September 2017

Author: Dave McCreary / Codes: C3AP7, CAP38, HAP33, CC3, GP9, SLO1, SLO10, SLO2, SLO3, SLO4, SLO6, SLO9, TC5, TP10, UC7 / Published: 01/09/2017


The content you’re about to read or listen to is at least two years old, which means evidence and guidelines may have changed since it was originally published. This content item won’t be edited but there will be a newer version published if warranted. Check the new publications and curriculum map for updates

Andy talks with Simon and Iain about the St Emlyn’s induction podcast series, and then gets some of their thoughts on being a good training supervisor and EM life in general.  If you’re new to emergency medicine, or supervise people who are I would highly recommend checking out the podcasts and consider using them as a ‘learning prescription’ after your next shop-floor teaching.

Useful Links:

St. Emlyns Website

The induction podcast series

Authors: Andy Tagg, Consultant Paeds EM and Retrieval, Melbourne

This month our new in EM section is a bit different. I (Andy) had the pleasure in taking part in a podcast at SMACC in Berlin. This is from Casey and Justin’s regular journal review podcast. They cover some great stuff and it’s really worth subscribing.

The Paper

  • Patel A, Nouraei SA. Transnasal Humidified Rapid-Insufflation Ventilatory Exchange (THRIVE): a physiological method of increasing apnoea time in patients with difficult airways. Anaesthesia. 2015 Mar;70(3):323-9. Doi: 10.1111/anae.12923. Epub 2014 Nov 10. PubMed PMID: 25388828

Andy interviews Jon Jones (@ukemtrauma) to discuss his thoughts on the NICE trauma imaging guidelines.  Who should be pan-scanned, the role of a scannogram, the utility (or lack of) chest and pelvic plain films and MRIs as first line imaging for ?scaphoid fractures are all discussed.

Beccy Maxwell and Chris Connolly continue their expedition through the BTS guidelines for the use of oxygen.  Considering we use this drug so frequently and so casually its remarkable how we all seem to learn something new in this section every month.  You need to increase the flow through venturi masks in patients with tachypnoea and nasal cannulae work for mouth breathers…who knew?!

Cylinders:  Now this is a favourite of anaesthetic exams and I can see how and where it would creep into our exams.  It’s easy to ask about and there’s some definite right and wrong answers.
There’s a list of sizes and litres in the guideline it would be worth having a look at this and committing it to memory.  Even if just for exam purposes!!

Authors: Pik Mukherji, EM Attending, New York

This month our new in EM section is a bit different. I (Andy) had the pleasure in taking part in a podcast at SMACC in Berlin. This is from Casey and Justin’s regular journal review podcast. They cover some great stuff and it’s really worth subscribing.

The Paper

  • Egerton-Warburton D, Meek R, Mee MJ, Braitberg G. Antiemetic use for nausea and vomiting in adult emergency department patients: randomized controlled trial  comparing ondansetron, metoclopramide, and placebo. Ann Emerg Med. 2014 Nov;64(5):526-532.e1. PMID: 24818542.

BroomeDocs (Casey)

First 10 EM (Justin)

Rosa and Andy continue to get us all in line with our emergency care of the elderly.  This month they’re talking urinary infections and we learn definitely not to use ‘acopia’ in front of Rosa…

Andy caught up with Chris Walsh (the head of eLearning at RCEM and largely the reason all of this content happens) at the last CPD conference to talk about his thoughts on FOAMed and integrating it into  formal medical education in line with a curriculum….can it be done? If anyone would know it would be Chris having just completed his MSc dissertation on FOAMed.

Author: Andy Neill, EM Trainee, Ireland

What is tetanus?

  • neonates in developing world are massively at risk
  • 30 or so cases a year in UK (of note in the green book there hasn’t been a reported death recently)
  • in the UK think
    • IDU (as well as botulism and anthrax…)
    • the elderly
  • a notifiable disease – one of the statutory reasons we can break confidentiality remember
  • clostrium tetani is the organism
    • gram +ve
    • lives in spores
    • these germinate in anerobic conditions
  • tetanospasmin is the exotoxin that causes all the issues by blocking inhibitory neurones in CNS
  • incubation 4-14 days (but can be prolonged)
  • 20% without wound apparently

How does it present?

