Resuscitation in cardiac arrest following anesthetic accidents

Resuscitation in Cardiac Arrest Following Anesthetic Accidents

Cardiac arrest following an anesthetic accident is a rare, but serious, complication that can lead to significant or fatal outcomes. This report explores the anesthetic and resuscitation techniques used to reverse cardiac arrest following anesthetic-related events.

Cardiac arrest due to anesthetic-related complications is an infrequent, but serious adverse event. Anesthetists must be aware of the clinical presentation in order to adequately diagnose and manage potential complications. The American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) defines anesthetic-related cardiac arrest as an event resulting from "a subtle yet dangerous delay in the recognition or response to a hazardous situation."

Causes of Cardiac Arrest Following Anesthesia

The causes of cardiac arrest following anesthesia include:

  • Hypoventilation
  • Drug overdose
  • Increase in intracranial pressure
  • Hypothermia
  • Hypo- and hyperkalemia
  • Tension pneumothorax
  • Surgical and anesthesia-related errors

Treatment of Cardiac Arrest Following Anesthesia

The treatment of cardiac arrest following anesthesia begins with basic life support such as chest compressions, defibrillation, and positive pressure ventilation. However, due to the potential complexity of causes of cardiac arrest following anesthetic accidents, pharmacologic interventions may be necessary. There are several drugs that may be beneficial in the resuscitation of an anesthetic patient, including epinephrine, amiodarone, and calcium.

Epinephrine is a sympathomimetic agent that increases cardiac output and coronary perfusion pressure. It is used to assist in the resuscitation of patients with initial rhythm disturbances and those who remain in a shock state despite adequate fluid and inotropic therapy. Amiodarone is a class III antiarrhythmic drug that is used to manage ventricular and supraventricular tachyarrhythmias. Calcium is a positive inotropic agent and may be used to correct and prevent dysrhythmias.


Cardiac arrest following anesthetic accidents is a rare, but potentially fatal event. Early recognition is essential for successful patient outcomes. Anesthetists must be aware of the causes and treatments of cardiac arrest following anesthesia and must be prepared to implement appropriate resuscitation techniques in the event of an anesthetic-related complication.