New CT scanning method may improve heart massage

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New CT scanning method may improve heart massage

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | August 07, 2020 Cardiology CT X-Ray
Rapid first aid during cardiac arrest makes the difference between life and death. But what happens to the heart and the internal organs when people come running and begin to give well-meaning but heavy-handed heart massage as they attempt to keep the person who has suffered a cardiac arrest alive?

A research collaboration between the Department of Forensic Medicine at Aarhus University, Denmark, and the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit at the University of Leicester in the UK now offers an answer to this question.

Using a new CT scanning method, the researchers show how the chest and abdominal region of a deceased person move during simulated heart massage.


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"Specifically, we've simulated heart massage by compressing the chest of a deceased person in a controlled manner in precisely the same way as would happen with heart massage. Though with the difference that this was done gradually and in slow motion while the whole process was CT scanned at the same time," explains Kasper Hansen, assistant professor at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Aarhus University and the lead author of the study, which has been published in the scientific journal Resuscitation.

The method can be compared with a stop motion video production, but where each image in the video has been replaced by a complete 3D CT scan. The method reproduces the organs movements during heart massage in a very detailed way and makes it possible to perform advanced imaging analysis on the volumetric dynamic CT dataset.

According to the Danish Heart Foundation, in Denmark 5,400 people suffer cardiac arrest outside of the hospitals every year, with approx. 16 per cent of them surviving. Although more people than previously survive thanks to stronger efforts in general resuscitation training and improved rehabilitation, there is still room for improvement in resuscitation techniques and procedures. Kasper Hansen hopes that this is where the new CT scanning method will prove useful.

"The goal of heart massage is blood circulation, but we don't know enough about how the blood is pumped onwards, and why certain characteristic heart massage injuries such as lesions on the internal organs occur," he says.

"There are many unknowns in connection with resuscitation. The new technique makes it possible to examine different aspects of heart massage. Using the method allows us to directly study the organ movements, and may help to clarify the basis for important physiological mechanisms. Because the scans have been carried out on a deceased person, it hasn't been possible to measure the blood flow directly. However, the method clearly demonstrates how, for example, the heart is affected during heart massage, and we can therefore gain a better understanding of the critical mechanisms during heart massage," says Kasper Hansen.

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