Tag Archives: ALS

Prehospital ECLS – it’s happening

Patients with refractory (>30 mins) cardiac arrest underwent prehospital cannulation for extracorporeal life support in a French feasibility study. A physician-paramedic team responded by car in Paris to cardiac arrest cases that met inclusion criteria. Mechanical CPR devices (Autopulse or LUCAS) were applied during cannulation. Femoral venoarterial ECMO was instituted using a Maquet Cardiohelp system. Blood products and inotropes, echocardiography, and hypothermia were included in the prehospital management package.

Seven patients were treated, with a mean age of 42 (+/- SD of 16, no median given). ECLS was started an average 57 min (±21) after the onset of ACLS. One patient survived to discharge neurologically intact. Two brain dead patients became organ donors. The survivor had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with refractory ventricular fibrillation.

Safety and feasibility of prehospital extra corporeal life support implementation by non-surgeons for out-of-hospital refractory cardiac arrest
Resuscitation. 2013 Nov;84(11):1525-9

BACKGROUND: Extra corporeal life support (ECLS) has been recently introduced in the treatment of refractory cardiac arrest (CA). Several studies have assessed the use of ECLS in refractory CA once the patients reach hospital. The time between CA and the implementation of ECLS is a major prognostic factor for survival. The main predictive factor for survival is ECLS access time. Pre hospital ECLS implementation could reduce access time. We therefore decided to assess the feasibility and safety of prehospital ECLS implementation (PH-ECLS) in a pilot study.

METHODS AND RESULTS: From January 2011 to January 2012, PH-ECLS implementation for refractory CA was performed in 7 patients by a PH-ECLS team including emergency and/or intensivist physicians and paramedics. Patients were included prospectively and consecutively if the following criteria were met: they had a witnessed CA; CPR was initiated within the first 5min of CA and/or there were signs of life during CPR; an PH-ECLS team was available and absence of severe comorbidities. ECLS flow was established in all patients. ECLS was started 22min (±6) after the incision, and 57min (±21) after the onset of advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS). In one patient, ECLS was stopped for 10min due to an accidental decannulation. One patient survived without sequelae. Three patients developed brain death.

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study suggests that PH-ECLS performed by non-surgeons is safe and feasible. Further studies are needed to confirm the time saved by this strategy and its potential effect on survival.

Family presence during resuscitation

CPR-iconFamilies allowed to be present during attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation had improved psychological outcomes at ninety days.

Adult family members of adult patients were studied in this randomized study from France.

Resuscitation team member stress levels and effectiveness of resuscitation did not appear to be affected by family presence.

Family Presence during Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
N Engl J Med. 2013 Mar 14;368(11):1008-18

BACKGROUND: The effect of family presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the family members themselves and the medical team remains controversial.

METHODS: We enrolled 570 relatives of patients who were in cardiac arrest and were given CPR by 15 prehospital emergency medical service units. The units were randomly assigned either to systematically offer the family member the opportunity to observe CPR (intervention group) or to follow standard practice regarding family presence (control group). The primary end point was the proportion of relatives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related symptoms on day 90. Secondary end points included the presence of anxiety and depression symptoms and the effect of family presence on medical efforts at resuscitation, the well-being of the health care team, and the occurrence of medicolegal claims.

RESULTS: In the intervention group, 211 of 266 relatives (79%) witnessed CPR, as compared with 131 of 304 relatives (43%) in the control group. In the intention-to-treat analysis, the frequency of PTSD-related symptoms was significantly higher in the control group than in the intervention group (adjusted odds ratio, 1.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2 to 2.5; P=0.004) and among family members who did not witness CPR than among those who did (adjusted odds ratio, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.5; P=0.02). Relatives who did not witness CPR had symptoms of anxiety and depression more frequently than those who did witness CPR. Family-witnessed CPR did not affect resuscitation characteristics, patient survival, or the level of emotional stress in the medical team and did not result in medicolegal claims.

CONCLUSIONS: Family presence during CPR was associated with positive results on psychological variables and did not interfere with medical efforts, increase stress in the health care team, or result in medicolegal conflicts.

Lateral chest thrusts for choking

An interesting animal study examined the techniques recommended in basic choking management algorithms for foreign body airway obstruction (chest and abdominal thrusts). In terms of the pressures generated, lateral chest thrusts were the most effective, although they are not recommended in current guidelines.

