A 57-year-old man is watching his son’s baseball game when he suddenly collapses. Witnesses did not appreciate a pulse, so they started CPR. Unfortunately, an AED was not available. EMS was called and when they arrived within minutes the patient was found to be in vfib arrest and was defibrillated. When the patient arrived to the hospital, he was in PEA arrest. Ultrasound of the patient’s heart showed some coordinated cardiac activity. ACLS doesn’t really tell us how to proceed with cardiac activity but not enough to generate a pulse on the monitor.
Background: Pulseless electrical activity (PEA) is an organized electrical activity without a palpable pulse. 1/3 of cardiac arrest cases will be pulseless electrical activity and the overall prognosis of these patients is worse than patients who have shockable rhythms (ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia). It can be a challenge to decide when to terminate or continue resuscitation efforts in PEA arrest. Palpating pulses is difficult in the setting of a code situation, neither sensitive nor specific based on current literature. The use of POCUS could help split PEA patients into Pseudo-PEA (cardiac activity on US = profound shock) vs True-PEA (no cardiac activity on US) in determining the potential for ROSC....Read More