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May 2018 Critical Care Case of the Month

Lacey Gagnon APRN, CNP
Theo Loftsgard APRN, CNP

Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care

Mayo Clinic Minnesota

Rochester, MN USA


Chief Complaint

Shortness of breath

History of Present Illness

The patient is a 44-year-old woman who was admitted with a history of “pericarditis”. She has a several years history of progressive shortness of breath, abdominal distention and lower extremity edema.

Past Medical History, Social History and Family History

She has a history of obesity, poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, uterine fibroids and hypertension. She does not smoke but does have 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day. Family history is noncontributory.

Physical Examination

  • Vital signs: pulse 96 beats/min, blood pressure 110/85 mm Hg, temperature 37° C, respirations 18 breaths/min.
  • Neck: there is jugular venous distention with a positive hepatojugular reflux.
  • Lungs: rales at both bases.
  • Heart: regular rhythm without murmur.
  • Abdomen: Distended. Shifting dullness is present.
  • Extremities: 2-3 pretibial pitting edema.

Chest Radiography

Chest x-ray shows a small right pleural effusion with mild vascular congestion at the bases. Heart size is normal.

Which of the following should be performed?

  1. Abdominal CT scan
  2. Echocardiography
  3. Thoracic CT scan
  4. 1 and 3
  5. All of the above

Cite as: Gagnon L, Loftsgard T. May 2018 critical care case of the month. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2018;16(5):245-51. doi: PDF 

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