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Ultrasonographic Assessment During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Wan-Ching Lien1, Chih-Heng Chang2, Wei-Tien Chang1,3, Wen-Jone Chen1,3


The US-CAB (Ultrasound, Circulation/Airway/Breathing) protocol integrates several sonographic techniques into a structured assessment of the circulation, airway, and breathing status of a patient during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in an advanced life support-compliant manner. US-C provides a subxiphoid view of the heart, to look for potentially reversible causes of disease, such as pericardial effusion, pulmonary embolism, hypovolemia, and acute coronary thrombosis. Sonographic cardiac activity during CPR not only helps differentiate pseudo-pulseless electrical activity (PEA) from true PEA but also represents a higher chance of the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and survival. Evaluation of the inferior vena cava (IVC) shows the fluid status of the patient and indicates the best methods to use for fluid resuscitation. If aortic dissection is suspected, a subxiphoid view of the aorta is suggested for identifying an intimal flap. Once intubation is done, tracheal ultrasound (US-A) at the suprasternal notch helps differentiate endotracheal intubation (one air-mucosal interface with one comet-tail) from esophageal intubation (double tract sign). Immediately following US-A, bilateral lung US (US-B) should be done to confirm proper bilateral ventilation using the lung sliding sign. In addition, US-C can be serially followed to see the dynamic changes in the cardiac chambers and IVC, or any cardiac contraction suggestive of ROSC. US-B can also detect coexisting lung or pleural pathologies without interfering with the performance of CPR. The main concern when implementing this method is maintaining high-quality CPR without delays in chest compressions when performing US-CAB. Rigorous training and continued practice are key to minimize any interruptions during resuscitation.

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