You are called to the bedside by nursing for an elderly patient with the chief complaint of “my insides fell out.” On closer examination, you discover that the patient has suffered from a rectal prolapse. You attempt manual reduction, but have little success. Now what? Check out the latest video by Dr. Whit Fisher to learn what to do.
Authors: Drs. Paul Cohen and Shihab Ali
A healthy 21-year-old female presents to the ED following a motor vehicle crash. She was the restrained passenger in a head-on collision at approximately 30 mph. Her only complaint is left knee pain. On exam, her left knee is tender over the anterior aspect with moderate swelling and ecchymosis. Her ligamentous exam is limited by pain, but there is no gross laxity. Neurovascular exam is normal, and the remainder of her trauma survey is unremarkable. Plain films are obtained:
What are the pertinent radiographic findings?
Lipohemarthrosis is a layering of fat and blood that is indicative of an intra-articular fracture. Blood and fat from bone marrow escape into the joint space and layer on a horizontal cross-table view because they are different densities. Close inspection also reveals a subtle depression of the lateral tibial condyle consistent with a tibial plateau fracture.
The diagnosis of a minimally depressed lateral tibial plateau fracture (type III) was made. The patient was evaluated by orthopedics in the ED and discharged home in a knee immobilizer with orthopedic follow-up in 2 days.
An active, independent 72-year-old female presents with left leg pain after a mechanical fall at home. She fell down multiple stairs onto a wooden floor. Her exam is notable for swelling and tenderness of the left knee with a normal neurovascular exam. An AP radiograph of the knee is shown below.
What is the diagnosis? How should this injury be managed?
A minimally displaced lateral split tibial plateau fracture is depicted on radiographs. This injury is classified as a Schatzker type I fracture and is amenable to nonoperative treatment.
Orthopedic surgery was consulted. The patient was placed in a knee immobilizer and admitted. Given the minimal displacement of the fracture, she was managed nonoperatively. No weight-bearing was recommended and she was discharged to a skilled nursing facility with orthopedic follow-up in one week.
Overview of Tibial Plateau Fractures:
- Most common mechanism = axial loading
- Bimodal distribution:
o Young adults → high-energy trauma (MVC, fall from height)
o Elderly → low-energy compression force to osteoporotic bone
- Majority involve lateral tibial plateau
- Popliteal artery injury (artery is tethered both proximally and distally at the knee) → any intra-articular disruption can cause vascular injury
- Displacement of the lateral tibial condyle can cause peroneal nerve injury → assess for foot drop!
- Concomitant soft tissue injuries are common (e.g., ligaments, meniscus)
o Ligamentous injury occurs in up to 66% of patients → accurate exam limited on initial presentation due to pain, so follow-up examinations are essential
- High risk for compartment syndrome!
- AP and lateral radiographs for initial imaging
o Lipohemarthrosis suggests occult fracture in the appropriate clinical setting
- CT is useful for:
o Diagnosing occult fracture not evident on plain radiographs
o Improved characterization of fractures
o Identification of articular depression which may alter management in up to 25% of cases
o Operative planning
- MRI shows concomitant soft tissue injury but is rarely indicated in the ED
- Ice and elevate!
- Schatzker IV injuries are associated with high risk of popliteal injury → consider ABIs and/or vascular imaging (i.e. CTA)
- Nonoperative management with a hinged knee brace and protected weight bearing is indicated for:
o Minimally displaced split or depressed fractures
o Nonambulatory patients
- Surgical management is common for tibial plateau fractures, especially:
o Segment depression > 5mm
o Condylar widening > 6mm
o Schatzker type ≥ IV
- Orthopedic consultation is recommended
Take Home Points:
- Tibial plateau fractures are often complex injuries with associated ligament and meniscal disruption
- Clinical suspicion for occult tibial plateau fracture (i.e., mechanism, age, effusion) warrants CT imaging in the ED
- Maintain vigilance for neurovascular injury and recognize risk for compartment syndrome
- Patients with minimally displaced split or depressed fractures can often be discharged in a knee immobilizer as long with close orthopedic follow up assuming adherence to strict non-weight-bearing and adequate pain control
- More complex fractures often require admission for operative management
- Consult orthopedics
Faculty Reviewer: Jeffrey P. Feden, M.D.
1. Chan PS, et al. Impact of CT scan on treatment plan and fracture classification of tibial plateau fractures. J Orthop Trauma 1997;11:484–489.
