the metablog

Posts written by Daniel Jolley.
Daniel Jolley

About the author

Daniel Jolley is an anesthesiologist, founder and CEO of metajournal, providing personalized medical research recommendations to fellow doctors.

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Metajournal has CPD reporting

One of metajournal's lesser known features is:

Okay, I admit it doesn't sound very exciting – but I think this small feature will both save you time and make achieving your Continuing Professional Development requirements a little bit easier.

Many colleges and medical boards now require evidence of CPD activities, including medical journal reading and reviewing. Some require simply an estimate of the time spent, while others like ANZCA require submission of a bibliography of every article you have read!

Because metajournal keeps track of the abstracts you read, the articles you favourite and the full-text papers you retrieve, we can also provide you with a report for submitting to your CPD/CME organization.

metajournal PDF CPD report

Simply click on 'My CPD Reports' in the dropdown menu, choose which type of article-activities you want included, a date range and then whether you wish to view the report as a web page or as a PDF. Voilà!

metajournal CPD report choose PDF or HTML

Metajournal will even estimate how long you have spent reading papers!

metajournal CPD time estimate

And if that's still too much work, metajournal automatically emails out a quarterly PDF CPD report to all our subscribers.

Happy staying up to date!

Metoclopramide: it actually works!?

Metoclopramide had long been written off by many anesthetists and anesthesiologists, aware of trials and meta-analyses that show no or limited effect in treating or preventing nausea and vomiting – in particular limited ability to prevent post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV). Most recently Henzi, Walder and Tramèr (1999) were able to show only very limited benefit for metoclopramide 10 mg in preventing vomiting and no significant effect in preventing nausea in adults.1,2,3

What is metoclopramide?

Metoclopromaide is a benzamide, predominately used for antiemesis and its gastric prokinetic effect. It is marketed under the names Maxalon®, Pramin® and Reglan® in various countries. Although considered an old drug its antiemetic action was first identified in 1964 by French doctors Justin-Besançon and Laville.3 (In contrast the analgesic tramadol is often considered a "modern" drug outside of Europe, but was launched by Grünenthal GmbH in 1977.)

Metoclopramide readily crosses the blood-brain barrier where it mediates anti-emetic effects primarily as a dopamine D2 antagonist in the chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ – located in the area postrema of the 4th ventricle). Metoclopramide also has mixed 5-HT3 receptor antagonist and 5-HT4 receptor agonist actions. The former may contribute to anti-emesis at higher doses and the later to its pro-kinetic effects. Muscarinic cholinergic actions have also been identified, both through increasing acetylcholine release and by increasing receptor sensitivity to acetylcholine in the upper GI tract – further contributing to the pro-kinetic effect.

Read more...


  1. Henzi I, Walder B, Tramèr MR. Metoclopramide in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a quantitative systematic review of randomized, placebo-controlled studies. Br J Anaesth. 1999 Nov;83(5):761-71. 

  2. It's also interesting to note that there was no dose responsive effect regardless of route. NNT to prevent early (<6h) and late (<48h) vomiting were 9.1 (95% CI 5.5-27) and 10 (6-41) respectively. In children the best documented regimen was 0.25 mg/kg. NNT to prevent early vomiting was 5.8 (3.9-11); there was no effect on late vomiting. There was only a single documented case of extrapyramidal side effects out of 3260 patients, giving an incidence of 0.03%. 

  3. Justin-Besançon L, Laville C.C R Seances Soc Biol Fil. 1964;158:723-7. 

Sugammadex and rocuronium anaphylaxis

I have been intrigued since the first case reports appeared describing the use of sugammadex in rocuronium anaphylaxis. It sounds beautiful and elegant. A drug that magically mops up the offending molecule, removing it from circulation; quickly reversing the cardiovascular collapse as rapidly as it reverses muscle relaxation.

The little we know

  1. There have been case reports from 5 countries showing dramatic improvement of rocuronium-confirmed anaphylaxis after administration of sugammadex.
  2. One case study showed a dose-dependent effect of sugammadex on modifying anaphylaxis.
  3. There are not yet any published cases of rocuronium anaphylaxis where sugammadex was administered without clinical improvement (though beware).
  4. Sugammadex although incompletely encapsulating rocuronium, does prevent the rocuronium epitope from binding IgE.
  5. Cutaneous and in vitro models of hypersensitivity have shown no or limited ability of sugammadex to modify type 1 hypersensitivty after triggering.
  6. Our understanding of the pathophysiology of anaphylaxis is over-simplified and incomplete.

