Outcome in cardiac arrest patients found to have cardiac standstill on the bedside emergency department echocardiogram

Acad Emerg Med. 2001 Jun;8(6):616-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2001.tb00174.x.


Patients presenting in cardiac arrest frequently have poor outcomes despite heroic resuscitative measures in the field. Many emergency medical systems have protocols in place to stop resuscitative measures in the field; however, further predictors need to be developed for cardiac arrest patients brought to the emergency department (ED).

Objective: To examine the predictive value of cardiac standstill visualized on bedside ED echocardiograms during the initial presentations of patients receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Methods: The study took place in a large urban community hospital with an emergency medicine residency program and a high volume of cardiac arrest patients. As part of routine care, all patients arriving with CPR in progress were subject to immediate and brief subxiphoid or parasternal cardiac ultrasound examination. This was followed by brief repeat ultrasound examination during the resuscitation when pulses were checked. A 2.5-MHz phased-array probe was used for imaging. Investigators filled out standardized data sheets. Examinations were taped for review. Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, positive and negative predictive values, and likelihood ratios.

Results: One hundred sixty-nine patients were enrolled in the study. One hundred thirty-six patients had cardiac standstill on the initial echocardiogram. Of these, 71 patients had an identifiable rhythm on monitor. No patient with sonographically identified cardiac standstill survived to leave the ED regardless of his or her initial electrical rhythm. Cardiac standstill on echocardiogram resulted in a positive predictive value of 100% for death in the ED, with a negative predictive value of 58%.

Conclusions: Patients presenting with cardiac standstill on bedside echocardiogram do not survive to leave the ED regardless of their electrical rhythms. This finding was uniform regardless of downtime. Although larger studies are needed, this may be an additional marker for cessation of resuscitative efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Echocardiography*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Arrest / therapy
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies