Bedside ultrasound in cardiac standstill: a clinical review

Laila Hussein, Mohammad Anzal Rehman, Ruhina Sajid, Firas Annajjar, Tarik Al-Janabi
The ultrasound journal 2019 December 30, 11 (1): 35
Patients with cardiac arrest present as a relatively frequent occurrence in the Emergency Department. Despite the advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of cardiac arrest, managing the condition remains a stressful endeavor and currently implemented interventions, while beneficial, are still associated with a disappointingly low survivability. The majority of modern Advanced Life Support algorithms employ a standardized approach to best resuscitate the 'crashed' patient. However, management during resuscitation often encourages a 'one-size-fits-all' policy for most patients, with lesser attention drawn towards causality of the disease and factors that could alter resuscitative care. Life support providers are also often challenged by the limited bedside predictors of survival to guide the course and duration of resuscitation. Over the recent decades, point-of-care ultrasonography (PoCUS) has been gradually proving itself as a useful adjunct that could potentially bridge the gap in the recognition and evaluation of precipitants and end-points in resuscitation, thereby facilitating an improved approach to resuscitation of the arrested patient. Point-of-care ultrasound applications in the critical care field have tremendously evolved over the past four decades. Today, bedside ultrasound is a fundamental tool that is quick, safe, inexpensive and reproducible. Not only can it provide the physician with critical information on reversible causes of arrest, but it can also be used to predict survival. Of note is its utility in predicting worse survival outcomes in patients with cardiac standstill, i.e., no cardiac activity witnessed with ultrasound. Unfortunately, despite the increasing evidence surrounding ultrasound use in arrest, bedside ultrasound is still largely underutilized during the resuscitation process. This article reviews the current literature on cardiac standstill and the application of bedside ultrasound in cardiac arrests.

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