Sudden Cardiac Arrest Under Spinal Anesthesia in a Mission Hospital

A Case Report and Review of the Literature

Bamidele Johnson Alegbeleye


J Med Case Reports. 2018;12(144) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Sudden cardiac arrest following spinal anesthesia is relatively uncommon and a matter of grave concern for any anesthesiologist as well as clinicians in general. There have been, however, several reports of such cases in the literature. Careful patient selection, appropriate dosing of the local anesthetic, volume loading, close monitoring, and prompt intervention at the first sign of cardiovascular instability should improve outcomes. The rarity of occurrence and clinical curiosity of this entity suggest reporting of this unusual and possibly avoidable clinical event.

Case presentation: We report the occurrence of unanticipated delayed cardiac arrest following spinal anesthesia in a 25-year-old Cameroonian man. Incidentally, the index patient was successfully resuscitated with timely and appropriate cardiopulmonary resuscitative measures. He went ahead to have emergency open appendectomy with good post-operative outcome and recovery.

Conclusions: The management of such cardiac arrest under spinal anesthesia is very challenging in resource-limited settings such as ours. Anesthetists and clinicians need to be well informed of this grave complication. A good understanding of the physiologic changes caused by spinal anesthesia and its complications, adequate patient selection, respecting the contraindications of the procedure, adequate monitoring, and constant vigilance are of paramount importance to the eventual outcome.