In this Chest X-Ray we can identify a left sided pneumothorax - there is absence of lung markings in the periphery and we can also see a shadow which outlines the edge of the lung. A pneumothorax is caused when air enters the potential space between the viceral and parietal pleura and causes the lung to collapse down under the pressure of it's elsatic recoil. In this case it is likely that the pneumothorax has been caused by trauma as we can see air in the soft tissues on the left side (surgical emphysema - clinically feels like bubble wrap). A pneumothorax can be a life threatening condition. The patient presents in respiratory distress with decreased expansion on the affected side. There will be hyperresonance to percussion on that side but absent breath sounds. The emergency treatment is decompression with a large bore cannula in the 2nd intercostal space mid-clavicular line followed by insertion a chest drain in the 5th intercostal space mid-axilllary line
Learn to: Locate midclavicular line, sternal angle, trachea, clavicle, sternoclavicular joint, xiphoid process of sternum, and costal margin. Count the ribs and intercostal spaces. Describe the surfaces markings of the heart: borders, apex, location of the valves, auscultatory areas. Trace the surface markings of the lung and pleura. Trace the surface markings of the lung fissures and lobes. Locate the position of the costodiaphragmatic and costomediastinal recesses of the pleura.
This PA Chest X-Ray demonstrates a left sided pleural effusion. In this condition fluid collects between the parietal and visceral pleura and appears as a shadowy fluid level on the X-Ray with obliteration of the costophrenic angles. If you were to examine this patient they might be in respiratory distress from reduced oxygen uptake (so have low sats, high resp rate, possible cyanosis and accessory muscle useage) - they may have reduced chest expansion on the affected side and it would be stony dull to percussion. Fluid transmits sound poorly so breath sounds would be decreased as would vocal resonance/fremitus. Someone with consolidation may have very similar clinical findings but the underlying area of lung is almost solid due to pus from the infective process - as sounds travel well through solids they would have increased vocal fremitus which is how you can clinically differentiate between the two conditions. Clinical examination and understanding of conditions is paramount to practice effective medicine. Before you recieved this X-Ray you should be able to diagnose the condition and use the X-Ray to confirm your suspicions.
http://www.handwrittentutorials.com - This is the first video in a series on reading and interpreting ECGs. This tutorial covers ECG lead placement and the first principles of reading an ECG. For more entirely FREE medical tutorials and their accompanying PDFs, visit http://www.handwrittentutorials.com
Metaphors and analogies have long been used to turn complex medical concepts into everyday ones, albeit with fancy terminology. Having been involved with many 3D animations on the topics of Blood Pressure, arteriosclerosis, cholesterol and the like, we find that often a metaphor goes a long way to building understanding, credibility and even compliance with patients. One of my favorite analogies is what we call the arterial highway. Much like their tarmacked counterparts, arteries act as conduits for all the parts that make your body go. A city typically uses highways, gas lines, water pipes, railways and other infrastructure to distribute important materials to its people. Your body is much the same, except that it does it all in one system, the cardiovascular system. This is used to deliver nutrients, extract waste, transport and deliver oxygen and even to maintain the temperature!
The arteries can do all these things because of their smart three-layered structure. Our arteries consist of a muscular tube lined by smooth tissue. They have three layers named – the Adventitia, Media and Intima. Each is designed with a specific function and through the magic of evolution has developed to perform its function perfectly.
The first is the Tunica Adventitia, or just adventitia. It is a strong outer covering over the arteries and veins. It has special tissues that are fibrous. The fibers let the arteries flex, expanding and contracting to accommodate changes in blood pressure as the blood flows past it. Unlike a steel pipe, arteries pulsate and so must be at once be flexible, and strong.
Tunica Media - the middle layer of the walls of arteries and veins is made up of a smooth muscle with some elasticity built in. This layer expands and contracts in a rhythmic fashion, much like a Wave at a baseball game, as blood moves along it.
The media layer is thicker in arteries than in veins, and importantly so, as arteries carry blood at a higher pressure than veins.
The innermost layer of arteries and veins is the Tunica Intima. In arteries, this layer is composed of an elastic lining and smooth endothelium - a thin sheet of cells that form a type of skin over the surface. The elastic tissue present in the artery can stretch and return, allowing the arteries to adapt to changes in flow and blood pressure. The intima is also a very smoothe, slick layer so that blood can easily flow past it.
Every layer of the artery has developed evolutionary traits that help your arterial system to maintain flexibility, strength and promote blood flow. Diseases and conditions like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, diabetes and others prevent the arteries from doing their function well by creating blockages or increasing the stress on one or more of the layers. For example, high blood pressure causes rips in the smooth lining of the Intima. Anybody who has experienced a pipe burst in a house knows that the damage can be extreme and can never fully be restored.
