In the recent issue of Emergency Physician’s Monthly (one of my favorite EM magazines), Drs. Teresa Wu and Brady Pregerson once again hit the ultrasound wave and start soaring in their newest insert describing the utility of bedside ultrasound during cardiac arrest and post-mortem.
They describe it best: ” ….60-year-old male who collapsed at work and remained unresponsive. They state that there was bystander CPR and a lot of freaking out by coworkers. The only past history they have was from a coworker who thought he had high blood pressure. There was also a witness who told them he was just walking, then doubled over and collapsed without saying a thing. No one knew if he had any symptoms earlier in the day. Paramedics state he was initially in a PEA rhythm at a rate of 120 bpm on the monitor. They started an IV, gave him a 500cc saline bolus, intubated him, and have given three rounds of epi. They estimate a 15 minute down time prior to their arrival and a 10 minute transport time with no return of spontaneous circulation. In fact, things are going in the opposite direction as he has been in asystole for the past five minutes.
They move him onto the bed where your EMT takes over CPR. You note good and symmetric assisted breath sounds via the ET tube, but minimal palpable femoral pulse despite what appears to be good CPR to the tempo of the Bee Gees hit “Staying Alive”. On the monitor there is asystole in two leads. Pupils are fixed and dilated despite no atropine having been received. Things are not looking promising.
You request saline wide open and a final round of epinephrine while you take a look for cardiac motion with the ultrasound machine. To minimize interruption of CPR you don’t have the EMT pause until you are completely ready to look. You also have the RT hold respirations to avoid any artifact. There is no cardiac motion. You verbalize this to your team. The heart does not appear dilated and there is no pericardial effusion. You ask aloud, “anyone have any other suggestions” prior to calling the time of death.
Of course you next wonder what did him in: MI, PE, something else… His belly looks pretty protuberant, so you decide to take a quick look at his abdomen to check for free fluid. What you see is shown in the two images below. “
What do you think killed this gentleman? Trust me, you want to read more and see what exactly the ultrasound image is - as it is quite an interesting finding: go here.
For a discussion from a prior post on ultrasound during cardiac arrest, go here.