Ok so so far, the votes show the following:
So, as most of you had figured out, the fever and white count turned out to be fairly insignificant. I started diuretics on him and stopped IV fluids (in truth, he spent a few hours still receiving IV NS at 100cc/hr as it sadly slipped by me – I know… NS to add insult to injury). I also stopped antibiotics to the alarm of some, but keep in mind we have a lot of c.difficile in our institution, and I did not believe the had CHF AND a significant pneumonia (that would go against Occam’s razor…). He was not septic, and another discrepancy that led me away from the diagnosis of pneumonia is that a patient with significant bilateral infiltrates due to pneumonia is sick: toxic, dyspneic, fulfills Scott’s LLS score of 1 (Looks Like Shit – range 0 to 1).
Within a few hours and perhaps a negative balance of a liter or so, he feels much better. Here is his IVC at that point:
36 hours later, his CXR is clear and he is off O2.
Angiogram turns out normal – as anticipated – EKG only ever had some vague non-specific ST abnormalities. He likely had a viral cardiomyopathy – some ancillary tests still pending (HIV, etc), but is to be discharged soon.
For those who voted pneumonia, certainly initially it could not be ruled out, only the clinical evolution made it highly unlikely as a significant player.
For those who felt this represented pulmonary embolism, remember that the primary hemodynamic mechanism will be right heart failure, hence the RV would most likely be as large, and potentially larger depending on the severity of the embolism. Again, this cannot be ruled out by bedside ultrasound, it can only be ruled out as a main cause of respiratory failure. Also note that the chest xray is generally normal, or may show the peripheral wedge shaped infarct (Hampton’s hump). Bilateral infiltrates would not be the rule. But it’s always a good thing to keep it in mind!
I think this case illustrates well the limitations of physical examination, and although more commonly, pneumonias (especially in the elderly) get digressed because they “had crackles,” sometimes, patients we might not expect may have CHF.
From the moment one notes a large, plethoric IVC, one should anticipate downstream pathology of some kind (overzealous iatrogenic fluid overload being the exception), whether tamponade, pulmonary embolism, LV failure, pulmonary hypertension, but something.
Hence, in this case, bedside ultrasound proved invaluable. After all, he was recieving less-than-optimal therapy for CHF: fluids and antibiotics… This may be a case that would have proceeded to “ARDS”, and although I don’t doubt that at some point along the line, an echo would have been done, the delay may have had consequences. In our center, no one gets into the ICU without at the very least a cardiopulmonary bedside ultrasound. It is done routinely, not only for specific indications – the real indication is having a patient in front of you.
Please don’t forget, if this is up your alley, don’t miss CCUS 2015: Way Beyond EGDT and ACLS!!! #CCUS2015
Jon Emile says:
Great case, great windows and images. I agree with your management totally. I do recall once, however, having a patient admitted for heart failure following a bedside TTE performed by a great resident, unfortunately [and in retrospect] the patient likely had a septic cardiomyopathy. The patient felt great with diuresis, but then his BP crashed as the sepsis took hold.
Recall the classic paper by Parrillo NEJM 1993 who looked at the left ventricle during the acute phase of septic shock and found LVEDV to LVESV values of 225 ml to 150 mL. The EF was in the low 30s. During the recovery phase, LVEDV to LVESV was 150 to 75 mL and EF of 50%. He noted that dilation of the left ventricle seemed to confer a mortality benefit, & that this may be a compensatory response to maintain stroke volume. This may be more striking in young patients as yours. When I first read your case a mycoplasma peri-myocarditis came to mind [I treated a case of this as a resident in the Manhattan VA]. The classic finding in this disease being bullous myringitis.
Thanks for the awesome echo videos!
Great point Jon! Septic cardiomyopathy – which is very common – is definitely something to keep in mind. Indeed the LV dilation noted by Parillo would be a sensical adaptation to limited contractility. I remember seeing a particularly impressive case in a young woman with significant dilation and an EF in the 15-20% range, with incredibly rapid recovery to the 40’s and 50’s by a day later. I’ve yet to see septic cardiomyopathy happen, however, in a patient who isn’t that sick, i.e. no pressors, no acidosis, etc…
Great point about mycoplasma, which was brought up by our ID consultant at first, but who also agreed he wasn’t that sick and agreed to stop once noting the CXR had cleared with diuresis.
Thanks for reading!