Canadian Society of Internal Medicine does Lung Ultrasound!



Happy to be hosting a satellite event for the CSIM Annual meeting taking place in Montreal.  As an internist, I’ve been long wanting to see my colleagues working on the wards integrate bedside ultrasound into their practice. After all, as an ICU guy, i try to catch the patients spiralling down. However, bedside ultrasound in the care of hospitalized patients should actually have a greater impact! Wait, I hope I’m not promoting myself out of a job here… Oh well it is for the patients’ benefit.

But it’s true, preventing deterioration is best done well…prior to the deterioration.

Anyhow, looks like we’re gonna have a pretty good day, focused on lung ultrasound:




The faculty – besides me – is excellent: Andre Denault and Georges Desjardins are pros at doing and teaching, and workshop instructors Ian Ajmo and Philippe St-Arnaud, intensivist colleagues from my shop’s team, are great too.

I’m hoping that the echo-naive participants leave fully convinced that practicing acute care without ultrasound is essentially unethical, given today’s accessibility to the technology.  I hope they can see that it out-does the most educated guesses we can muster, most of the time. Because that is what we do when held to the limitations of physical exam, even if DeGowin, Bates and Shapira were doing the physical exams themselves…





MOPOCUS: A great synopsis by Ha & Toh. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMus

Just came across this review and figured I should share. The authors make a great synopsis and review of POCUS in acute illness:

MOPOCUS Review by Ha &To

The only thing I would add to this is a more physiological way to assess the IVC, which I’ve blogged about here.  Sadly, I’ve heard a few people stating how they didn’t want to get into the dogma of IVC ultrasound, that it wasn’t reliable, etc.  The IVC doesn’t lie. It’s just not a recipe. The IVC findings have to be integrated into the rest of the echo graphic and clinical examination.  Trying to use it as a single value is akin to using serum Na+ as a diagnostic test for volume. It works only sometimes.

Please spread among the POCUS non-believers. We’ll convert them, slowly but surely. But the sooner, the better for the patients. Again, there’s no excuse to practice acute care without ultrasound. It’s not right. I’m not saying every probe-toting MD is better than one without, but everyone would up their game by adding POCUS, once past the learning curve!




Tom Woodcock: The Revised Starling Principle and The Glycocalyx! #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

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So today, I had the chance of having a private tutorial with Dr. Thomas Woodcock (@thomaswoodcock) about the glycocalyx and the revised Starling principles.  For anyone interested in fluid resuscitation, this is an area you have to delve into. The basic principles we all learned (which are still being taught) are basically the physiological equivalent of the stick man we all started drawing as toddlers: overly simplified and far from an accurate representation of reality.

Now my first disclaimer is that I have been a colloid supporter for many years. My physiological logic for that had been to minimize the crystalloid spillover into inflamed/septic areas, particularly the lungs and abdomen, when those are the septic sources. However, I was likely misled by my education and lack of knowledge about the endothelium.

So I stumbled upon the whole glycocalyx thing a couple years ago, and this prompted me to try more enteral fluids – the only way fluids normally ever enter the vasculature – but little else. Aware that it’s there, but unsure what to do about it.

Now a year and a half ago, Andre Denault, my closest thing to a mentor, casually dropped the line to me about albumin not working. “Don’t use it. It doesn’t act the way we think it does.”  But it was a brief chat, and I didn’t get to pick his brain about it.  Just a few weeks ago, I discuss with Jon Emile (Kenny), and he’s coming to the same conclusion.  Damn. I’m finding it a bit harder to hang on to my albumin use, which is beginning to look a bit dogmatic and religious.

Here is Jon-Emile’s take on it – a must-read.

Here is Tom Woodcock’s site and article – another must-read.

And here is my discussion (in two parts) with Tom (to skip the silence, skip forward to about 30 seconds into each – sorry my editing skills are limited!)


Bottom line?

Probably stick to isotonic crystalloids, and some hypertonics.


Love to hear some thoughts!






The NYC Tracks with Jon-Emile: The Glycocalyx – The Next Frontier. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

I was really psyched when Jon-Emile mentioned he would like to talk about the glycocalyx.  I first blogged about it here, basically when I stumbled on the extensive literature on this huge organ we have been completely ignoring in terms of physiology and therapeutics. It lines our entire endothelium, which is where most of our therapeutic interventions go, and we only heard of it in passing, possibly in histology class as med 1’s.   Hmmm.  Anyhow, here, Jon-Emile and I talk about it a little, discuss possible clinical implications, but more importantly Jon mentions the relatively new blog of Dr. Thomas Woodcock (@thomaswoodcock),, who is one of the pioneer clinicians who have studied the glycocalyx, and who is now trying to bridge the bench to the bedside.

I’ve been fortunate enough to get in touch with him and we’re planning to record some discussions soon.

So, in my view, the glycocalyx is a formidable force we have been ignoring, and have been damaging often with our interventions. I’m hoping to see some developments allowing glycocalyx assessment outside of the labs in order to give us the tools to reassess every fluid in terms of the relative damage it does to what is essentially the gatekeeper between the blood and the tissues.

Love to hear some comments!

