Friday, June 13, 2014

PE self-test

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a dangerous, potentially lethal medical condition that is notoriously variable in its clinical presentation, hence is difficult to diagnose without performing invasive medical imaging. PEs occur most commonly when a blood clot travels down the pulmonary artery to the lungs, blocking circulation and thus preventing the lung from being able to absorb oxygen from the air properly. Not the sort of stuff you expect to see in a late night TV advertisement.

Yet a few nights ago I found myself watching an ad wherein an attractive young couple switched off the light in their bedroom, only to turn it back on again a few (subjective) minutes later, evidently much to the young lady's disgust. She then proceeded to harangue the young gentleman about his PE, urging him to seek assistance, whereupon the contact details of a suitable company were placed upon the screen. This all made no sense to me at all until I later discovered that PE is also an abbreviation for premature ejaculation.

It occurred to me that this type of mix-up must happen all the time, with potentially dire consequences. A patient turns up to hospital suffering PE and somewhere along the way there is bound to be some confusion unless everyone is clear exactly what is going on. So I have compiled this short quiz to help you test your knowledge of PE. Simply read each statement and decide which type of PE the statement applies to. Good luck!

1. Pregnancy can cause PE. 
2. A brief period of mobility in bed can cause PE. 
3. Patients with PE can appear breathless, tachycardic, and sweaty. 
4. PE can manifest within seconds, with little warning. 
5. A prolonged period of immobility in bed can cause PE. 
6. In PE the primary problem is often venous.
7. PE can cause pregnancy.
8. In PE the primary problem is seldom Venus. 
9. PE can cause sudden collapse and unconciousness.
10. PE is often preceded by the appearance of a hot, red, swollen extremity.

I will post the answers in a comment below in a week.

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