Resuscitation from prolonged cardiac arrest with high-dose intravenous magnesium sulfate

J Emerg Med. Nov-Dec 1991;9(6):469-76. doi: 10.1016/0736-4679(91)90220-a.


We present evidence of resuscitation from prolonged (70-min) cardiac arrest, temporally associated with administration of 8 g intravenous (IV) magnesium sulfate (MgSO4). A patient undergoing liposuction surgery developed bradycardia and a fall in oxygen tension after reversal of general anesthesia with physostigmine. The electrocardiogram (ECG) rhythm degenerated to ventricular asystole, which was refractory to standard therapy, including multiple boluses of epinephrine, atropine, wide-open dopamine, and attempts at right heart pacing. External cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was continuously maintained with the patient intubated on 100% oxygen. Multiple electric countershocks (x7) and lidocaine were also administered when ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation (VT/VF) occurred, but without clinical success. Approximately one hour into the resuscitation, after all of the above occurred, 8 g IV MgSO4 was given and countershock repeated. Whereas the 7 previous countershocks had resulted in unsuccessful conversion of VT/VF to a pulseless rhythm (EMD), the 8th countershock (applied immediately after two 4 g boluses of IV MgSO4) resulted in a stable pulse and normal sinus rhythm developing within 4 minutes. The patient recovered without neurologic deficit.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electric Countershock
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / complications*
  • Heart Arrest / etiology
  • Heart Arrest / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intraoperative Complications
  • Magnesium Sulfate / administration & dosage*
  • Resuscitation* / methods
  • Tachycardia / drug therapy*
  • Tachycardia / etiology
  • Tachycardia / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / etiology
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / physiopathology


  • Magnesium Sulfate