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The Right Ventricle Is Dilated During Resuscitation From Cardiac Arrest Caused by Hypovolemia: A Porcine Ultrasound Study*

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Dilation of the right ventricle during cardiac arrest and resuscitation may be inherent to cardiac arrest rather than being associated with certain causes of arrest such as pulmonary embolism. This study aimed to compare right ventricle diameter during resuscitation from cardiac arrest caused by hypovolemia, hyperkalemia, or primary arrhythmia (i.e., ventricular fibrillation).


Thirty pigs were anesthetized and then randomized to cardiac arrest induced by three diffrent methods. Seven minutes of untreated arrest was followed by resuscitation. Cardiac ultrasonographic images were obtained during induction of cardiac arrest, untreated cardiac arrest, and resuscitation. The right ventricle diameter was measured. Primary endpoint was the right ventricular diameter at the third rhythm analysis.


University hospital animal laboratory.


Female crossbred Landrace/Yorkshire/Duroc pigs (27–32 kg).


Pigs were randomly assigned to cardiac arrest caused by either hypovolemia, hyperkalemia, or primary arrhythmia.

Measurements and Main Results:

At the third rhythm analysis during resuscitation, the right ventricle diameter was 32 mm (95% CI, 29–35) in the hypovolemia group, 29 mm (95% CI, 26–32) in the hyperkalemia group, and 25 mm (95% CI, 22–28) in the primary arrhythmia group. This was larger than baseline for all groups (p = 0.03). When comparing groups at the third rhythm analysis, the right ventricle was larger for hypovolemia than for primary arrhythmia (p < 0.001).


The right ventricle was dilated during resuscitation from cardiac arrest caused by hypovolemia, hyperkalemia, and primary arrhythmia. These findings indicate that right ventricle dilation may be inherent to cardiac arrest, rather than being associated with certain causes of arrest. This contradicts a widespread clinical assumption that in hypovolemic cardiac arrest, the ventricles are collapsed rather than dilated.
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Keywords: arrhythmias, cardiac; echocardiography; heart arrest; hyperkalemia; hypovolemia; ultrasonography

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2017

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