C-spine can cause anterior displacement of C2 on C3, a normal variant called pseudosubluxation, which can be confused with an acute ligamentous injury. Up to 4 mm is normal in children <8yo.
Check Swishuk’s line (the line drawn in the additional image between the anterior aspects of the spinous processes of C1 and C3—in pediatric pseudosubluxation, it will be within 2 mm of the anterior aspect of the C2 spinous process).
((((pic in case 7 additional images))))

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 6.35.39 PM

In general: If both spinal columns are disrupted, the spine will move as 2 separate pieces, and there is high likelihood of that movement’s causing or worsening spinal cord injury. If only 1 column is disrupted, the other column resists further movement, and the likelihood of a spinal cord injury occurring is less and depends on the strength of the intact ligaments.

Unstable fracturesJefferson Bit Off a Hangman’s Thumb: Jefferson burst fracture (C1), Bilateral facet dislocation, Odontoid fractures (C2), Hangman fracture (C2), Teardrop fracture

  • Jefferson burst fracture: C1, axial load
  • Odontoid fracture: high cervical pain radiating to the occiput
  • Hangman fracture: C2, extreme hyperextension

The Hangman’s fracture, or spondylolysis of C2, occurs when the cervicocranium (skull, atlas, and axis) is thrown into extreme hyperextension as a result of abrupt decelerationBilateral fractures of the pedicles of the axis (C2) occur with or without dislocation. Although a hangman’s fracture is unstablecord damage is often minimal because the AP diameter of the neural canal is greatest at the C2 level, and the bilateral pedicular fractures permit the spinal canal to decompress itself.
-Deficits on neurologic exam are more likely due to associated head injury or vertebral artery injury than to damage to the spinal cord directly
-concomitant C spine injuries (esp C1-C3) are common – look for them
-immobilize and consult spine specialist ASAP

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 5.28.41 PM

  • A flexion teardrop fracture results when severe flexion forces cause anterior displacement of a wedge-shaped fragment (resembling a teardrop) of the anteroinferior portion of the involved vertebral body. This fracture involves complete disruption of the ligamentous structures at the level of the injury. This leads to a highly unstable fracture.

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 5.20.03 PM

Flexion injuries can cause unstable injuries such as atlantoaxial dislocation, bilateral facet dislocations, and teardrop fractures, as well as stable injuries, such as spinous process avulsions (e.g. clay shoveler’s fracture) or simple wedge fractures.

Facet dislocation:
Unilateral facet dislocations typically present with ipsilateral radiculopathy (the affected superior facet displaces into the neural foramen) and less than 50% anterior vertebral body displacement on lateral radiographs
—considered stable, but a significant percentage have associated cord injury
—Head often held deviated away from the side of the injury, unable to straighten
—may be palpable malalignment of spinous processes
Bilateral facet dislocations often have frank neurologic deficit with greater than 50% vertebral body displacement on x rays
—unstable, majority have cord injury
—may have bony stepoff
-mgmt: immobilize in hard collar, but if spine locked, do not force it. Use sandbags, towel rolls, and tape instead
-call spine specialist (NSG) for closed reduction in ED prior to going to OR
-perform serial neurologic exams – neurologic deficit may worsen after closed reduction (from disc protrusion)
(((pic case 2))))

C2 (axis) fracture
-odontoid/dens fractures: Types I (tip), II (base), & III (body of C2)
—type III is unstable (involves C2 ring)
—consult ortho/NSG for mgmt for all of these
-The lateral masses of C1 should align perfectly with the lateral masses of C2 (blue lines). The medial aspect of the C1 lateral masses should be equidistant to the odontoid (letter A – in this case asymmetrically widened on the right). A distance of >7mm from a C1 lateral mass to the dens indicates transverse ligament rupture or C1 burst (Jefferson) fracture
-immobilize, MRI
(((pic case 3, diagnosis))))

