Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 69–72 | Cite as

Accidental hypothermia with cardiac arrest: Complete recovery after prolonged resuscitation and rewarming by extracorporeal circulation

  • P. Husby
  • K. S. Andersen
  • A. Owen-Falkenberg
  • E. Steien
  • J. Solheim
Case Report


A 51-year-old male remained immersed in sea water (6°C) for 40 min. Brought ashore, the ECG showed asystole. Advanced life support was immediately commenced. On arrival in hospital his rectal temperature was 27°C, but continued to fall to 24°C. The ECG remained isoelectric. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was continued until extracorporeal circulation was established 190 min after rescue. Upon rewarming ventricular fibrillation occurred which was converted to sinus rhythm with a bolus of lignocaine followed by D.C. conversion at 31.5°C. When rewarming was complete after 60 min, signs of severe heart failure became evident. Sternotomy and pericardiotomy were performed to exclude cardiac tamponade. After 60 min of re-perfusion the patient was be weaned from bypass supported by a high-dose vasopressor infusion and nitroglycerine. He was discharged after 13 days with no evidence of any permanent organ damage. Given the advantage of providing circulatory support, extracorporeal circulation may be useful when rewarming hypothermic victims with cardiac arrest.

Key words

Hypothermia Asystole Resuscitation Extracorporeal circulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Husby
    • 1
  • K. S. Andersen
    • 2
  • A. Owen-Falkenberg
    • 1
  • E. Steien
    • 1
  • J. Solheim
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular SurgeryUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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