A big white dot after CPR

Sushma Kola, Alexander D. Ginsburg, Laura Harper, Laura E. Walker, Sherri Braksick, Eelco F.M. Wijdicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Patients may remain comatose after the resumption of spontaneous circulation with cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A primary neurologic event may precede a cardiac standstill. Case report: We present a 33-year-old patient with successful resuscitation for pulseless electrical activity and a “normal computed tomography (CT) scan.” Further scrutiny showed a hyperdense basilar artery sign (‘big white dot’) that led to a CT angiogram confirming an embolus to the proximal basilar artery. His examination showed fixed and dilated midsize (mesencephalic) pupils and extensor posturing. Endovascular retrieval of the clot was successful, but there was a devastating ischemic injury to the brainstem. Conclusion: This case reminds us to consider neurologic causes of cardiac arrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Interventional
  • MRI
  • Neuroradiology
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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