The technique described (on intubated pigs) was:

The animals were placed on the floor and on their side. The lower (dependent) side of the chest was braced by the ground and thrust was applied to the upper part of the upper side by two hands side by side with the higher one just below the axilla.

Interestingly – and I didn’t know this (although perhaps should have!) – the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) recommended lateral chest thrusts instead of abdominal thrusts for over 20 years.

While we should always exercise extreme caution in extrapolating animal studies to humans, this makes me want to consider lateral thrusts in the first aid (ie. no equipment) situation if other measures are failing.

Lateral versus anterior thoracic thrusts in the generation of airway pressure in anaesthetised pigs
Resuscitation. 2013 Apr;84(4):515-9

Objective Anterior chest thrusts (with the subject sitting or standing and thrusts applied to the lower sternum) are recommended by the Australian Resuscitation Council as part of the sequence for clearing upper airway obstruction by a foreign body. Lateral chest thrusts (with the victim lying on their side) are no longer recommended due to a lack of evidence. We compared anterior, lateral chest and abdominal thrusts in the generation of airway pressures using a suitable animal model.

Methods This was a repeated-measures, cross-over, clinical trial of eight anaesthetised, intubated, adult pigs. For each animal, ten trials of each technique were undertaken with the upper airway obstructed. A chest/abdominal pressure transducer, a pneumotachograph and an intra-oesophageal balloon catheter recorded chest/abdominal thrust, expiratory air flows, airway and intrapleural pressures, respectively.

Results The mean (SD) thrust pressures generated for the anterior, lateral and abdominal techniques were 120.9 (11.0), 135.2 (20.0), and 142.4 (27.3) cmH2O, respectively (p < 0.0001). The mean (SD) peak expiratory airway pressures were 6.5 (3.0), 18.0 (5.5) and 13.8 (6.7) cmH2O, respectively (p < 0.0001). The mean (SD) peak expiratory intrapleural pressures were 5.4 (2.7), 13.5 (6.2) and 10.3 (8.5) cmH2O, respectively (p < 0.0001). At autopsy, no rib, intra-abdominal or intra-thoracic injury was observed.

Conclusion Lateral chest and abdominal thrust techniques generated significantly greater airway and pleural pressures than the anterior thrust technique. We recommend further research to provide additional evidence that may inform management guidelines for clearing foreign body upper airway obstruction.

Traumatic cardiac arrest outcomes

simEver heard anyone spout dogma along the lines of: “it’s a traumatic cardiac arrest – resuscitation is futile as the outcome is hopeless: survival is close to zero per cent”?

I have. Less frequently in recent years, I’ll admit, but you still hear it spout forth from the anus of some muppet in the trauma team. Here’s some recent data to add to the existing literature that challenges the ‘zero per cent survival’ proponents. A Spanish study retrospectively analysed 167 traumatic cardiac arrests (TCAs). 6.6% achieved a complete neurological recovery (CNR), which increased to 9.4% if the first ambulance to arrive contained an advanced team including a physician. Rhythm and age were important: CNR was achieved in 36.4% of VFs, 7% of PEAs, and 2.7% of those in asystole; survival rate by age groups was 23.1% in children, 5.7% in adults, and 3.7% in the elderly.

Since traumatic arrest tends to affect a younger age group than medical arrests, the authors suggest:

Avoiding the potential decrease in life expectancy in this kind of patient justifies using medical resources to their utmost potential to achieve their survival

Since 2.7% of the asystolic patients achieved a CNR, the authors challenge the practice proposed by some authors that Advanced Life Support be withheld in TCA patients with asystole as the initial rhythm:

had that indication been followed, three of our patients who survived neurologically intact would have been declared dead on-scene.”

I’d like to know what interventions were making the difference in these patients. They describe what’s on offer as:

In our EMS, all TCA patients receive ALS on-scene, which includes intubation, intravenous access, fluid and drug therapy, point-of-care blood analysis, and procedures such as chest drain insertion, pericardiocentesis, or Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma ultrasonography to improve the treatment of the cause of the TCA.

It appears that crystalloids and colloids are their fluid therapy of choice; unlike many British and Australian physician-based prehospital services they made no mention of the administration of prehospital blood products.

