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Prehospital Ultrasound Use to Guide Resuscitative Thoracotomy in Blunt Traumatic Cardiac Arrest

      Abstract

      Traumatic cardiac arrest is frequently encountered in the air medical transport environment, and resuscitative thoracotomy is a procedure that is sometimes performed in an attempt to salvage these critically injured patients. Focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) is a point-of-care ultrasound protocol commonly used in trauma patients to detect the presence of free fluid in the intraperitoneal and pericardial spaces. The authors present a case of an adult female victim of a motor vehicle collision whose prehospital FAST scan revealed significant hemoperitoneum without hemopericardium. When she developed cardiac arrest, these ultrasound findings aided in the decision to perform resuscitative thoracotomy and helped guide the sequence of maneuvers with prioritization given to cross-clamping the aorta. This case highlights the utility of prehospital ultrasound in yielding timely, actionable diagnostic information that can inform the performance of a high-acuity low-occurrence procedure in the air medical transport environment.
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