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Emergency Medical Minute


Dec 29, 2021


Contributor: Aaron Lessen, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Pulse checks are necessary during CPR to check for return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC)
  • Previous studies have shown that assessing ROSC with palpating for pulse are not a very consistent
  • Study compared palpating pulses at carotid/femoral artery versus a newly contrived gold standard for pulse checks
  • The gold standard used was an increase in end tidal CO2 + cardiac activity on ultrasound + perfusing rhythm on ECG
  • Carotid artery palpation was the best location to confirm pulse during pulse check, although femoral artery palpation
    • Carotid artery palpation was 92% accurate versus 82% accuracy with femoral pulse check
  • Regardless of chosen site, remember 10 seconds is the maximum amount of time for a pulse check before resuming CPR


Yılmaz G, Bol O. Comparison of femoral and carotid arteries in terms of pulse check in cardiopulmonary resuscitation: A prospective observational study. Resuscitation. 2021;162:56-62. doi:10.1016/j.resuscitation.2021.01.042

Summarized by John Spartz, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD


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