BMJ Case Reports 2017; doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-220900
  • Unexpected outcome (positive or negative) including adverse drug reactions

Accidental hypothermic cardiac arrest and rapid mediastinal warming with pleural lavage: a survivor after 3.5 hours of manual CPR

  1. George Little
  1. Naas General Hospital, Naas, Kildare, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr George Little, george.little{at}
  • Accepted 7 July 2017
  • Published 27 July 2017


A 30-year-old man suffered post-traumatic hypothermic cardiac arrest. On arrival in the emergency department, rectal core temperature was 23°C. Manual cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was continued as no mechanical chest compression device was available, and active and passive rewarming was undertaken. Bilateral thoracostomies confirmed good lung inflation. Defibrillation and intravenous epinephrine were discontinued until core temperature was elevated above 30°C. Extracorporeal rewarming was unavailable. When no increase in rectal temperature was achieved after 90 min, an alternative oesophageal probe confirmed mediastinal temperature as 23°C. Bilateral chest drain insertion, followed by microwave-heated saline pleural lavage, rapidly raised the oesophageal temperature above 30°C with subsequent successful defibrillation, initially to pulseless electrical activity and finally return of spontaneous circulation 3.5 hours after the commencement of CPR. The patient recovered fully and was discharged without neurological deficit. Rapid mediastinal warming with pleural lavage should be considered in units with no access to extracorporeal rewarming service.


  • Contributors Sole author.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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