Diagnostic yield of computed tomography after non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

Resuscitation. 2023 Aug:189:109898. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2023.109898. Epub 2023 Jul 6.


Aim: Determine the frequency with which computed tomography (CT) after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) identifies clinically important findings.

Methods: We included non-traumatic OHCA patients treated at a single center from February 2019 to February 2021. Clinical practice was to obtain CT head in comatose patients. Additionally, CT of the cervical spine, chest, abdomen, and pelvis were obtained if clinically indicated. We identified CT imaging obtained within 24 hours of emergency department (ED) arrival and summarized radiology findings. We used descriptive statistics to summarize population characteristics and imaging results, report their frequencies and, post hoc, compared time from ED arrival to catheterization between patients who did and did not undergo CT.

Results: We included 597 subjects, of which 491 (82.2%) had a CT obtained. Time to CT was 4.1 hours [2.8-5.7]. Most (n = 480, 80.4%) underwent CT head, of which 36 (7.5%) had intracranial hemorrhage and 161 (33.5%) had cerebral edema. Fewer subjects (230, 38.5%) underwent a cervical spine CT, and 4 (1.7%) had acute vertebral fractures. Most subjects (410, 68.7%) underwent a chest CT, and abdomen and pelvis CT (363, 60.8%). Chest CT abnormalities included rib or sternal fractures (227, 55.4%), pneumothorax (27, 6.6%), aspiration or pneumonia (309, 75.4%), mediastinal hematoma (18, 4.4%) and pulmonary embolism (6, 3.7%). Significant abdomen and pelvis findings were bowel ischemia (24, 6.6%) and solid organ laceration (7, 1.9%). Most subjects that had CT imaging deferred were awake and had shorter time to catheterization.

Conclusions: CT identifies clinically important pathology after OHCA.

Keywords: Cardiac arrest; Computed tomography; Heart arrest; Injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / diagnostic imaging
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Injuries*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods