Ultrasound diagnosis of cardiac rupture caused by mechanical chest compression

Turk J Emerg Med. 2018 Feb 26;18(2):82-84. doi: 10.1016/j.tjem.2018.02.003. eCollection 2018 Jun.


A 74-year-old male with chronic kidney disease presented to the emergency department with asystole. Mechanical chest compression was started immediately using a piston-type thumper device. The initial potassium level was 7.7 mEq/L and bedside point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) revealed no pericardial fluid. With standard resuscitation and anti-hyperkalemia treatment, return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was achieved within 10 minutes of compressions. At 15 minutes post-ROSC, the patient went into pulseless electrical activity. A repeated POCUS discovered massive pericardial fluid suggesting the presence of cardiac tamponade. Bedside pericardiotomy was performed followed by open thoracotomy. Laceration of the right ventricular wall adjacent to the fracture site of sternum was found, implicating that it was the complication of mechanical chest compression. After surgical repair and intensive post-operative care, the patient survived with full conscious recovery at day 6 of admission. Our case emphasizes the importance of POCUS in resuscitation, especially when the patient's condition deteriorates unexpectedly.

Keywords: Cardiac rupture; Mechanical chest compression; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Case Reports