Is It the pH That Matters? Challenging the Pathophysiology of Acidemia in a Case of Severe Hypercapnia Secondary to Intraoperative CO2 InsufflationRead the full article
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Recurrent Pneumothorax in a Critically Ill Ventilated COVID-19 Patient
We present this case of a young woman with SARS-CoV-2 viral infection resulting in coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) lung disease complicated by a complex hydropneumothorax, recurrent pneumothorax, and pneumatoceles. A 33-year-old woman presented to the hospital with a one-week history of cough, shortness of breath, and myalgia, with no other significant past medical history. She tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently, her respiratory function rapidly deteriorated, necessitating endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. She had severe hypoxic respiratory failure requiring a protracted period on the mechanical ventilator with different ventilation strategies and multiple cycles of prone positioning. During her proning, after two weeks on the intensive care unit, she developed tension pneumothorax that required bilateral intercostal chest drains (ICD) to stabilise her. After 24 days, she had a percutaneous tracheostomy and began her respiratory wean; however, this was limited due to the ongoing infection. Thorax CT demonstrated a left-sided pneumothorax, with bilateral pneumatoceles and a sizeable, complex hydropneumothorax. Despite the insertion of ICDs, the hydropneumothorax persisted over months and initially progressed in size on serial scans needing multiple ICDs. She was too ill for surgical interventions initially, opting for conservative management. After 60 days, she successfully underwent a video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for a washout and placement of further ICDs. She was successfully decannulated after 109 days on the intensive care unit and was discharged to a rehabilitation unit after 116 days of being an inpatient, with her last thorax CT showing some residual pneumatoceles but significant improvement. Late changes may mean patients recovering from the COVID-19 infection are at increased risk of pneumothoracies. Clinicians need to be alert to this, especially as bullous rupture may not present as a classical pneumothorax.
When a Dead Patient Is Not Really Dead: Lazarus Phenomenon
Lazarus phenomenon refers to autoresuscitation of a patient declared dead after cessation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The Lazarus phenomenon is rarely encountered and pathophysiology is not very well understood, but physicians need to be aware of this phenomenon. It is prudent that a physician leading a CPR effort waits for some time and monitors the patient further using blood pressure and electrocardiogram before confirming that a patient is actually dead.
Acute Splenic Artery Thrombosis and Infarction Associated with COVID-19 Disease
Coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) is a viral illness caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has caused a widespread global pandemic. The symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from mild upper respiratory symptoms to severe pneumonia with hypoxemic respiratory failure. Multiple studies and reports have reported a hypercoagulable state associated with this disease, and various recommendations have emerged to guide the use of anticoagulants for prophylaxis. We are reporting a case of symptomatic acute splenic thrombosis causing splenic infarction in a patient suffering from a severe case of COVID-19 and despite the use of an intermediate dose of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH). The patient was treated with full-dose anticoagulation and was eventually discharged home on a direct oral anticoagulant.
The Role of Therapeutic Anticoagulation in COVID-19
Coagulopathy has proven to be a common complication of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, with evidence of elevated D-dimers and fibrin degradation products associated with an increased incidence of thromboembolism. Despite emerging evidence describing the coagulopathy and its clinical relevance in COVID-19, fewer studies have addressed the potential role of empiric therapeutic anticoagulation in this setting. We report the case of a patient admitted to our intensive care unit (ICU) with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) secondary to COVID-19 whose clinical trajectory improved dramatically after initiation of a therapeutic dose of LMWH. The patient showed progressive elevation of fibrinogen and D-dimers despite a prophylactic dose of LMWH during her ICU stay. This was met with a moderate increase of troponin T-hs, an escalating need for vasopressors, and a progressive decrease in her P/F ratio despite preserved lung static compliance. Her platelet count was normal and had an elevated fibrinogen during the first week of ICU stay. The ECG was normal, and a bedside transthoracic echocardiogram showed no evidence of pulmonary embolism and a preserved EF with no regional wall motion abnormalities (RMWA). The chest X-ray was not dissimilar to previous exams, and the ABG showed hypoxia with normal pCO2 values. The decision was made to commence empiric therapeutic enoxaparin. The patient did not experience bleeding complications, and her clinical trajectory appeared to change dramatically. She was successfully extubated three days later and proceeded to clinical recovery and eventual discharge from the ICU. The available evidence shows that there is undoubtedly coagulopathy associated with COVID-19 with various subsequent forms of clinical manifestation described in the literature. Evidence also shows the benefits of heparin as an anticoagulant. From the discussion of this case report, however, it can be concluded that despite the plausible theoretical rationale, studies pertaining to the role of empiric therapeutic anticoagulation in this setting fall short of providing compelling evidence. Subsequently the role of empiric therapeutic anticoagulation in COVID-19 remains unclear with a pressing call for further research.
ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction in the Presence of Septic Shock
Elevated cardiac enzymes are often seen in the setting of sepsis. The mechanism involves hypoperfusion and possible compromise to myocardial tissue. Electrocardiogram (ECG) changes in the setting of septic shock are less common and can vary widely. Rarely, ST-segment elevations can occur. This case describes a 54-year-old female who presented with septic shock secondary to pyelonephritis and Escherichia coli bacteremia. The patient was admitted to the intensive care unit on norepinephrine and required mechanical ventilation. A significant rise in troponin I (peak 19.8 ng/mL) was seen and ECG showed ST-segment elevations in leads I and aVL with reciprocal ST depressions in leads II, III, and aVF. The patient was taken urgently for left cardiac catheterization, which showed no evidence of obstructive coronary artery disease. When distinguishing between septic shock and cardiogenic shock, insertion of a pulmonary artery catheter may help with diagnosis and treatment of cardiogenic shock. Catheter hemodynamic monitoring can also confirm the diagnosis. In our patient’s case, hemodynamic monitoring was initiated and was not consistent with cardiogenic shock. ST-segment elevations in the high lateral leads and elevated cardiac markers were likely due to severe transmural ischemia secondary to increased oxygen demand. The patient was continued on intravenous antibiotics for treatment of her septic shock. She was extubated and weaned off of norepinephrine within 48 hours. Repeat ECG performed after resolution of the infection showed normal sinus rhythm with no ST-segment changes. Cardiac dysfunction in the setting of septic shock is well described in medical literature; however, the mechanisms of dysfunction are not explicitly understood. Transient hypoperfusion, coronary vasospasm, and localized endothelial damage are possible components. It is important to think of varying etiologies, other than acute coronary syndrome when approaching patients in septic shock with acute ST-segment changes and elevated cardiac markers.
Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Management of Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in a Patient with Fulminant Myocarditis
A 68-year-old male with a witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest while jogging who was managed with extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) is presented. The patient was found to be in refractory ventricular fibrillation by emergency medical service personnel and underwent advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) protocol with placement of an automated chest compression device. He was emergently transported to the cardiac catheterization laboratory. Due to refractory ventricular fibrillation, he was placed on venoarterial extracorporeal membranous oxygenation (VA-ECMO). Coronary angiography at that time showed nonobstructive coronary artery disease. Management with VA-ECMO and other supportive measures were continued for 5 days, after which a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was performed with findings consistent with acute myocarditis. His condition substantially improved, and he was discharged from the hospital with good neurologic and functional status. Fulminant myocarditis is often fatal, but aggressive supportive measures with novel ECPR protocols may result in recovery, as it happened in this case.