USMLE Step 3 Question of the Week #494

494.  A 45 year old man with a 20-year history of tobacco use presents to the emergency department after having repeated episodes of sharp, stabbing substernal pain with a dry, hacking cough over the last 2-3 days. The episodes last between 5-10 seconds. He first noticed them several days ago.They were not brought on by exertion and they did not improve with rest. He denies fever, shortness of breath, or tachypnea otherwise. He denies any recent sick contacts. The patient’s temperature is 99.2, heart rate is 72, blood pressure is 143/77. Cardiac exam reveals reveals regular rate and rhythm. There are no murmurs, rubs, or gallops. There are scant crackles throughout the lung fields. Laboratory findings are shown below:

WBC (x 10^3 cells/mL): 10.2
Hemoglobin (g/dL): 13.8
Hematocrit (%): 43.4
RBC (x 10^6/mL): 4.9
RDW (%): 13.2
MCV (fL/cell): 97
MCH (pg/cell): 31
MCHC (%): 36
Platelets (x 10^3): 310

Sodium (mEq/L): 141
Potassium (mEq/L): 4.2
Chloride (mEq/L): 105
Bicarbonate (mEq/L): 19
Creatinine (mg/dL): 1.1
Blood Urea Nitrogen (mg/dL): 23
Glucose, fasting (mg/dl): 78
Calcium (g/dL): 9.3
Calcium, ionized (mEq/L): 2.3

What is the best next diagnostic step?

A. Respiratory viral panel


C. Echocardiogram

D. Troponins



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USMLE Step3 Question of the Week #493

#493. A 77-year-old male is brought into the Emergency Department after the staff at his nursing home witnessed a syncopal event. Once a week a barber comes to the nursing home to provide haircuts and shaving services. After the barber raised the head of the patient’s bed and started to shave his neck, the patient suddenly lost consciousness. The barber called for help, and the patient was regaining consciousness by the time staff arrived. Within a few minutes the patient was at his baseline mental status and did not lose control of his bladder or bowels or bite his tongue during the episode. The barber didn’t notice any abnormal movements by the patient but reports he was trying a new “natural” shaving foam this morning. The patient has a history of Parkinson’s disease and hypertension. He does not smoke or drink alcohol. Blood pressure is 124/84 mm Hg and heart rate is 92 beats/minute sitting and 128/82 mm Hg and 88 beats/minute after standing two minutes. What would be the next best step in management?

A. Immediate referral for permanent pacemaker

B. Carbamazepine

C. Referral to an Electrophysiologist

D. Carotid endarterectomy

E. Reassurance, education and clinical follow-up


USMLE Step3 Question of the Week #492

#492.  A 37-year-old woman with a history of bulimia nervosa presents with chest pain. Patient describes it as a sharp pain, localized to the middle of the chest, and occurred acutely last night after vomiting.  Current medications are fluoxetine 60 mg orally daily and a daily multivitamin.

On physical exam, patient appears ill and diaphoretic.  Vital signs show temperature of 37 °C (98.6 °F), blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg, pulse of 90 /min, respiratory rate of 30 / min, and oxygen saturation of 98% on room air.  Oropharynx is erythematous, dentition is poor and back molars show significant erosion.  There is dullness to percussion and diminished breath sounds over the lower lobe of the left lung.  Remainder of the physical exam is normal.   EKG and laboratory tests are normal.  Chest x-ray shows a small left pleural effusion and evidence of pneumomediastinum.

Which of the following is the definitive diagnostic step in this patient?

A. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy

B. Barium swallow study

C. Helical CT of the chest without contrast

D. Gastrografin swallow study

E. Thoracentesis



USMLE Step 3 Question of the Week #491

#491.  A 65-year-old African-American male with a long-standing history of coronary artery disease and hypertension presents with shortness of breath and fatigue.  Patient says he feels fatigued throughout the day and that he can no longer walk across the room without being short of breath.  Patient states that symptoms onset a couple days ago and have steadily worsened.

