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Early whole-body CT for treatment guidance in patients with return of spontaneous circulation after cardiac arrest



Non-traumatic cardiac arrest (CA) and return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are often associated with multiple pathologies. Expecting a high prevalence of important findings, a whole-body CT (WBCT) could be of relevance for therapy. The aim of this study is to investigate the feasibility and diagnostic yield of an early WBCT in this setting.


This single-center retrospective study included 100 consecutive patients (27 female; 73 male; mean age 68.5± 12.57 years) with non-traumatic, in- and out-of-hospital CA and ROSC following CPR, who underwent a contrast-enhanced WBCT within 6 h after ROSC over 12 months. CT findings were determined corresponding to anatomical region.


Early WBCT was successfully carried out in 100% of the patients with CA and ROSC after CPR. Acute pathologies were found not only in the chest but also in the head (15%) and the abdomen (6%). Early global brain edema (n = 12), acute stroke (n = 3), pulmonary embolism (n = 10), pneumothorax (26%), acute abdominal pathologies (n = 6), iatrogenic bleeding (4%), and CPR-related injuries (93%) were detected by CT right from the beginning of the post-cardiac arrest care.


An early WBCT is feasible and provides added diagnostic value for patients with ROSC after non-traumatic CA.

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Correspondence to S. Viniol.

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Viniol, S., Thomas, R.P., König, A.M. et al. Early whole-body CT for treatment guidance in patients with return of spontaneous circulation after cardiac arrest. Emerg Radiol 27, 23–29 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10140-019-01723-x

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  • Early whole-body CT
  • Cardiac arrest
  • ROSC
  • Emergency radiology