2. Egol KA, Tejwani NC, Capla EL, Wolinsky PL, Koval KJ. Staged management of high-energy proximal tibia fractures (OTA types 41): the results of a prospective, standardized protocol. J Orthop Trauma 2005;19:448–455.
3. Schatzker J, McBroom R, Bruce D. The tibial plateau fracture: the Toronto experience 1968-1975. Clinical Orthop Relat Res 1979;138:84-104.
4. Gentili, Amilcare. Tibial Plateau Fracture Imaging. Emedicine [Internet]. Available from: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/396920-overview. Accessed 23 March 2017.
5. Karadsheh M. Tibial Plateau Fractures. Orthobullets [Internet]. Available from: http://www.orthobullets.com/trauma/1044/tibial-plateau-fractures. Accessed 20 April 2017.
6. Pallin, Daniel J. Tibial Plateau Fractures, Knee and Lower Leg, Chapter 57. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2014. 698-722 p.
7. Thomas Ch, Athanasiov A, Wullschleger M, Schuetz M. Current concepts in tibial plateau fractures. Acta Chir Orthop Traumatol Cech. 2009;76(5):363-73.
8. Tscherne H, Lobenhoffer P. Tibial plateau fractures. Management and expected results. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1993;292:87-100.
WELCOME BACK TO ANOTHER CLINICAL IMAGE FROM THE CASE FILES OF THE BROWN EM RESIDENCY!
HPI/ROS: 49-year-old female with a history of hypothyroidism and asthma presents to the ED with right eye swelling and pain. She reports that four days ago she initially developed a severe right-sided headache, which progressed to right eye swelling, redness and pain with movement. She was seen at an urgent care center and diagnosed with conjunctivitis and treated with topical antibiotics[am1] . Today, she awoke with a new rash on her scalp as well as chills, nausea, and watery discharge from the eye. She denies visual changes or fevers.
Vital Signs: T: 98.6, HR: 91, BP: 123/73, R: 16, SpO2: 99% on room air
Visual Acuity: R 20/25 L 20/25
Physical Examination: The patient is alert and oriented. Normocephalic, atraumatic head. Tympanic membranes are clear. Oropharnyx clear and moist. Cranial nerves II-XII are intact. Pupils are 4 mm and reactive bilaterally. Extra-ocular movements are intact. Peripheral vision is intact. Patient accommodates appropriately. Neck is supple. Lungs are clear to auscultation. Heart is regular rate and rhythm without murmurs, rubs, or gallops. Abdomen is soft, non-tender, non-distended. A rash is appreciated above the right eye with some associated mild peri-orbital swelling (see image 1). There is conjunctival injection. Slit lamp examination is performed as well (see image 2). No other pertinent exam findings.
What’s the diagnosis?
Here are some quick facts:
- Herpetic Zoster Ophthalmicus (HZO) is a vision threatening condition secondary to Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) reactivation, “shingles”, within the trigeminal ganglion, specifically the first division (V1).
- Up to one-half of all patients with VZV V1 reactivation experience direct ocular involvement.
- Typical prodromal symptoms include headache, malaise, fever, pain and photophobia in the affected eye and surrounding dermatome.
- Upon eruption of vesicular lesions within the trigeminal dermatome, patients will likely experience hyperemic conjunctivitis, blurred vision, and/or lid droop. The rash typically does not cross the midline.
- Two thirds of patients will develop corneal involvement (keratitis), which can either manifest as punctate (our patient) or dendritic lesions on slit lamp examination.
- The anterior chamber can show cells and flare if deeper structures are affected (iritis).
- Lesions on the nose are fairly specific for HZO due to involvement of the nasociliary branch of the trigmeninal nerve, which also innervates the eye.
- Early diagnosis is critical and management involves oral anti-retrovirals and adjunctive topical steroid drops to reduce the inflammatory response. Associated conjunctivitis can be treated with topical erythromycin ointment. Pain reduction can be achieved with topical cycloplegic agents.
- If the patient is immunocompromised or systemically ill, consider admission with IV acyclovir.
- Prompt ophthalmological follow up is warranted as well.
This patient was discharged home on oral acyclovir and topical steroid drops. She had follow up with ophthalmology the following day.
Dr. Alyson McGregor
Albrecht, Mary. Clinical Manifestations of Varicella-Zoster Virus Infection: Herpes Zoster. UptoDate. 2017.
Tintinalli, et. al. Emergency Medicine. 8th Edition. 2016. 1061-1062.
The contents of this case were deliberately altered to protect the identity of the patient. All content in this report are for educational purposes only. The patient consented to the use of these images.