This page is dedicated to organizing various examples of standardized exam questions whose answer is pertussis. While this may seem a odd practice, it is useful to see multiple examples of how pertussis will be characterized on standardized exams (namely the boards and the shelf exams). This page is not meant to be used as a tradition question bank (as all of the answers will be the same), however seeing the classic “test” characterization for a disease is quite valuable.
Question # 1
A 3 month old boy is brought to the clinic because he has been having coughing spells that have gotten worse over the past 11 days, and they are often associated with vomiting. The physical exam reveals a healthy appearing and afebrile patient, until he suddenly has a coughing spell. The coughing continues for 25 seconds, and then the patient appears cyanotic for about 10 seconds. There are no crackles heard during the respiratory examination. What diagnosis might explain this patient’s presentation?
Question # 2
An otherwise health 21 year old man comes to the clinic because of a 2 week history of a cough. During the past few days he has been experiencing coughing episodes that are so strong that he has vomited. His cough produces thick green sputum however he feels well between his episodes of coughing. The patient denies fever, chest pain, or any dyspnea. His temperature is 99.0°F, pulse is 75/min, respirations are 15/min, and blood pressure is 120/70 mm Hg. A pulse oximetry reading with room air shows an oxygen saturation of 98%. A physical exam is unremarkable. What is the likely diagnosis?
Explanation: long history of coughing + coughing episodes that result in emesis = pertussis
Page Updated: 11.14.2016