Understanding the delicate functions of the arterial structure gives good incentive to treat them better. Conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes create tears, holes, blockages, and can disrupt the functions of one or more layers. Getting patients to visualize the effect of bad eating habits on their anatomy helps to increase patient compliance. In modern society, the concept of highways goes hand in hand with the concept of traffic jams. Patients understand that the arterial highway is one that can never be jammed.
It's been a while since I've added any thoughts to this blog. In that time I have finished my Obs/Gynae placement, I have spent a week on labour ward, and done my first week of my 4th year surgical placement. All the while cramming in revision between various activities and general staying alive measures. This, I feel, is how most people who are sitting their final written exams are spending their time, so I don't feel so alone.
I just want to bring to the attention one amazing incident that happened on my labour ward week. I was on a night shift, there wasn't a lot going on. Absolutely everyone was knackered, the registrar who'd been on nights for the past week was just chatting to me. I have never seen someone look so tired. The emergency alarm went off and a lady had a cord prolapse, which is an obstetric emergency with a high foetal mortality rate. Now I think it's amazing that the doctor went from nearly falling asleep to switched on 'surgical-mode' in an instant, successfully performed the C-section, delivering the baby in about a minute, then went back to being absolutely knackered and let the SHO close up the wound.
It just really impressed me and I felt it was something worth sharing. Actually I was incredibly surprised that I enjoyed Obs/Gynae. Women's health was a placement I was dreading, it was my last major knowledge gap and I didn't have a clue what it was going to be like. If my tutor for the block does read this, thank you for all your help and getting me involved in everything. I would encourage other students who are going into it and feeling any level of apprehension to just throw yourselves into it and give 110% effort. It is a great placement for practicing transferable skills (this is important to remember, especially if you don't have any desire to go into it you CAN transfer and practice skills from elsewhere!) and getting heavily involved in patient care.
Also I'd like to point out the Mother and Baby were fine :)
This is an excerpt from "Wound Care Made Incredibly Easy! 1st UK Edition" by Julie Vuolo For more information, or to purchase your copy, visit: http://tiny.cc/woundcare. Save 15% (and get free P&P) on this, and a whole host of other LWW titles at http://lww.co.uk when you use the code MEDUCATION when you check out!
A burn is an acute wound caused by exposure to thermal extremes, electricity, caustic chemicals or radiation. The degree of tissue damage caused by a burn depends on the strength of the source and the duration of contact or exposure. Around 250,000 people per year sustain burn injuries in the UK (NBCRC 2001). Because of the specialist care burns require, they are considered here separately from other traumatic wounds.
Types of burns
Burns can be classified by cause or type. Knowing the type of burn will help you to plan the right care for your patient.
The most common type of burn, thermal burns can result from virtually any misuse or mishandling of fire, combustible products, hot fluids and fat or coming into contact with a hot object. Playing with matches, pouring petrol onto a BBQ, spilling hot coffee, touching hot hair straighteners and setting off fireworks are some common examples of ways in which burns occur. Thermal burns can also result from kitchen accidents, house or office fires, car accidents or physical abuse. Although it’s less common, exposure to extreme cold can also cause thermal burns.
Electrical burns result from contact with flowing electrical current. Household current, high-voltage transmission lines and lightning are sources of electrical burns. Internal injury is often considerably greater than is apparent externally.
Chemical burns most commonly result from contact (skin contact or inhalation) with a caustic agent, such as an acid, an alkali or a vesicant.
The most common radiation burn is sunburn, which follows excessive exposure to the sun. Almost all other burns due to radiation exposure occur as a result of radiation treatment or in specific industries that use or process radioactive materials.
Conduct your initial assessment as soon as possible after the burn occurs. First, assess the patient’s ABCs. Then determine the patient’s level of consciousness and mobility. Next, assess the burn, including its size, depth and complexity.
Determine burn size as part of your initial assessment. Typically, burn size is expressed as a percentage of total body surface area (TBSA). The Rule of Nines and the Lund–Browder Classification provide standardised and quick estimates of the percentage of TBSA affected.
To remember the proper sequence for the initial assessment of a burns patient, remember your ABCs and add D and E.
Airway – Assess the patient’s airway, remove any obstruction and treat any obstructive condition.
Breathing – Observe the motion of the patient’s chest. Auscultate the depth, rate and characteristics of the patient’s breathing.
