Article: Case Studies in Physiology: Untangling the cause of hypoxemia in an obese patient with acute leukemia
Authors: Iliya Amaza, Hardik Kalra, Michael Eberlein, Yogesh Jethava, Joseph McDonell, Bobby Wolfe, Michael H Tomasson, Melissa L Bates
Journal: J Appl Physiol. 2021 May 6. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00867.2020. Online ahead of print.
Diagnosing the cause of hypoxemia and dyspnea can be complicated in complex patients with multiple co-morbidities. This Case Study in Physiology describes an obese man admitted to the hospital for relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, who experienced progressive hypoxemia, shortness of breath, and dyspnea on exertion during his hospitalization. After initial empirical treatment with diuresis and antibiotics failed to improve his symptoms, we applied a novel, recently described physiological method to estimate the arterial partial pressure of oxygen from the peripheral saturation measurement, and calculate the alveolar-arterial oxygen difference to discern the source of his hypoxemia and dyspnea. Using basic physiological principles, we describe how hypoventilation, anemia, and the use of a beta-blocker and furosemide, collaborated to create a “perfect storm” in this patient that impaired oxygen delivery and limited utilization. This case illustrates the application of innovative physiology methodology in medicine and provides strong rationale for continuing to integrate physiology education in medical education.
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