Transverse spinous process fracture:
-there is a significant association between transverse process fractures and intraabdominal injury (given high energy mechanism), so these fractures should be regarded as possible markers for abdominal organ injuries, even though the spine is stable
-obtain CT abd/pelv with recon of T/L spine to look for intraabd injuries and other associated spine fractures
-if isolated, pain control and early mobilization

Lower spine fractures:

-it is important to distinguish a burst fracture from a simple compression fracture. In a simple compression fracture, the compression should only involve the anterior aspect of the vertebral body. In a burst, the posterior vertebral body is also compressed (and thus more likely to injure spinal cord).
–unstable if neuro deficit, >50% loss of vertebral body height, >20 degrees angulation at the thoracolumbar junction, canal compromise
—–dispo determined by ability to control pain. These pts can go home with TLSO brace or to rehab
If there is loss of height of the posterior portion of the vertebral body or retropulsed bone, the diagnosis is burst fracture. Burst fractures are unstable!

Upper Extremity Fractures

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.53.17 AM

Bones susceptible to avascular necrosis: scaphoid, lunate, capitate, talus, navicular, 5th metatarsal, femoral neck.

Ring structures, such as the pelvis, mandible, and C1 vertebrae, tend to disrupt in more than one location.


*Ring removal is the first priority for any injury with potential for digit swelling

Boxer’s Fracture:
-look for fight bite
-degree of rotation should be assessed by having the patient make a fist – all of the fingers should point to the scaphoid without overlap or “scissoring” of fingers.
-reduce if degree of angulation >45′
—hand is held in a clenched fist, while simultaneous dorsal force is applied on the flexed PIP joint and volar force applied to the proximal metacarpal shaft
hematoma block, a needle is inserted into the fracture and blood aspirated to confirm appropriate placement, then 5cc of lidocaine (without epinephrine) or bupivacaine is injected
ulnar nerve block, 5cc of anesthetic is injected proximal to the ulnar styloid between the ulnar artery (medial) and the tendon of the flexor carpi ulnaris (lateral).

Distal tuft fracture:
-Irrigation, debridement, and IV antibiotics are indicated for open tuft fractures
-prompt referral to a hand surgeon

  1. If the nail plate is intact, leave it in place. Drain the subungual hematoma (via trephination of the nail) to relieve pain and prevent pressure necrosis
  2. Damage or loss of the nail plate requires nail removal, nail bed repair with 6-0 chromic suture, and protection.

-Surgery if the dorsal surface of the phalanx that supports the nail matrix has significant step-off – requires reduction of the nail bed to a flat surface and surgical repair

Mallet Finger: = PIP extensor tendon injury
= either an avulsion of the extensor tendon (without fracture) or an avulsion fracture at the tendon’s attachment at base of the distal phalanx
-clinically: unable to extend the DIP joint actively (passive extension intact)
-pts may present late as pain often is minimal and deformity may be subtle
-splint in slight hyperextension with rapid follow-up with the hand specialist
-splint can be placed on the dorsal or volar surface of the DIP joint with the other joints left mobile
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 12.52.07 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.51.26 PM

Bennett’s Fracture:
= fracture at the base of first metacarpal with subluxation of the first metacarpal from the carpo-metacarpal joint
-usu due to axial load injury (ex punching)
-pain and swelling at the thumb base
-exam: limited ROM, CMC instability is frequently noted with gentle stress of the first metacarpal
-this injury may severely affect function bc the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint is critical for pinch and opposition
-can attempt to reduce (thumb traction combined + metacarpal extension) and immobilize in thumb spica however usu strength of APL subluxes the metacarpal again. Often require ORIF – prompt follow-up with a hand specialist
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 1.01.16 PM
Rolando’s fracture is a communicated Bennett’s fracture
–need true lateral of the 1st CMC joint xray – for accurate evaluation, determine whether surgery is needed
-thumb spica splint – from just distal to 1st IP joint to mid-forearm with 25 degrees extension at the CMC joint and 0 degrees at the MCP and IP joints.
-early hand follow up