Unfortunately the truth is not quite as clear. Case reports showing impressive recovery of rocuronium anaphylaxis minutes after giving sugammadex are tempered by in vitro and in vivoimmunological studies suggesting an inability of sugammadex to modify a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction. The reality is likely somewhere in between, highlighting our limited understanding of anaphylaxis and our tendency to rush to over-simplified models of disease processes.

The story so far...

Jones and Turkstra first raised the possibility of using sugammadex to treat rocuronium anaphylaxis in 2010.1 One year later Nolan McDonnell and team published the first case report of a remarkable use of sugammadex to manage rocuronium anaphylaxis.2 McDonnell described a 33 year old having an elective diagnostic laparoscopy suffering anaphylaxis to rocuronium. After 19 min of conventional resuscitation, involving CPR, 3500 mL of intravenous fluids and 4 mg of epinephrine/adrenaline - 500 mg of sugammadex was given with remarkable effect:

"A dose of 500 mg (6.5 mg kg21) was given while chest compressions were in progress. The last dose of epinephrine had been given 4 min previously. Approximately 45 s after administration and while chest compressions were in progress, the patient suddenly opened her eyes and reached for her tracheal tube.

Read more...


  1. Jones PM, Turkstra TP. Mitigation of rocuronium-induced anaphylaxis by sugammadex: the great unknown. Anaesthesia. 2010 Jan;65(1):89-90; author reply 90. 

  2. McDonnell NJ, Pavy TJ, Green LK, Platt PR. Sugammadex in the management of rocuronium-induced anaphylaxis. Br J Anaesth. 2011 Feb;106(2):199-201. 

Cartoons reduce anxiety during anesthesia induction in children

Two studies caught my eye in Anesthesia & Analgesia. Teams from both Canada and South Korea independently investigated the anxiolytic value of using cartoons during paediatric induction.

The concept is not new, though this evidence is. The teams looked at different admission and induction types and in two distinctly different cultures, but showed very similar and significant benefits of using cartoons during pediatric induction.

Both papers highlighted the cost of perioperative anxiety in children. Anyone with even a passing pediatric anesthetic practice will agree with the reported 50% incidence of perioperative anxiety. Intense anxiety is associated with negative behavioural adaptations, some of which persist for months or longer. Severe childhood anxiety at anesthetic induction is almost as distressing for parents and anesthetist alike as it is for the poor child.

Read more...

Combatting decision fatigue in anaesthesia and critical care

Dynamic decision making' describes the practice of anaesthesia more than any other single characteristic - and anaesthesia is characterised by dynamic decision making more than any other medical speciality. The typical surgical case requires the anaesthetist or anesthesiologist to make hundreds of decisions, modified to suit the evolving environment of the case. Each decision itself modifies the patient context, creating a multiverse of decision and outcome possibilities.

"No plan survives contact with the [surgeon and patient] – Helmuth von Moltke

These decisions add up. Big and small, decision after decision over the day leads to a measurable fall in the quality of our decisions by the final case. Psychologists describe this as 'ego depletion', colloquially called 'decision fatigue'.1

Though not yet widely appreciated in medicine (though it is gaining traction on the medical front-line2), decision fatigue has been identified in many decision-focused professions. Decision fatigue has been identified in judges ruling on cases, with parole decisions made later in the day being of 'lesser quality' and having lower rates of parole than those at the start of the day (10% vs 70% for the first case of the day heard).3

"We find that the percentage of favorable rulings drops gradually from ~65% to nearly zero within each decision session and returns abruptly to ~65% after a break."

Read more...


  1. Tierney J. "Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?". New York Times Magazine. August 21 2011. 

  2. Oto B. When thinking is hard: managing decision fatigue. EMS World. 2012 May;41(5):46-50. 

  3. Danzigera S, Levav J, Avnaim-Pessoa L, "Extraneous factors in judicial decisions", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Feb 25 2011. 

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