Traumatic cardiac arrest: Should advanced life support be initiated?
J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Feb;74(2):634-8

BACKGROUND: Several studies recommend not initiating advanced life support in traumatic cardiac arrest (TCA), mainly owing to the poor prognosis in several series that have been published. This study aimed to analyze the survival of the TCA in our series and to determine which factors are more frequently associated with recovery of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and complete neurologic recovery (CNR).

METHODS: This is a cohort study (2006-2009) of treatment benefits.

RESULTS: A total of 167 TCAs were analyzed. ROSC was obtained in 49.1%, and 6.6% achieved a CNR. Survival rate by age groups was 23.1% in children, 5.7% in adults, and 3.7% in the elderly (p < 0.05). There was no significant difference in ROSC according to which type of ambulance arrived first, but if the advanced ambulance first, 9.41% achieved a CNR, whereas only 3.7% if the basic ambulance first. We found significant differences between the response time and survival with a CNR (response time was 6.9 minutes for those who achieved a CNR and 9.2 minutes for those who died). Of the patients, 67.5% were in asystole, 25.9% in pulseless electrical activity (PEA), and 6.6% in VF. ROSC was achieved in 90.9% of VFs, 60.5% of PEAs, and 40.2% of those in asystole (p < 0.05), and CNR was achieved in 36.4% of VFs, 7% of PEAs, and 2.7% of those in asystole (p < 0.05). The mean (SD) quantity of fluid replacement was greater in ROSC (1,188.8 [786.7] mL of crystalloids and 487.7 [688.9] mL of colloids) than in those without ROSC (890.4 [622.4] mL of crystalloids and 184.2 [359.3] mL of colloids) (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: In our series, 6.6% of the patients survived with a CNR. Our data allow us to state beyond any doubt that advanced life support should be initiated in TCA patients regardless of the initial rhythm, especially in children and those with VF or PEA as the initial rhythm and that a rapid response time and aggressive fluid replacement are the keys to the survival of these patients.

Advanced airways and worse outcomes in cardiac arrest

A new study demonstrates an association between advanced prehospital airway management and worse clinical outcomes in patients with cardiac arrest. Done in Japan, the numbers of patients included are staggering: this nationwide population-based cohort study included 658 829 adult patients. They found that CPR with advanced airway management (use of tracheal tubes and even supraglottic airways) was a significant predictor of poor neurological outcome compared with conventional bag-valve-mask ventilation.

Association of Prehospital Advanced Airway Management With Neurologic Outcome and Survival in Patients With Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest
JAMA 2013;309(3):257-66

Importance It is unclear whether advanced airway management such as endotracheal intubation or use of supraglottic airway devices in the prehospital setting improves outcomes following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) compared with conventional bag-valve-mask ventilation.

Objective To test the hypothesis that prehospital advanced airway management is associated with favorable outcome after adult OHCA.

Design, Setting, and Participants Prospective, nationwide, population-based study (All-Japan Utstein Registry) involving 649 654 consecutive adult patients in Japan who had an OHCA and in whom resuscitation was attempted by emergency responders with subsequent transport to medical institutions from January 2005 through December 2010.

Main Outcome Measures Favorable neurological outcome 1 month after an OHCA, defined as cerebral performance category 1 or 2.

Results Of the eligible 649 359 patients with OHCA, 367 837 (57%) underwent bag-valve-mask ventilation and 281 522 (43%) advanced airway management, including 41 972 (6%) with endotracheal intubation and 239 550 (37%) with use of supraglottic airways. In the full cohort, the advanced airway group incurred a lower rate of favorable neurological outcome compared with the bag-valve-mask group (1.1% vs 2.9%; odds ratio [OR], 0.38; 95% CI, 0.36-0.39). In multivariable logistic regression, advanced airway management had an OR for favorable neurological outcome of 0.38 (95% CI, 0.37-0.40) after adjusting for age, sex, etiology of arrest, first documented rhythm, witnessed status, type of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, use of public access automated external defibrillator, epinephrine administration, and time intervals. Similarly, the odds of neurologically favorable survival were significantly lower both for endotracheal intubation (adjusted OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.37-0.45) and for supraglottic airways (adjusted OR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.36-0.40). In a propensity score–matched cohort (357 228 patients), the adjusted odds of neurologically favorable survival were significantly lower both for endotracheal intubation (adjusted OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.37-0.55) and for use of supraglottic airways (adjusted OR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.33-0.39). Both endotracheal intubation and use of supraglottic airways were similarly associated with decreased odds of neurologically favorable survival.