Gamekeeper’s thumb
= injury of the ulnar collateral ligament of the first digit with or without concomitant avulsion fracture of first proximal phalanx
-UCL helps stabilize the thumb MCP joint. It inserts on the ulnar side of the proximal phalanx (next to the webspace). UCL disruption causes significant instability and morbidity
-mechanism: abduction and hyperextension of thumb
-exam: ttp over ulnar aspect of base of proximal phalanx of thumb. Stress the UCL by applying valgus pressure, compare with unaffected side. May need local anesthesia prior
-if suspected, immobilize in thumb spica and f/u with hand 
Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 9.54.52 AM

Proximal phalanx fracture:
-usu angulated due to forces exerted by the extensors and interosseous muscles
check for rotational deformities, which may be more easily diagnosed by physical exam than radiographically. Have the patient flex all the digits simultaneously. Each finger should point toward the scaphoid. If the injured finger points in a different direction than the others when flexed, a rotational deformity is present. Also assess for nerve and tendon injuries.
-stable, nondisplaced, and nonrotated fractures can be buddy taped
-Reduction (difficult) and immobilization in a gutter splint if unstable: rotational deformity, displaced >5mm, angulated >15mm, or intraarticular
-Surgical fixation if reduction fails, comminution, or in athletes
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 1.41.28 PM

PIP dislocation (uncommon in DIP joint which is very stable)
-clinically: unable to extend finger at PIP joint
-reduce (mild exaggeration in the direction of the dislocation to disengage from the articular plate. Then the clinician applies longitudinal traction and firm pressure on the proximal aspect of the middle phalanx to reduce the fracture) and immobilize
-obtain post-reduction films to assess for bony fragments not visualized on prior films
-the articular cartilage may be entrapped, and a hand specialist should be immediately consulted
-If there is evidence of complete ligamentous disruption in all directions on postreduction ROM testing, refer to a hand surgeon for possible operative repair
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 1.59.46 PM<– dorsal displacement/dislocations is more common
-Volar dislocations (pic below) are more difficult and often result in hand consultation
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 1.58.32 PM

Digit amputations
-obtain information to determine if pt is candidate for reimplantation: time of injury, mechanism of injury, hand dominance, tetanus status, past medical history, and occupation
-exam: note amount of soft tissue soiling and damage. Look for any devitalized tissue which may require debridement and inspect closely for exposed bone (this may be easier after obtaining hemostasis). Observe the amount of remaining nail matrix – remove if <5mm (unlikely to grow)
-amputated digits should immediately be covered in saline-soaked gauze and placed in watertight bag. This bag should then be immersed in a 50/50 mix of ice and water
-use pressure dressings, elevation, and tourniquets to control bleeding (no clamps!)
-treat as open fx and give abx

Proximal PIP avulsion fracture
-injury to volar plate (fibrocartilaginous) which stabilizes PIP joint
-hyperextension injury. Seen on lateral xray
-isolated avulsion fractures –> dorsal finger splint
-if concomitant dislocation (middle phalanx subluxes dorsally) –> reduce in the ED (disengage the middle phalanx, apply traction, and then flex the PIP joint). Place in dorsal extension block splint with the PIP joint in 30° of flexion
Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 3.39.00 PMScreen Shot 2018-01-29 at 3.38.21 PM


Colles’ fracture:
= distal radius fx with dorsal displacement
-eval for median nerve injury

Smith’s (or reverse Colles’) fracture:
= distal radius fx with volar displacement
-also eval for median nerve injury

Galeazzi Fracture:  RG 
= Fracture of the shaft of Radius + dislocation of distal radioulnar joint (widened DRUJ space)
-Mechanism: direct wrist trauma, FOOSH with forearm in pronation
-tx – OR acutely
—Compartment syndrome: increased risk with high energy crush injuries
—anterior interosseous nerve palsy: pure motor deficit – inability to pinch between the thumb and index finger
Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 3.59.08 PM

Monteggia Fracture: UM 
= Fracture of the proximal portion of the Ulna combined with dislocation of the radial head.
-FOOSH with the forearm in excessive pronation (hyper-pronation injury)
-Complications: radial nerve injury (common) or posterior interosseus nerve injury (pure motor deficit of finger extension)
-consult ortho for OR in adults (Reduction of the radial head and splinting in 90 degrees of flexion with the hand supinated may be done in the ED prior to surgery) or casting in children
-make sure that line drawn through middle of radius intersects capitellum in all views
Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 4.02.05 PM


Olecranon fracture:
-direct blow to elbow
-olecranon is essential for triceps strength and normal extension of the elbow
-exam: palpable bony fragment, inability to extend elbow against force
-eval for ulnar nerve injury: motor weakness of the interossei muscles of the hand and loss of sensation on the palmar surface of the fifth digit and hypothenar eminence
-displacement >2 mm –> surgery. A fracture line that displaces with flexion of the elbow is considered a displaced fracture
-nondisplaced fractures can be treated by immobilization in 45 to 90 degrees
-fractures that are displaced, involve articular surface, or with nerve injury  –> consult ortho in ED

Occult radial head fracture
-FOOSH mechanism (radial head driven against capitellum)
-look for posterior fat pad, displaced anterior fat pad (“sail sign”)
-exam: ttp of the lateral elbow, may have limited elbow ROM depending on the size of the effusion. Pain on passive forearm pronation, which rotates the radial head
-eval for AIN injury: have pt show OK sign
-sling for comfort with ortho follow up; if comminuted or displaced, immobilize with posterior mold

Supracondylar fracture
-FOOSH with elbow extension, adults and peds
-high risk of vascular injury: brachial artery injury or compartment syndrome – if missed, Volkmann’s ischemic contracture
-also assess ulnar, radial, and median nerve function
-obtain true lateral film: line along the anterior border of the humerus should bisect the capitellum. If not –> posteriorly displaced
-consult ortho for all of these to determine management; pt will likely need admission at the minimum to monitor for compartment syndrome, if not surgery

Elbow dislocation
-can occur in any direction; often assoc with fracture
-for posterior dislocations (most common), brachial artery and median nerve should be assessed before and after reduction attempts
-anterior dislocations are rare and severe. Eval for neurovascular injury
-Reduce by stabilizing the humerus while an assistant applies steady longitudinal traction is applied at the wrist. A “clunk” should be appreciated as the elbow reduces; the elbow then should be flexed to 90° and a posterior mold applied to the elbow in 90 degrees of flexion with the hand in neutral position, and the patient given a sling.
—also the Parvin method: Place the patient prone with the forearm hanging down off the bed with 5-10 lbs of weight hanging off the wrist. Reduction should occur within 15-20 minutes
-consult ortho for open dislocations or those associated with fractures


Humeral neck fractures:
-occur at surgical neck, anatomic neck, greater &/or lesser tuberosity
-use Neer classification system to guide management:

  • 1-part fractures: nondisplaced, nonangulated –> sling, ortho f/u as outpt
  • 2, 3, 4-part fracture: require ortho consult in ED for surgical planning & management

-obtain axillary or scapular (Y) views (give pain meds prior) to classify accurately and r/u glenohumeral dislocation
-Fractures of the anatomic neck are at risk for avascular necrosis due to the distal-to-proximal vascular supply of the proximal humerus –> close orthopedic f/u regardless of the Neer classification
-isolated greater tuberosity fractures with >5mm of displacement need prompt orthopedic follow-up
Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 1.44.46 PM.png

Humeral shaft fracture:
-in peds, think of child abuse esp if spiral (rotational force)
-eval for radial nerve injury and associated shoulder and elbow injuries
-consult ortho if: a neurovascular deficit, an open fracture, or a distal spiral shaft fracture
Transverse fractures: can be managed with a sugar-tong splint and a sling
Spiral or oblique fractures: reduction with traction, immobilized in a coaptation splint or a hanging arm splint. Do NOT use a sling in these cases because it worsens displacement
Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.04.04 PM


Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 1.16.53 PM.png
Anterior dislocation:
-severe pain, held in slight abduction and external rotation and often supported by the opposite extremity, “squared off” appearance (prominence of acromion)
-Assess for neurovascular injury, particularly axillary and radial nerves. Axillary nerve function can be assessed by testing for sensation over the lateral aspect of the shoulder and with motor function of shoulder abduction. The radial nerve can be assessed by asking the patient to extend the wrist and elbow and abducting the thumb
-if neurovascularly intact, obtain films before reduction (and after)
-postreduction films can detect bony defects caused by dislocation that are associated with an increased risk of recurrent shoulder dislocation:

  • Hill-Sach’s deformity -cortical depression (compression fracture) in the head of the humerus (blue arrow)
  • Bankart lesion – avulsion of the anteroinferior glenoid labrum (red arrow)Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 6.40.08 PM

-complications from most to least frequent: axillary nerve injury (anesthesia of deltoid), humeral head fracture (Hill-Sach’s), and glenoid rim disruption (Bankart)
-can use intra-articular anesthesia or conscious sedation (to decrease muscle tone) for reduction
-reduction techniques:

  • The Stimson technique of hanging weights from the forearm of the prone patient.
  • The two person technique of traction-countertraction with bedsheets.
  • External rotation of Leidelmeyer performed on the supine patient.
  • Elevation maneuver of Cooper and Milch.
  • Scapular manipulation.

-Shoulder immobilization for 3-6 weeks in younger patients, 1-2 weeks in patients over 40. Primary dislocations or cases with associated fracture, rotator cuff injury, axillary nerve injury require orthopedic follow-up
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 2.50.49 PMabnl          Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 2.51.55 PMnl

Posterior dislocation:
-severe pain with the arm held across the trunk in adduction and internal rotation
-usu there is no obvious deformity. The patient will not be able to range the shoulder.
-Neurovascular injuries are uncommon; associated fractures are common
-the normal overlap of the humeral head and the glenoid may be absent in posterior shoulder dislocations
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 2.25.49 PM
-on scapular Y or axillary views, the humeral appears lateral to the Y (actually posterior to the glenoid) rather than in-line with the Y
Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 2.27.13 PMScreen Shot 2018-01-26 at 2.33.28 PM.png
-blue line: the “trough line sign”, which represents an impaction fracture, or “reverse Hill-Sach’s” lesion (compression fracture of the anteromedial portion of the humeral head produced by the posterior cortical rim of the glenoid)
-reduce by applying axial traction. Anterior pressure from behind the humeral head may help coax the humeral head over the glenoid rim. Place in a sling or shoulder immobilizer and obtain postreduction films to better visualize fractures

Clavicular fracture:
-pts hold the arm adducted; shoulder ROM is limited due to pain. Point ttp, swelling and crepitance. Look for skin tenting and step-offs. Assess for neurovascular injury: brachial plexus and subclavian artery
-conservative mgmt with sling for nondisplaced fractures
-ortho referral for pts at risk of nonunion: distal clavicle fractures, displacement greater than one bone width, shortening >1.5cm, and elderly pts

AC separation:
-fall onto lateral shoulder while adducted. The AC ligaments rupture first, then the coracoclavicular (CC) ligaments
-exam: pain on the superior aspect of the shoulder, shoulder may sag and the clavicle appear prominent. +ttp over the AC joint. Shoulder ROM is often painful. +pain with cross arm adduction testing
-normal AC joint space is 3mm and the normal coracoclavicular distance is 13 mm
—an AC sprain (type 1) is ttp over AC joint without joint separation on films
Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.14.36 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.11.32 PM–> AC joint widened, CC intact
Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 2.06.10 PM–> both AC & CC joints widened (clavicle elevates)
-type 1 & 2 (just AC joint affected) –> sling and early ROM
-types 3 & up –> ortho consult to arrange for outpt surgical repair