Does the presence or absence of sonographically identified cardiac activity predict resuscitation outcomes of cardiac arrest patients?

Philip Salen, Larry Melniker, Carolyn Chooljian, John S Rose, Janet Alteveer, James Reed, Michael Heller
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2005, 23 (4): 459-62
This study evaluated the ability of cardiac sonography performed by emergency physicians to predict resuscitation outcomes of cardiac arrest patients. A convenience sample of cardiac arrest patients prospectively underwent bedside cardiac sonography at 4 emergency medicine residency-affiliated EDs as part of the Sonography Outcomes Assessment Program. Cardiac arrest patients in pulseless electrical activity (PEA) and asystole underwent transthoracic cardiac ultrasound B-mode examinations during their resuscitations to assess for the presence or absence of cardiac kinetic activity. Several end points were analyzed as potential predictors of resuscitations: presenting cardiac rhythms, the presence of sonographically detected cardiac activity, prehospital resuscitation time intervals, and ED resuscitation time intervals. Of 70 enrolled subjects, 36 were in asystole and 34 in PEA. Patients presenting without evidence of cardiac kinetic activity did not have return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) regardless of their cardiac rhythm, asystole, or PEA. Of the 34 subjects presenting with PEA, 11 had sonographic evidence of cardiac kinetic activity, 8 had ROSC with subsequent admission to the hospital, and 1 had survived to hospital discharge with scores of 1 on the Glasgow-Pittsburgh Cerebral Performance scale and 1 in the Overall Performance category. The presence of sonographically identified cardiac kinetic motion was associated with ROSC. Time interval durations of cardiac resuscitative efforts in the prehospital environment and in the ED were not accurate predictors of ROSC for this cohort. Cardiac kinetic activity, or lack thereof, identified by transthoracic B-mode ultrasound may aid physicians' decision making regarding the care of cardiac arrest patients with PEA or asystole.

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