Circulation – Palpate the patient’s pulse at the carotid artery and then at the distal pulse points in the wrist, posterior tibial area and foot. Loss of distal pulse may indicate shock or constriction of an extremity.
Disability – Assess the patient’s level of consciousness and ability to function before attempting to move or transfer them.
Expose – Remove burned clothing from burned areas of the patient’s body and thoroughly examine the skin beneath.
Today we look at renal function as requested on a blood test and the eGFR, which is now in vogue for measurement of a patient’s baseline renal function.
The NSF recommends that kidney function should be assessed and monitored using an eGFR, rather than serum creatinine concentration alone, in people identified as having an increased risk [...]
I was approached by Meducation to become a resident blogger, and was initially surprised by the invitation as - I must explain upfront - I am not a clinician of any type! I'm one of those project managers. So when considering where to begin to write my first blog post I decided to focus on the use of technology in medical education.
Then when I began writing my first post I was reminded of the complexities of such a topic! And I realised that this is not something that can be covered in one post.
So this is where I thought I would start:
Technology is changing our lives at an ever increasing rate, and it is influencing the way we do a range of tasks from the use of technology in the hospital to the use of technology in education, notwithstanding all other aspects of our lives and the way we communicate. We are educating children in schools at the moment who will have careers and jobs that don't even exist at the moment, the rate of change is exponential. But with this consistent churn of information, communication and technological developments, how do you keep up? Where do you start? As a teacher, as a learner.
I wanted to concentrate this post on considering some of the challenges which can be encountered when working in medical education. One of the pivotal issues is probably resistance. Resistance has a negative connotation and I use it cautiously. Resistance can be in many forms and can arise for a number of reasons.
Technology brings about change, and inherently change can make people nervous. And with change you often encounter resistance; resistance to change, resistance to adapt, resistance to engage - the fear of the unknown. With an ever evolving world, where technology is infiltrating the way we live, work and learn, it is natural that this will influence the way we deliver education, including medical education.
Technology is so fast moving it can considerable time to become familiar with new mediums of developing educational resources, by which time often new iterations and new technologies have arrived.
However, for those providing subject matter expertise for educational resources it is essential that they under the medium through this will be delivered. And for learners, which we all are, it is important to understand how you learn and how technology can help you do this.
With the changes to the NHS and developments in education technology do people find some comfort in being able to both deliver and receive education in a traditional manner?
This poses a unique and very interesting challenge to answer for those involved in medical education, in trying to meet the demands of those seeking information and education in new and interesting ways with those who enjoy traditional classroom based education - all from both the point of view of the 'teacher' and the 'learner'.
How to we satisfy the appetite of those seeking cutting edge education with the demand for traditional classroom learning? Is it possible to meet the needs of all?
Previously I blogged about the 'stigma' and discrimination often faced by those confronting mental illness - even by colleagues. It was incredibly apt, therefore, that just a week later, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) published their "Parity" report.
The report entitled Whole Person Care: from rhetoric to reality calls for an equality in physical vs mental health. As with many of my colleagues, I saw the word "Whole Person Care" and was instantly guilty of a pre-formed stereotype. I don't like the term whole person care nor holistic medicine. I hear these terms and my thoughts instantly switch to bright colours, 60s attire and I start humming "this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius". More so, this topic becomes riddled with questionable pseuodoscience and tentative nods to evidence-less forms of complimentary medicine. I think such terms are perhaps self destructive and instantly mark out mental health as odd. Ambiguous terms such as this make the whole topic even more off putting.
Holistic rants aside, this report is an exceptionally important read (or at least glance) for all future doctors. There is an unquestionable inequality in mental and physical health in this country. It seems that if we can't 'see' something, it's not quantifiable and therefore loses a position of importance. It leads us to have 'pathological priorities', putting the physical before the mental. Despite this, both influence one another and deserve equal importance.
Some of the key points of the report are:
A call for equal funding of Mental and Physical Health Services
A call to reduce discrimination and stigmas associated with Mental Health
A call for equal care and treatment of Mental health/Physical Health
A call for management and leaders (such as commissioning boards)to acknowledge the equality of mental/physical health
Perhaps the most important for myself as I read through this was a call for equal access to Mental Health treatments under NICE clinical guidelines. Currently, patients have the right to receive only mental health treatments which have undergone NICE technology appraisals - not those offered by clinical guidelines. For example, NICE Clinical Guidelines state talk therapies are more effective than instant antidepressants for treatment of mild depression.
The report is a huge step toward equality in mental and physical health. Perhaps we should all just take a moment to address the importance of both.
