JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

C.A.U.S.E.: Cardiac arrest ultra-sound exam—a better approach to managing patients in primary non-arrhythmogenic cardiac arrest

Caleb Hernandez, Klaus Shuler, Hashibul Hannan, Chionesu Sonyika, Antonios Likourezos, John Marshall
Resuscitation 2008, 76 (2): 198-206
17822831
Cardiac arrest is a condition frequently encountered by physicians in the hospital setting including the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and medical/surgical wards. This paper reviews the current literature involving the use of ultrasound in resuscitation and proposes an algorithmic approach for the use of ultrasound during cardiac arrest. At present there is the need for a means of differentiating between various causes of cardiac arrest, which are not a direct result of a primary ventricular arrhythmia. Identifying the cause of pulseless electrical activity or asystole is important as the underlying cause is what guides management in such cases. This approach, incorporating ultrasound to manage cardiac arrest aids in the diagnosis of the most common and easily reversible causes of cardiac arrest not caused by primary ventricular arrhythmia, namely; severe hypovolemia, tension pneumothorax, cardiac tamponade, and massive pulmonary embolus. These four conditions are addressed in this paper using four accepted emergency ultrasound applications to be performed during resuscitation of a cardiac arrest patient with the aim of determining the underlying cause of a cardiac arrest. Identifying the underlying cause of cardiac arrest represents the one of the greatest challenges of managing patients with asystole or PEA and accurate determination has the potential to improve management by guiding therapeutic decisions. We include several clinical images demonstrating examples of cardiac tamponade, massive pulmonary embolus, and severe hypovolemia secondary to abdominal aortic aneurysm. In conclusion, this protocol has the potential to reduce the time required to determine the etiology of a cardiac arrest and thus decrease the time between arrest and appropriate therapy.

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