Pre-hospital Echo

Pre-hospital physicians in Germany performed basic echo on patients with symptoms either of profound hypotension and/or severe dyspnoea/tachypnoea where judged by the physician to be in a ‘peri-resuscitation’ state, and on patients undergoing CPR. Features noted were; cardiac motion (present or absent), ventricular function (normal, moderately impaired, severely impaired, absent), right ventricular dilatation or pericardial collection.

A few interesting findings to note:

  • In almost all patients an interpretable view was achieved; in the CPR patients, the subcostal view was best
  • In PEA patients, there was a difference in survival to admission (to discharge isn’t documented) between those with and without sonographically evident cardiac wall motion (21/38 = 55% vs 1/13 = 8%)
  • In ‘suspected asystole’, some patients had sonographically evident cardiac wall motion, and 9/37 (24%) of these survived to hospital admission vs 4/37 (11%) with no wall motion. On this point, the authors note: ‘The ECG performance and interpretation were by experienced practitioners, and this therefore raises questions regarding the accuracy of an ECG diagnosis of asystole in the pre-hospital setting‘.

Purpose of the study: Focused ultrasound is increasingly used in the emergency setting, with an ALS- compliant focused echocardiography algorithm proposed as an adjunct in peri-resuscitation care (FEEL). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of FEEL in pre-hospital resuscitation, the incidence of potentially treatable conditions detected, and the influence on patient management.

Patients, materials and methods: A prospective observational study in a pre-hospital emergency setting in patients actively undergoing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or in a shock state. The FEEL protocol was applied by trained emergency doctors, following which a standardised report sheet was completed, including echo findings and any echo-directed change in management. These reports were then analysed independently.

Results: A total of 230 patients were included, with 204 undergoing a FEEL examination during ongoing cardiac arrest (100) and in a shock state (104). Images of diagnostic quality were obtained in 96%. In 35% of those with an ECG diagnosis of asystole, and 58% of those with PEA, coordinated cardiac motion was detected, and associated with increased survival. Echocardiographic findings altered management in 78% of cases.

Conclusions: Application of ALS-compliant echocardiography in pre-hospital care is feasible, and alters diagnosis and management in a significant number of patients. Further research into its effect on patient outcomes is warranted.

Focused echocardiographic evaluation in life support and peri-resuscitation of
emergency patients: A prospective trial

Resuscitation. 2010 Nov;81(11):1527-33