Cardiac Arrest in Pregnancy

Today we discuss a topic that we hope you never encounter, but want every OB, EM, and really any other person or medical professional to be prepared for cardiac arrest in pregnancy. The American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Statement on Cardiac Arrest in Pregnancy can be found here and is essential companion reading.

(c) AHA

In preparation for a maternal cardiac event, a cesarean delivery kit should be available as part of the adult code cart. This at minimum should have a scalpel (#10 blade), betadine splash prep, clamps for cutting the umbilical cord, sponges, absorbable suture, and additional clamps and/or retractors if feasible. A neonatal resuscitation cart should accompany the adult cart if a maternal code is ongoing.

BLS is not different from standard for any other adult resuscitation, except for one key component: leftward displacement of the uterus. This allows for improved venous return to the right heart via the inferior vena cava, which may be compressed to some degree as early as 12 weeks gestation. Otherwise hand positioning, compression technique, and ventilation considerations in the BLS portion do not have any differences.

The ACLS algorithm also proceeds as usual, with the notable exception being performance of resuscitative hysterotomy (aka, peri-mortem cesarean section) at 4 minutes of pulseless arrest. This should be performed at any gestation above 20 weeks (i.e., fundal height at or above the umbilicus). It serves the dual purpose of improving maternal venous return, as well as protecting the fetus from consequences of prolonged anoxia.

Otherwise, ACLS algorithms use the same medications and doses, the same indications for shocks, and actually many times the same etiologies for arrest. However there are some pregnancy-specific considerations all physicians should recall, in a simple mnemonic:

(c) Society of Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology

Espresso: Treatment of Acute Hypertension in Pregnancy and Postpartum

Our second espresso episode focuses on the acute treatment of severe-range BPs in the pregnant and postpartum patient. More or less, we let the freshly released ACOG CO 767 speak for itself.

Below you’ll find the algorithms we describe in the podcast, which are present in ACOG CO 767. In addition to the below, always remember:

-Obtain IV access and labs (CBC, Creatinine, AST, ALT, urine protein:creatinine ratio) for any newly diagnosed patient with severe-range pressures.
-Avoid labetalol in patients with known asthma, as the beta-blockade effect can trigger respiratory issues, as well as those with CHF or pre-existing cardiac disease. Labetalol may also cause neonatal bradycardia due to beta-blockade.
-Immediate-release nifedipine should not be administered sublingually due to possibility of developing precipitous hypotension. Similarly, parenteral hydralazine may also cause precipitous maternal hypotension.
-IV magnesium sulfate should be given at a 4g or 6g bolus initially, followed by 2g/hr drip for the prevention of eclamptic seizures, if not previously given. Adjusted dosing may be required if renal insufficiency is noted on laboratories. Magnesium sulfate is not an antihypertensive agent.

Espresso: Medical Management of Postpartum Hemorrhage

Welcome to our first Espresso Episode! Just like an espresso, this should be a short, sweet, but highly caffeinated review of more familiar topics. These are intended for rapid-fire review — perfect for while you’re running up to that postpartum hemorrhage!

In today’s episode, we really just stick to the medication management for postpartum hemorrhage, though as anyone with experience with these might remember, there are a lot more components than just these medicines to make hemorrhage management successful. That said, an exam, bimanual massage, and uterotonic agents will resolve many of the cases you’ll see on the floor. More important for CREOGs are likely the dosing and side effects of these medicines, which we also review today. The ACOG PB 183 table on these medicines is also below for visual learners.

For when you have a bit more time to sit and breathe after the run up the stairs, check out ACOG PB 183 to review postpartum hemorrhage in full (ACOG membership required).