Conclusion and Relevance Among adult patients with OHCA, any type of advanced airway management was independently associated with decreased odds of neurologically favorable survival compared with conventional bag-valve-mask ventilation.

Perimortem Caesarean Delivery: Late is Better than Not

“To date, approximately one-third of the women who die during pregnancy remain undelivered at the time of death”

Guidelines recommend cardiac arrest in pregnant women beyond 20 weeks gestation should be treated with perimortem caesarean delivery (PMCD) commenced within 4 minutes of arrest and completed within 5. These time intervals come from two papers, neither of which is current or used robust review methodology.

To address this, an up-to-date fairly comprehensive review was undertaken of published cases of maternal cardiac arrests occurring prior to delivery. The primary outcome measures were maternal and neonatal survival to hospital discharge and the relationship between PMCD and this outcome.

The Arrests

94 cases were included in the final analysis.Most pregnancies were singleton (90.4%, n = 85) with an average gestational age at the time of the arrest of 33 ± 7 weeks (median 35, range 10–42).

The most common causes of arrest were trauma, maternal cardiac problems, severe pre-eclampsia and amniotic fluid embolism, together comprising about 70% of arrests; two thirds occurred in hospital.

The Outcomes

Overall, return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was achieved more often than not (60.6%) and overall survival to hospital discharge was 54.3%

Only 57 cases (75%) reported the time from arrest to delivery; the average time was 16.6 ± 12.5 min (median 10, range 1–60), with only 4 cases making it under the advocated 4-min time limit.

Timing of PMCD and Maternal Survival

In cases undergoing PMCD the average time elapsing from arrest to PMCD was significantly different between surviving (27/57) and non-surviving (30/57) mothers [10.0 ± 7.2 min (median 9, range 1–37) and 22.6 ± 13.3 min (median 20, range 4–60) respectively (p < 0.001, 95%CI 6.9–18.2)].

Timing of PMCD and Neonatal Survival

Mean times to PMCD were 14±11min (median=10, range=1–47) and 22 ± 13 min (median = 20, range = 4–60) in neonatal survivors and non-survivors respectively (p=0.016)

In cases with PMCD which reported outcome, the overall neonatal survival rate was 63.6% (42/66).

“The 4-min time frame advocated for PMCD usually remains unmet yet neonatal survival is still likely if delivery occurs within 10 or even 15 min of arrest”

Both maternal & neonatal mortality were higher with prehospital arrest location.


The study may be limited by recall bias, under-reporting and publication bias, but provides a more comprehensive evidence base on which to base resuscitation recommendations. The authors provide a useful warning against becoming fixated with the recommended four minute window, which may lead teams to fail to attempt a potentially life-saving intervention:

“Fixation on specific time frames for PMCD may not be ideal. It may be more important to focus on event recognition and good overall performance…. It may be wise to advocate a short time frame for performance of PMCD in order to achieve better outcomes; however, blanket endorsement of an unrealistic time frame may well create a defeatist attitude when that time frame cannot be met.”

Maternal cardiac arrest and perimortem caesarean delivery: Evidence or expert-based?
Resuscitation. 2012 Oct;83(10):1191-200

AIM: To examine the outcomes of maternal cardiac arrest and the evidence for the 4-min time frame from arrest to perimortem caesarean delivery (PMCD) recommended in current resuscitation and obstetric guidelines.

DATA SOURCES AND METHODS: Review and data extraction from all reported maternal cardiac arrests occurring prior to delivery (1980-2010). Cases were included if they provided details regarding both the event and outcomes. Outcomes of arrest were assessed using survival, Cerebral Performance Category (CPC) and maternal/neonatal harm/benefit from PMCD. Outcome measures were maternal and neonatal survival.

RESULTS: Of 1594 manuscripts screened, 156 underwent full review. Data extracted from 80 relevant papers yielded 94 included cases. Maternal outcome: 54.3% (51/94) of mothers survived to hospital discharge, 78.4% (40/51) with a CPC of 1/2. PMCD was determined to have been beneficial to the mother in 31.7% of cases and was not harmful in any case. In-hospital arrest and PMCD within 10 min of arrest were associated with better maternal outcomes (ORs 5.17 and 7.42 respectively, p<0.05 both). Neonatal outcome: mean times from arrest to delivery were 14±11 min and 22±13 min in survivors and non-survivors respectively (receiver operating area under the curve 0.729). Neonatal survival was only associated with in-hospital maternal arrest (OR 13.0, p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment recommendations should include a low admission threshold to a highly monitored area for pregnant women with cardiorespiratory decompensation, good overall performance of resuscitation and delivery within 10 min of arrest. Cognitive dissonance may delay both situation recognition and the response to maternal collapse.

