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Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 2019 Feb 21. doi: 10.1002/ccd.28126. [Epub ahead of print]

Hydraulic stimulation of carotid artery baroreceptors as a likely cause of transient asystolic cardiac arrest during diagnostic angiography or surgical endarterectomy.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
Department of Neurologic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.


We describe two patients-both who underwent general anesthesia-in whom we theorize that hydraulic pressure on carotid artery baroreceptors resulted in transient asystolic cardiac arrest (TACA) during diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. Patient #1 was a 58-year-old female who experienced TACA in response to rapid injection of radiocontrast material into the carotid artery during diagnostic cerebral angiography. Her history was remarkable for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage at least 13 hr prior to angiography, radiographic evidence of intracranial hypertension, and baseline bradycardia, collectively suggestive of increases in baseline vagal tone. Potentially contributing to TACA, the patient had a 90° curve in the internal carotid artery, just distal to the carotid bifurcation and tip of the angiography catheter, that likely diminished runoff of injected contrast solution and, in turn, would have exacerbated any intracarotid pressure increases in response to injection. There was no evidence of increased baseline vagal tone in Patient #2, a 79-year-old female having carotid endarterectomy surgery. She experienced TACA immediately after full release of an occlusive clamp on the common carotid artery proximal to the now closed carotid arteriotomy, but while the internal carotid was still occluded. Of note, the carotid artery baroreceptors were not treated with local anesthetic in these patients, thus they should have retained much of their normal function. We describe the possible pathomechanisms involved in TACA in these patients, measures to diminish the likelihood of the phenomenon occurring in future patients, and methods for treating the asystole.


baroreceptors; cardiac arrest; carotid endarterectomy; cerebral angiography


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