  • masseter spasm – trismus, “lock jaw”
  • spreads to involve all facial and neck muscles
  • forced extension of the back (the opisthotonus seen here)
  • autonomic dysfunction and instability (similar to GBS I imagine)
  • some of this could look like dystonia but dystonia from meds gets better with procyclidine and tetanus doesn’t

How do you manage it?

  • benzos for the spasms
  • tube when they need it
  • specific treatment
    • penicillin
    • metronidazole
    • immunoglobulin (5000–10,000IU by IV infusion, though see notes from Public Health England below)

What about vaccination?

(The Green Book)

  • only began nationally in the UK in 1961 so if your patient was born before that then they likely never had a complete course and the booster we give them might be the first tetanus they’ve ever had.
  • the tetanus vaccines we give are all combined with some other tracking nanobots vaccines. Pertussis might be the most useful of these I expect given its prevalence and the waning vaccine effect
  • these vaccines do not contain a live organism and cannot cause the disease
  • “In most circumstances, a total of five doses of vaccine at the appropriate
  • intervals are considered to give satisfactory long-term protection. “
  • they also note that immunosuppression in people who have had the full course may invalidate it
  • “individuals born before 1961 who may not have been immunised in infancy, a full course of immunisation is likely to be required. “
  • so for adults born before 1961 who need a full course the PHE recs are
    • 0 months
    • 1 month
    • 2 months
    • 10 years following the initial course for 1st booster
    • 10 years following the 1st booster for the 2nd booster

What is a tetanus prone wound?

  • wounds or burns needing surgery where this is delayed more than 6 hrs
  • devitalised tissue or punctures especially with soil or manure
  • wounds with FBs
  • open fractures
  • wounds or burns in patients with sepsis

When should we give immunoglobulin?

  • the green book says this

If the wound, burn or injury fulfils the above criteria and is considered to be high risk, human tetanus immunoglobulin should be given for immediate protection, irrespective of the tetanus immunisation history of the patient. This is a precautionary recommendation since there is insufficient current evidence to support other alternatives. High risk is regarded as heavy contamination with material likely to contain tetanus spores and/or extensive devitalised tissue.

  • so there is an undoubted subjective element here with it being tetanus prone and “high risk”
  • the vaccine is given in this scenario as well – not because it provides protection for this potential episode but for the future one
  • dosing for tetanus prone wounds
    • 250IU IM (not around the wound, that’s rabies) for most
    • 500IU IM for those >24 hrs old
    • interestingly PHE says if this can’t be sourced you can use normal human immunoglobulin (subgam)
    • (I suppose this is similar in a way that people use FFP to get the C1 esterase in hereditary angioedema)
  • also we give this if someone actually has tetanus
    • 5000–10,000IU tetanus immunoglobulin by IV infusion
    • again PHE has emphasised a real shortage of this and that for now we should be using IV Normal human immunoglobulin (Vigam)
    • For individuals less than 50 kg, 5,000 IU or 250mls intravenous HNIG (Vigam)
    • For individuals over 50 kg, 10,000IU or 500mls intravenous HNIG (Vigam)

Authors: Justin Morgenstern, EM Attending, Toronto

This month our new in EM section is a bit different. I (Andy) had the pleasure in taking part in a podcast at SMACC in Berlin. This is from Casey and Justin’s regular journal review podcast. They cover some great stuff and it’s really worth subscribing.

The Papers

  • Roberge R et al. Termination of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia by digital rectal massage. Annals of emergency medicine. 1987; 16(11):1291-3.
  • Lieberman ME. Ventricular tachycardia as a complication of digital rectal massage. Annals of emergency medicine. 1988; 17(8):872. PMID:3395001
  • Fesmire FM. Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage. Annals of emergency medicine. 1988; 17(8):872. PMID:3395000
  • Odeh M, Bassan H, Oliven A. Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage.  Journal of internal medicine. 1990; 227(2):145-6. PMID: 2299306  


  1. iqbalj says:

    Chris Walsh terribly good

  2. Shobha James says:

    Excellent information.I recollect a patient I saw in King Saud Medical City,Riyadh.This pt was isolated as meningitis due to neck stiffness ,I saw pt. in the isolation room and found to generalised muscle stiffness including trismus;unlike meningitis pt denied headache and had clear sensorium.The paramedics told me ,the pt. was like a stick when they were transferring to trolley.He had some scratch marks on his leg.It was tetanus.

  3. hamdelneela9486 says:

    excellent podcast

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