Bedside Ultrasound Case: Look Left and Right! #FOAMed, #FOAMus

So I get a patient in the ED who had chest pain and a decreased LOC, vomited and got intubated. I see this elderly (88 yrs old) gentleman a couple of hours after presentation, after basic management including some plavix and heparin for a mildly elevated troponin.

Of course, by now you all realize that a rapid CUSE (Critical UltraSound Examination) is what I start with, after an ultrabasic history.

So my first couple of views show a more-or-less normal IVC, and here is the parasternal long axis:

Anything exciting here? Not really, nothing to hang your hat on at a glance.

Ok, so thanks to FOAM, I recently decided to add the right parasternal view to my regular exam, both to look for lung sliding (I admit I sometimes skip this when not specifically looking for pneumothorax) but also to possibly see some right sided pericardial abnormalities, etc… Here is what I see:

Hmm… A large, vascular structure that seems to have two lumens… a flap? Back to the patient exam, and the left toe is upgoing ¬†and seems more flaccid in the left upper extremity…

Lets creep up the vascular path to the neck vessels:

Here, we can clearly see that most of the carotid lumen (lower right) doesn’t have any flow. That’s suboptimal. In fact, only a small crescent of flow between 3 and 6 o’clock is seen.

Here is the CT:


So here we can clearly see the dissected ascending aortic aneurysm that extends into the right carotid artery.

Due to advanced age and dismal overall prognosis, support was discontinued after discussion with the family.

I thought this would be a great case to share due to the fact that it could have been an initial bedside diagnosis, but I have to say I consider it fortuitous that I happened to look right, then up – which I easily could not have done. Not that it made any difference in this case, but on the next one, it just might!


Thanks FOAM!