Refractory Anaphylactic Shock Requiring Emergent Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation in the Emergency Department: A Case Report

Published:September 13, 2022DOI:


      Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a viable salvage intervention for patients who experience cardiopulmonary arrest or profound shock from any cause. Acute anaphylactic shock is a rare cause of cardiac arrest. We present a case of a 35-year-old male who experienced cardiac arrest owing to anaphylactic shock while receiving general anesthesia for a routine outpatient surgical procedure. Traditional advanced cardiac life support therapies were provided by paramedics en route to the emergency department of a suburban, community-based hospital. Maximal medical management including endotracheal intubation, intravenous steroids, intravenous crystalloid fluid administration, intravenous vasoactive medications, and high-quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation was provided. Although return of spontaneous circulation was achieved, profound cardiogenic shock persisted. Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was initiated by the emergency department provider and nursing team. The patient survived, was neurologically intact, had full recovery, and was discharged home several days later. We have extensive experience with venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and this case exemplifies the value of an established emergency department extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program in managing all causes of cardiac arrest or refractory shock.

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      Jese Joseph is an Advanced Clinician/Registered Nurse, Sharp Memorial Emergency Department, San Diego, CA. ORCID identifier: ENA ID: 1356959.


      Joseph Bellezzo is a Physician, Sharp Memorial Emergency Department, San Diego, CA. Twitter: @drbellezzo . ORCID identifier: