why this blog?

Likelihood Ratio (LR) in Emergency Medicine


Ottawa ankle rules. 
Does it really work?

Clinical Scenario

A 16 yo guy is brought in ED by his mother after a scholar accident.
While he was running, he crashed. 
My son has a sore ankle!  Is it broken? Asks the mother seriously worried.  
The ankle his slightly tumefied, there isn’t bone tenderness at the posterior edge or tips of either malleolus, neither there is pain during the pressure of the navicular bone or the base of the fifth metatarsal. 
Are you able to take 4 steps? - asks the doctor.


If correctly performed (see the video) the Ottawa ankle rules have been shown to have high sensitivity, so if there is not an high pretest probability it rules out a fracture without any further test.
Their use leads to reduction of radiography, costs, and waiting time. 


LM Bachmann
Systematic review.
BMJ vol 326 22 feb 2003

IG Stiell 
JAMA 1993 3 March vol 269 n9

Ciro Paolillo e Ilenia Spallino


Does every shoulder pain means magnetic risonance?

Clinical Scenario

A 35 y/o male come to the ED because of pain in his right shoulder, he refers the pain started some month ago during a tennis match, the pain continued but it wasn't so high so he kept playing in the last months, now it is worse. "My tennis mate told me I should perform a magnetic resonance, because it might be a rotator cuff disease" (RCD).
You listen to the patient but decide first to act as a physician and make the old and fascinating physical examination...
What you find is a normal movement of the shoulder, no pain in abducting the arm (arch test), no weakness or pain in internal and external rotation. (see video)

And so what?



Alarm symptoms and gastric cancer. Are they alarms or they are alarming?

Clinical Scenario

It’s a busy Monday morning in ED. 
A doctor at the phone – calls the nurse – there’s a primary care physician. 
Hi – says a voice on the other side –  I’m in a patient’s home. 
He’s a 40 yo man with dyspepsia, his wife refers weight loss of about 10 Kg in the last three months. He is pale, but not tachicardic, abdomen is treatable, on rectal examination I find normal stool. 

I’m warried he probably has a gastric cancer, Is it possible to schedule an urgent gastroscopy for this morning?



Age of 45 and dyspepsia.

Clinical Scenario

It’s the begining of another night shift in ED. Rik, an agreable young colleague approximates: Hi- he says – I have just seen a 60 y/o man who refers epigastric pain since 2 days. He denies bleeding and weight loss, he isn’t anemic. The bedside US shows a normal gallbladder and a normal abdominal aorta, ECG is OK. It seems an uncomplicated dyspepsia, but he is a 60y/o, I’m worried about a grastric cancer. 



Clinical diagnosis of gastric ulcer. 
Does your gastroenerologist perform better?

Clinical Scenario

A 35 yo smokerman presents at morning to the ED. He refers epigastric pain since seven days. The pain worses after eating, he refers nausea without vomit and he denies melena and weight loss.
Palpation causes pain in epigastric region, there’s not fever, nor tachicardia, hemoglobin is 13 g/dL.  
Bedside US evidences a normal gallblader.  

Take antiacid said my doctor and don’t smoke – he says – I’m worried, Is it an ulcer? I wish to consult a gastroenterologist.



Plain X ray in suspected bowel obstruction. Is that all?

Clinical Scenario

A 67 y/o woman arrives in the ED at 5pm because of diffused abdominal pain since 2 hours. She has nausea and she refers costipation from the day before. 
She has a history of hysterectomy 5 years before because of fibroma.
Vital signs are normal, she presents pale and sufferer for pain, the abdomen is distendend and palpation cause pain all over it. 
Bowel movements are present but abnormal. 
Plain x ray shows 2 little fluid levels without the evidence of dilated loops of bowel, so radiologist describe it as negative.

Has plain x ray changed your previous clinical judgment about the suspect of bowel obstruction?



Sick or not-sick at a glance. Is it reliable?

Clinical scenario

It’s a busy Monday morning in ED, many ambulance are on the go. There’s been a car crash on the high street - says the nurse – we must free the rooms immediately.    There is a full flow now. In a box there is a young man, the doctor observes the patient form the outside, the computer says “dyspepsia and fever”. Blood pressure, temperature, oxygen saturation, heart rate and respiratory rate are normal.
After few seconds of observing, the doctor ask the nurse to invite the patient to leave the room for the arrival of a newer patients. I think he isn’t sick, he can wait - he says.
 In the last room there is an old man just transported from an assisted-living facility because of dyspnoea, fever and cough. Respiratory rates are about 25. A rapid look than the doctor orders for a rapid admission in a non intensive care unit.

How reliable is the first look?