Sunday, February 21, 2016

Synthetic Cannabinoids, a NEW Problem

Image Credit: Image from
Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

This post was peer reviewed.
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   Author: Nishma Sachedina, MD
   Emergency Medicine Resident
   University of Chicago
   AAEM/RSA Publications Committee Member

In the 1980s, scientists developed synthetic cannabinoids as a means to study the endocannabinoid system.[1,2] While some earnest chemists characterized cannabinoid receptors, more entrepreneurial chemists created a novel market of NEW drugs—nontraditional emerging web-based drugs.[3] Synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) are one varietal of these NEW drugs, and their use has been growing exponentially since they were first recognized as drugs of abuse in Europe in 2000.[4]

When SCs came to the USA in 2008, they flourished because of a lack of legislation against them and because they evaded standard medical toxicology screening tests.[1] Sold over the internet, in head shops, and in even in gas stations and convenient stores, SCs are often marketed as “legal highs.”[1] They can be consumed in a number of ways, from adding the compound to plant materials to dissolving the compounds in liquid for use in e-cigarettes or beverages.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ocular Emergency: Chemical Burns, A Non-Ophthalmologist Approach to Initial Treatment and Referral

Image from Maxxl2 - Wikimedia Commons

This post was peer reviewed.
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Fernando Pellerano, MS-V Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) School of Medicine

Chemical burns represent potentially blinding ocular injuries and constitute a true ocular emergency requiring immediate assessment and initiation of treatment. The sequelae of an ocular burn can be severe and particularly challenging to manage. An appropriate initial emergency management may be the most important factor in determining visual outcome.[1]

Chemical eye injuries can occur from any exogenous material contacting the eye. This includes alkalis (e.g., lye, cements, plasters, airbag powder, bleach, and ammonia), acids (e.g., battery acid, pool cleaner, and vinegar), solvents, detergents, and irritants (e.g., mace).[2] Severity of the eye injury depends on the pH, concentration, and the nature of the chemical.