Here is the chat with Jon:





The NYC Tracks with Jon-Emile part 2: a discussion on congestion, pulmonary and otherwise. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMus

So here is our second discussion, where we delve a bit into diuretic physiology, the issue of organ congestion, the myth of the “low-flow” acute renal failure associated with CHF (see earlier post), and a couple other things including a great way to determine if a patient isn’t respecting the low salt diet prescription!

I meant to, but forgot to discuss with Jon what I think is an important end-point in CHF management: the IVC. Yes, it is useful not just to make the diagnosis of congestion, but also target normalization of IVC physiology prior to discharge. It just makes common sense. If you decongest a patient just enough to get them off O2 and send them home, they bounce back a lot quicker than if you make sure you’re given them some intravascular leeway.  How do you determine this? Simple enough, make sure your IVC is down at least to below 20mm, and has recovered the classic acxvy and respiratory variation. I personally try to get into the 8-12 mm range, but that’s arbitrary. Here is some good data for 20mm:


Without further due, here is the NYS Track 2:


Please share your thoughts!





The NYC Tracks with Jon-Emile: Paracentesis and Volume Status. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMus

So I was in NYC last week and met up with my buddy Jon-Emile Kenny, (@heart_lung), intensivist-physiologist extraordinaire, and we recorded a few discussions on practical matters.

I always love to debunk myths and avoid dogmatic guesswork, and, more often than not, Jon, with his encyclopedic knowledge of the physiology literature, but more importantly a cutting edge understanding of it, can back up my vague ideas and empirically derived ideas, so that the next time someone asks me why this is so, I can have a semi-enlightened answer!

So here is the first, where we discuss the common question about the need (or not) of intravascular volume repletion during or following large volume paracentesis. Yes, there are some formulas out there as to how much albumin or crystalloid one should give, due to the worry of subsequent hypovolemia. Note how those formulas use no data about your patient’s volume status at the time of paracentesis, so as far as I’m concerned, they have no value whatsoever in an era where we can assess this. Yes, ultrasound is the base as far as I’m concerned.

Here we go:

Please share your thoughts!




Wicked bedside US case from a CCUS Fellow! #FOAMed, #FOAMus

So a few weeks ago I was glad to meet the latest of the CCUS Fellows, Dr. Mathieu Brunet. This guy practices in the Magdalen Islands, and came to spend 3 days with me in the ICU to sharpen his bedside ultrasound skills. In fact, his technicals skills were already very good, so we spent most of the time reviewing how one integrates the bedside ultrasound data into clinical practice. We overlapped a fair bit into critical care management and resuscitation, naturally.

Well, a couple of weeks later, he tells me about a great case he’d had where he was already able to apply some of the skills he’s sharpened:

Hi Philippe,

I had this trauma case this week that I think highlights once again the usefullness of POCUS in making meaningful and timely bedside clinical decisions. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the images…

A 50 year old man was brought in by EMS after a 4 meter fall. He had isolated TBI and presented with a glascow of 5 (decorticating). An obvious right temporal deformity and a right fixed mydriasis were noted in the primary survey. My initial thoughts in the context of TBI was ongoing uncal engagement…a poor prognosis sign to say the least. However I noticed in the secondary survey a significant right periorbital ecchymosis with what seems to be a stint of exophtalmia. Was the bleeding solely preseptal, or could a retrobulbar hematoma explains the mydriasis? I reached for the ultrasound while anesthesia was intubating and was able to visualise black hypoechoic fluid in the retroorbital area. I promptly proceded to do a lateral canthotomy and a few minutes later both pupils were equal and reactive! This completly changed the momentum of the rescucitation since we were now looking at a patient with a much better prognosis then an actively herniating one! POCUS also resulted in a much shorter occular ischemia time since there would have been a significant delay if discovered only by the radiologist on CT scan.

Also, I was able to record a baseline internal carotid doppler waveform in the first minutes of rescucitation showing a markedly reduced diastolic flow (wasn’t able to find a vessel by TCD). I subsequently noticed improvement of the waveform following administration of mannitol which prompted me to be more agressive on the hyperosmolar therapy (started an hypertonic saline drip) despite the absence of clinical improvement at that time. In the next few hours, the patient waveforms further improved and the patient started withdrawing to pain.



The patient eventually transfered to the level one trauma center and unfortunately passed away a few days later in the neuro-ICU.

I thought that the case illustrates interesting applications of POCUS in the management of TBI and facial trauma:

1) Quick confirmation of orbital compression which can be mistaken for a third cranial nerve compression. This can be sight saving since irreversible damage occurs after 60 minutes of ischemia.
2) Assessment of the response to hyperosmolar therapy before clinical response is apparent, or in the paralysed patient.

Please share your thoughts!



Great job Mathieu, even if all can’t be saved. Tough case. Never having done a canthotomy, lateral or otherwise, I’m glad it was you and not me! One a serious note, I wonder if this patient had a decompressive craniotomy, which seems the only physiological therapy for the “brain compartment syndrome”  we too often seem to try to treat medically.

I completely agree with your POCUS points. Too often naysayers (always those who can’t do POCUS) say “well, we would have found it on the CT, so this ultrasound stuff really isn’t necessary.”  That is fine when time is not of the essence. In acute care, it is.

Another key point is the even greater utility of POCUS in remote areas of practice such as yours, where resources are limited, and the decision to transfer must be done rapidly and accurately.

But great use of CNS POCUS indeed. Next time save the pics and clips!!!