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An outcomes analysis of anterior epistaxis management in the emergency department.

BACKGROUND: Many treatment options exist for the management of anterior epistaxis. However, little is known about treatment outcomes. The objective was to identify the currently utilised methods of management and outcomes for patients with anterior epistaxis presenting to the emergency department (ED) at a Canadian tertiary care center.

METHODS: A retrospective review of ED visits from January 2012-May 2014 for adult patients with a diagnosis of anterior epistaxis was performed. Patient demographic data, comorbidities, and treatment methods were documented. The effectiveness of different treatment modalities was determined.

RESULTS: Three hundred fifty-three primary anterior epistaxis cases were included. Mean patient age was 70 years and 49% of patients were female. Comorbidities included hypertension (56%), diabetes (19%), CAD (28%), and atrial fibrillation (27%). A large proportion of the cohort (61%) was on at least one anticoagulant or antiplatelet therapy. The most common utilised treatment modalities were silver nitrate cauterization, Merocel®, petroleum gauze packing, nasal clip and 15% were simply observed. Initial treatment success was achieved in 74% of cases. Of patients receiving specific treatment modalities, silver nitrate cauterization had the highest success rate at 80%. 26% of patients returned to the ED for recurrence of epistaxis with highest rates occurring in the nasal clip (59%), Merocel® (26%), and petroleum gauze packing (42%) groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The differences in recurrence rate among the different treatment modalities observed may be due to true differences in effectiveness or differences in treatment selection by the ED physicians based on severity of epistaxis. Cauterization with silver nitrate, however, offers the added benefit of no need for follow up. Further study is needed to elucidate the most efficacious treatment modality based on epistaxis severity.

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