Article Text

Download PDFPDF
An evaluation of echo in life support (ELS): is it feasible? What does it add?
  1. C Hayhurst1,
  2. C Lebus1,
  3. P R Atkinson1,2,
  4. R Kendall1,
  5. R Madan1,
  6. J Talbot2,
  7. P Ross2,
  8. D Lewis3
  1. 1Emergency Department, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University, Saint John Regional Hospital, Saint John, Canada
  3. 3Emergency Department, Ipswich Hospitals NHS Trust, Heath Road, Ipswich, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul Atkinson, Department of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University, Saint John Regional Hospital, PO Box 2100, Saint John, NB E2L 4L2, Canada; Paul.Atkinson{at}


Background Emergency physicians were trained to perform echo in life support (ELS)—that is, limited transthoracic echocardiography during advanced life support (ALS) management of cardiac arrest.

Methods Data were collected on the adequacy of views obtained and timing of the scan, as well as the clinical findings of pericardial effusion and ventricular wall motion. Any intervention performed as a result of the scan was also noted. ELS was performed on 50 patients during cardiac arrest.

Results Adequate views were obtained in 47 (94%) scans, and 45 (90%) were obtained within the 10 s rhythm check. Twenty patients (40%) had ventricular wall motion (VWM), three (6%) had pericardial effusions and six patients (12%) had an intervention performed as a direct result of the scan. These included pericardiocentesis, thrombolysis and insertion of a chest drain. The presence of VWM had a positive predictive value of 55%. The absence of VWM resulted in a negative predictive value of 97% for predicting return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC).

Conclusion It is concluded that ELS is feasible and that the scan findings may guide further interventions.

  • Emergency departments
  • imaging
  • guidelines
  • nursing
  • paramedics
  • resuscitation
  • ultrasound

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests PA, RK and DL regularly teach on courses sponsored by Toshiba and Sonosite, and also run the educational website

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Cambridgeshire (1) Ethics Committee—approved as a clinical audit.

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