[Successful therapy of a cardiac arrest during accidental hypothermia using extracorporeal circulation]

R Deiml, W Hess
Der Anaesthesist 1992, 41 (2): 93-8
We report the case of a 59-year-old woman suffering from profound accidental hypothermia promoted by intoxication with codeine, sedatives, and a beta-blocking agent ingested in a suicidal attempt. Treatment was further complicated by ventricular fibrillation and asystole that was refractory to therapeutic interventions. The comatose patient (Glasgow score 3) was found outdoors in rainy weather--environmental temperature approximately 10 degrees C (50 degrees F)--by children. The skin was rosy when the emergency team arrived. The respiratory rate was low and the ECG showed sinus rhythm with a heart rate of 28/min. No arterial pulsations were detectable, even at the carotid and femoral sites. Because catecholamine therapy failed to increase the heart rate, the patient was suspected to be profoundly hypothermic. After confirming core hypothermia with a rectal temperature of 25 degrees C (77 degrees F) at the initial receiving hospital, transfer to an institution with cardiac surgery facilities was initiated. During this transport and after arrival, ventricular fibrillation occurred at decreasing intervals followed by asystole, which was refractory to large doses of epinephrine. The patient was transferred to the operating room under continuous resuscitation maneuvers and cardiopulmonary bypass was instituted via the femoral vessels. After 110 min of extracorporeal circulation (ECC, flow 4.5 l/min) normothermia was achieved and the asystole reverted spontaneously to sinus rhythm. The patient's course was subsequently complicated by worsening pulmonary gas exchange with signs of pulmonary edema on X-ray films and cardiac failure, which was treated successfully with epinephrine and dopamine. No neurological deficits were detectable after consciousness had returned.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)


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