3 years ago

A Cryptic Cause of Cardiac Arrest

Tanya Mokhateb-rafii, Martin Bialer, Shaun Rodgers, Christine Moore, Todd Sweberg

Publication date: Available online 9 November 2018

Source: The Journal of Emergency Medicine

Author(s): Tanya Mokhateb-Rafii, Martin Bialer, Shaun Rodgers, Christine Moore, Todd Sweberg


RIPPLY2-associated spondylocostal dysostosis is a rare disorder that leads to segmentation defects of the vertebrae. These vertebral defects can result in severe instability of the cervical spine, leading to cardiac arrest after only minor whiplash injury.

Case Report

We present the case of a healthy 7-year-old child who experienced an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. He was reported to have profound respiratory distress and collapsed after going down a slide, without trauma. He was resuscitated in the field, and presented to the emergency department, where return of spontaneous circulation was achieved. Imaging of his cervical spine revealed multiple abnormalities. It was determined that a whiplash injury led to hypoxia and bradycardia due to the anatomic abnormalities of his cervical spine, resulting in cardiovascular collapse. He recovered fully and was later diagnosed with SCDO6, an autosomal recessive inherited disorder caused by a mutation in the RIPPLY2 gene.

Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?

Unfamiliarity of providers with this mechanism of cardiac arrest, and the rarity of the syndrome itself, make early recognition very difficult. Late diagnosis and lack of preventative measures, including immediate cervical spine stabilization, can lead to catastrophic outcomes. In patients with cardiac arrest of unclear etiology, early consideration of cervical spine immobilization and evaluation can be lifesaving.

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