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Acad Emerg Med. 2001 Jun;8(6):610-5.

Can cardiac sonography and capnography be used independently and in combination to predict resuscitation outcomes?

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St. Luke's Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA.



To measure the ability of cardiac sonography and capnography to predict survival of cardiac arrest patients in the emergency department (ED).


Nonconsecutive cardiac arrest patients prospectively underwent either cardiac ultrasonography alone or in conjunction with capnography during cardiopulmonary resuscitation at two community hospital EDs with emergency medicine residency programs. Cardiac ultrasonography was carried out using the subxiphoid view during pauses for central pulse evaluation and end-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO(2)) levels were monitored by a mainstream capnograph. A post-resuscitation data collection form was completed by each of the participating clinicians in order to assess their impressions of the facility of performance and benefit of cardiac sonography during nontraumatic cardiac resuscitation.


One hundred two patients were enrolled over a 12-month period. All patients underwent cardiac sonographic evaluation, ranging from one to five scans, during the cardiac resuscitation. Fifty-three patients also had capnography measurements recorded. The presence of sonographically identified cardiac activity at any point during the resuscitation was associated with survival to hospital admission, 11/41 or 27%, in contrast to those without cardiac activity, 2/61 or 3% (p < 0.001). Higher median ETCO(2) levels, 35 torr, were associated with improved chances of survival than the median ETCO(2) levels for nonsurvivors, 13.7 torr (p < 0.01). The multivariate logistic regression model, which evaluated the combination of cardiac ultrasonography and capnography, was able to correctly classify 92.4% of the subjects; however, of the two diagnostic tests, only capnography was a significant predictor of survival. The stepwise logistic regression model, summarized by the area under the receiver operator curve of 0.9, furthermore demonstrated that capnography is an outstanding predictor of survival.


Both the sonographic detection of cardiac activity and ETCO(2) levels higher than 16 torr were significantly associated with survival from ED resuscitation; however, logistic regression analysis demonstrated that prediction of survival using capnography was not enhanced by the addition of cardiac sonography.

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