You can read the full report and a summary on the RCPsych website here:
The biopsychosocial model of disease existed in my notes... an excuse to get out the colouring crayons and draw a diagram, but ultimately another collection of facts that needed to be digested then regurgitated in the summer exams, something to be fitted in around learning about the important stuff - the science.
But the biopsychosocial model has come alive for me recently, now I realise what an impact the later two components, psychological and social, can have on patients. As a former medical student and now full time patient, the model really means something to me now.
In the 1977 paper in Science, George Engel introduced the biopsychosocial model:
"The dominant model of disease today is biomedical, and it leaves no room within it's framework for the social, psychological and behavioural dimensions of illness. A biopsychosocial model is proposed that provides a blueprint for research, a framework for teaching and a design for action in the real world of health care."
Following some conversations on Twitter recently and from my own experience at medical school and now as a patient, I wanted to explore my thoughts on this model.
Twitter, in the wonderful way it does, recently introduced me to the Disabled Medic blog, which among many other great posts, has also explored the biopsychosocial model, and I would recommend a read.
The biopsychosocial model shows the influence that emotions and social circumstances have on physical health, which is important. But while conversations about the model focus on the way it can be used by healthcare professionals (very important!), it needs emphasising that the model can provide a framework for patients to look at/after themselves. The model highlights the psychological and social causes of disease, but more optimistically, it can show that there are a range of treatments for disease, from the medical to the social and psychological. A diagnosis of a long-term health conditions is often simultaneous with loss of control. There are limitations to the success of medications, treatments and surgeries. And in receiving these, we are relatively passive as patients, no matter how engaged we are. The biopsychosocial model looks at our biological, psychological and social needs, and how these factors influence our overall health. Establishing that these factors affect our health is only the first step. As patients, when psychological and social factors are brought in to the equation, it becomes clear that we ourselves have some power to help ourselves. By framing our health in this more holistic way, as patients we are not as powerless as suggested by the medical model. Through self-management we can make positive changes to our own psychological and social situations, which can in turn benefit our physical biological health.
To return to the traditional ground of the model - healthcare professionals....
One strength of the model is that it places psychology side beside its (generally considered) more superior counter-part, biology. I hope that by seeing the biopsychosocial model in action, physicians can appreciate the detrimental psychological impact of a diagnosis, and the assumption of "it is all in the mind" can fall by the way side. By integrating all three elements, the model shows that neither is independent of the others, so it can't be all in the mind, because other factors, biological or social, will be involved to some degree.
For me personally, the biopsychosocial model makes me look at what a 'life' is. One of the attractions of medicine is saving lives. Without getting too deeply into philosophy or ethics, I just want to explore for a second what saving a life really means for me, as a patient. I still believe that A&E staff heroically save lives. But I have come to realise that a life is more than a swiggly line on a heart rate monitor. My counsellor has been just as heroic in saving my life, through addressing my emotions. My life is now something I can live, rather than endure. With saving lives being a key (and honourable) motivation among medical staff, it is important that we can allow them to save lives as often as possible, and in many different ways. It may not always be through emergency treatment in resuscitation, but if we embrace the biopsychosical model, they can save lives in many more ways.
When there is a limit to the effectiveness of the biological approaches to an ill person, and they can't be returned to the land of the healthy, medical science becomes unstuck. Within the biopsychosocial model, the issue of doctors not being able to do anything is slightly less. As I mentioned in my post about making the transition from medical student to patient, I went to medical school because I wanted to make people better. But I was only being taught one way to make people better - drugs and surgery. If we really embraces the biopsychosocial model, doctors could make a difference, even if their standard tools of drugs aren't available because they could turn to psychological and social support. This isn't to say that all clinicians have to be counsellors or social workers - far from it. But an awareness and appreciation of their contribution to the management of a patient is important, as well as an understanding of the basic principles and skills such as motivational interviewing.
In 2013, I don't think I can talk about social in this context without mentioning social media. It was not was Engel originally meant in 1977, but social media has become a vital social tool for patients to manage their health. Ignoring anxieties and postural problems associated with sitting at a screen seeing everyone else's photo-shopped lives, it is undeniable that social media is a big and good resource that can empower patients to take responsibility and manage their own health. To see the best examples in action, take a look at Michael Seres and his blog, Being a Patient Isn't Easy to see a whole new meaning to the social in biopsychosocial!
I am still very grateful for the biological expertise of my medical team. Don't get me wrong - it's a good place to start and I wouldn't be here writing this post today if it wasn't for the biological support. But with chronic illness, when you are past the dramatic relapses, the biological isn't enough....
The biology has allowed me to live, but its the psychological and social support I have received that has allowed me to live.
Anya de Iongh