Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) followed by operating room sternotomy, rather than resuscitative thoracotomy, might be life-saving for patients with blunt cardiac rupture and cardiac arrest who do not have multiple severe traumatic injuries.
A 49-year-old man was injured in a vehicle crash and transferred to the emergency department. On admission, he was hemodynamically stable, but a plain chest radiograph revealed a widened mediastinum, and echocardiography revealed hemopericardium. A computed tomography scan revealed hemopericardium and mediastinal hematoma, without other severe traumatic injuries. However, the patient's pulse was lost soon after he was transferred to the intensive care unit, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated. We initiated ECPR using femorofemoral veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) with heparin administration, which achieved hemodynamic stability. He was transferred to the operating room for sternotomy and cardiac repair. Right ventricular rupture and pericardial sac laceration were identified intraoperatively, and cardiac repair was performed. After repairing the cardiac rupture, the cardiac output recovered spontaneously, and ECMO was discontinued intraoperatively. The patient recovered fully and was discharged from the hospital on postoperative day 7.
In this patient, ECPR rapidly restored brain perfusion and provided enough time to perform operating room sternotomy, allowing for good surgical exposure of the heart. Moreover, open cardiac massage was unnecessary. ECPR with sternotomy and cardiac repair is advisable for patients with blunt cardiac rupture and cardiac arrest who do not have severe multiple traumatic injuries.