Ruptured AAA

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne from McGill University. Dr. Kuuskne is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident and one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases.

Why it Matters

Rupture is the most common and critical complication of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). It usually occurs into the retroperitoneum where bleeding may be temporarily limited and allows an opportunity to intervene. This case highlights three important aspects of managing a patient with a AAA rupture.

  • The use of a targeted ultrasound protocol in undifferentiated shock.
  • The concept of permissive hypotension in the treatment of a critical hemorrhage.
  • Rapid stabilization with blood products and organization for the transfer of a critically ill patient to the operating room.

Clinical Vignette 

You are working an evening shift at a tertiary care emergency department. You receive a call from a paramedic to alert you to the arrival of a 70-year old male who had a syncopal episode and was then found to be obtunded by his daughter. The patient is now in the resuscitation bay.

Case Summary

A 70-year-old male presents to the emergency department after a syncopal episode and then found to be obtunded by his daughter. He is hypotensive and tachycardic on arrival secondary to a AAA rupture into the retroperitoneal space. He requires intubation and fluid resuscitation with blood products to avoid a PEA arrest secondary to hypovolemia.

Download the case here: Ruptured AAA

ECG for case found here: 

Preintubation CXR for case found here: 


Postintubation CXR for case found here: 

Ultrasounds for case found here:

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