Ying-Tai Shih1, Chai-Hock Chua2, Sheng-Wen Hou1, Li-Wei Lin1, Chee-Fah Chong1,3

1Department of Emergency Medicine, Shin-Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, Taipei City, Taiwan
2Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Shin-Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, Taipei City, Taiwan
3School of Medicine, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Keywords: Cardiac rupture; Mechanical chest compression; Ultrasound


A 74-year-old male with chronic kidney disease presented to the emergency department with asystole. Mechanical chest compression was started immediately using a piston-type thumper device. The initial potassium level was 7.7 mEq/L and bedside point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) revealed no pericardial fluid. With standard resuscitation and anti-hyperkalemia treatment, return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was achieved within 10 minutes of compressions. At 15 minutes post-ROSC, the patient went into pulseless electrical activity. A repeated POCUS discovered massive pericardial fluid suggesting the presence of cardiac tamponade. Bedside pericardiotomy was performed followed by open thoracotomy. Laceration of the right ventricular wall adjacent to the fracture site of sternum was found, implicating that it was the complication of mechanical chest compression. After surgical repair and intensive post-operative care, the patient survived with full conscious recovery at day 6 of admission. Our case emphasizes the importance of POCUS in resuscitation, especially when the patient's condition deteriorates unexpectedly.