Contrast Agent Pooling (C.A.P.) sign and imminent cardiac arrest: a retrospective study

BMC Emerg Med. 2022 May 6;22(1):77. doi: 10.1186/s12873-022-00634-4.


Background: The sign of contrast agent pooling (C.A.P.) in dependent part of the venous system were reported in some case reports, which happened in the patients before sudden cardiac arrest. Until now, there is no solid evidence enough to address the importance of the sign. This study aimed to assess the accuracy of the C.A.P. sign in predicting imminent cardiac arrest and the association of the C.A.P. sign with patient's survival.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study. The study included all patients who visited the emergency department, who received contrast computed tomography (CT) scan and then experienced cardiac arrest at the emergency department (from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018). We evaluated the occurrence of the C.A.P. sign on the chest or abdominal CT scan, patients with ECMO were excluded. With positive C.A.P. sign, the primary outcome is whether in-hospital cardiac arrest happens within an hour; the accuracy of C.A.P. sign was calculated. The secondary outcome is survival to discharge.

Results: In the study, 128 patients were included. 8.6% (N = 11) patients had positive C.A.P. sign and 91.4% (N = 117) patients did not. The accuracy of C.A.P. sign in predicting cardiac arrest within 1 h was 85.94%. The C.A.P. sign had a positive association with IHCA within 1 h after the CT scan (adjusted odds ratio 7.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.27 - 42.69). The relative risk (RR) of survival to discharge was 0.90 with positive C.A.P. sign (95% CI 0.85 - 0.96).

Conclusions: The C.A.P. sign can be considered as an alarm for imminent cardiac arrest and poor prognosis. The patients with positive C.A.P. sign were more likely to experience imminent cardiac arrest; in contrast, less likely to survive.

Trial registration: IRB No.108107-E.

Keywords: Cardiac failure; Emergency medicine; Radiology; Resuscitation; Shock.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation* / methods
  • Contrast Media
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Contrast Media