Vitals are temperature 37 °C (98.6 °F), blood pressure 165/82 mm Hg, pulse 100/min, respirations 18/min, and oxygen saturation 97% on room air.  On physical exam, patient appears alert and in no apparent distress.  Cardiac exam reveals a load P2 and an S3 gallop.  Pulses are regular but have alternating strong and weak beats.  Mean jugular venous pressure is 12 cm H20.  Pulmonary exam reveals crackles in the lower lung fields bilaterally.  Extremities are cool to the touch and there is 2+ pitting edema bilaterally.

Laboratory tests show:

Sodium                                               120 mEq/L

Potassium                                           4.0 mEqL

Chloride                                               100 mEq/L

Bicarbonate                                         25 mEq/L

BUN                                                     45 mg/dL

Creatinine                                           1.0 g mg/dL

Glucose (fasting)                                90 mg/dL

Magnesium                                         1.7 mg/dL

Calcium                                               9.0 mg/dL

Phosphorous                                       4.1 mg/dL

Bilirubin, conjugated                           0.2 mg/dL

Bilirubin, total                                     1.0 mg/dL

AST (SGOT)                                          20 mU/mL

ALT (SGPT)                                          15 mU/mL

Alkaline Phosphatase                         80 U/L

WBC                                                    7000 / mm3

RBC                                                     5 x 106/mm3

Hematocrit                                          45%

Hemoglobin                                         15.0 g/dL

Platelet Count                                     250,000 / mm3

BNP                                                     750 pg/mL

NT-proBNP                                          1250 pg/mL

Troponin T (cTnT)                                0.05 ng/mL

Troponin I (cTnI)                                  0.03 ng/mL

Chest X-ray reveals evidence of pulmonary vascular congestion and pulmonary edema in the lung bases bilaterally.  EKG reveals Q wavs in leads V1 and V2, evidence of left ventricular hypertrophy and a left bundle branch block.  Transthoracic echocardiography reveals a LV ejection fraction of 25%, increased left ventricular wall thickness, moderate left atrial enlargement, and evidence of left anterior wall dyskinesis consistent with an old anterior wall myocardial infarction.

Patient is admitted to CCU and started on high flow 100% oxygen by nasal canula.  Carvedilol 25 mg orally twice daily, captopril 25 mg orally three times daily, furosemide 100 mg orally, and eplerenone 25 mg orally daily are initiated.

Which of the following is the next best step in management of this patient

A. Administer 1 L NS bolus and then NS + 20 mEq/L KCL IV at 115 mL/h

B. Initiate hydralazine 35 mg orally 3 times daily and isosorbide dinitrate 20 mg orally 3 times daily.

C. Restrict sodium intake to 5 g/day

D. Initiate digoxin 4 mcg/kg orally daily

E. Initiate diltiazem 150 mg orally daily



USMLE Step 1 Question of the Week #2

A 65-year-old male patient is brought to the emergency department by his relatives for sudden onset of shortness of breath. He was recently diagnosed with bronchogenic carcinoma of the small cell variety. He had come in with a history of coughing up blood on several occasions with a persistent cough. He had been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for the last 20 years. Today he also complains of occasional headaches and a difficulty in seeing. He complains that these symptoms are more prominent in the morning when he wakes up from sleep. It subsides as the day progresses. Which of the following are the further physical findings the physician is expected to find in this patient?

A. Lower extremity edema along with distention of the superficial veins of the abdomen.

B. Edema and a purplish hue in the upper extremities, extending to the head.

C. Low blood pressure and a weak pulse, with extended jugular veins.

D. Breathing produces paradoxical movements in the chest.

E. Swelling of the feet with an increased shortness of breath as the patient lies down.

USMLE Step 1 Question of the week #1

Saturday challenge! Answer this  question. Here is how a typical Archer Step 1 Qbank interface looks, simulates USMLE Step 1 exam exactly. Try more at

Archer Step 1 Qbank interface


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