Echo for cardiac arrest outcome prediction

A meta-analysis of studies evaluation transthoracic echo as a means of predicting return of spontaneous circulation in cardiac arrest (ROSC) provides some likelihood ratios to what we already know: absence of sonographic cardiac activity means a very low chance of ROSC.

The authors report a pooled negative LR of 0.18 (95% CI = 0.10 to 0.31), and a positive likelihood ratio of 4.26 (95% CI = 2.63 to 6.92).

They conclude that focused transthoracic echo is a fairly effective (although not definitive) test for predicting death if no cardiac activity is noted during resuscitation, and recommend interpreting the echo in the light of the test characteristics and the clinical pre-test probability, as one should do for all imaging investigations:

“An elderly patient with an unwitnessed cardiac arrest already has very poor odds for survival. Confirmation of asystole on echo lowers those pretest odds by a factor of 5.6 and therefore might lead to termination of resuscitation. However, in the case of a 50-year-old rescued from drowning, detection of cardiac contractility on echo would increase his already fair odds of survival by a factor of 4.3, prompting continued aggressive resuscitation.”

Only five relatively small studies contributed to the findings. A more definitive answer to this question should be provided in the future by the multi-centre REASON 1 trial.

Objectives:  The objective was to determine if focused transthoracic echocardiography (echo) can be used during resuscitation to predict the outcome of cardiac arrest.

Methods:  A literature search of diagnostic accuracy studies was conducted using MEDLINE via PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases. A hand search of references was performed and experts in the field were contacted. Studies were included for further appraisal and analysis only if the selection criteria and reference standards were met. The eligible studies were appraised and scored by two independent reviewers using a modified quality assessment tool for diagnostic accuracy studies (QUADAS) to select the papers included in the meta-analysis.

Results:  The initial search returned 2,538 unique papers, 11 of which were determined to be relevant after screening criteria were applied by two independent researchers. One additional study was identified after the initial search, totaling 12 studies to be included in our final analysis. The total number of patients in these studies was 568, all of whom had echo during resuscitation efforts to determine the presence or absence of kinetic cardiac activity and were followed up to determine return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). Meta-analysis of the data showed that as a predictor of ROSC during cardiac arrest, echo had a pooled sensitivity of 91.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 84.6% to 96.1%), and specificity was 80.0% (95% CI = 76.1% to 83.6%). The positive likelihood ratio for ROSC was 4.26 (95% CI = 2.63 to 6.92), and negative likelihood ratio was 0.18 (95% CI = 0.10 to 0.31). Heterogeneity of the results (sensitivity) was nonsignificant (Cochran’s Q: χ(2) = 10.63, p = 0.16, and I(2) = 34.1%).

Conclusions:  Echocardiography performed during cardiac arrest that demonstrates an absence of cardiac activity harbors a significantly lower (but not zero) likelihood that a patient will experience ROSC. In selected patients with a higher likelihood of survival from cardiac arrest at presentation, based on established predictors of survival, echo should not be the sole basis for the decision to cease resuscitative efforts. Echo should continue to be used only as an adjunct to clinical assessment in predicting the outcome of resuscitation for cardiac arrest.

Bedside Focused Echocardiography as Predictor of Survival in Cardiac Arrest Patients: A Systematic Review
Acad Emerg Med. 2012 Oct;19(10):1119-1126

ECMO for paediatric cardiac arrest

The Taiwanese are at it again with their extracorporeal life support. This time, they report their outcomes in children who received ECMO for in-hospital cardiac arrest. Interestingly, the patients with pure cardiac causes of cardiac arrest had a survival rate similar to patients with non-cardiac causes.

PURPOSE: The study aims to describe 11 years of experience with extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) for in-hospital paediatric cardiac arrest in a university affiliated tertiary care hospital.

METHODS: Paediatric patients who received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) during active extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) at our centre from 1999 to 2009 were included in this retrospective study. The results from three different cohorts (1999-2001, 2002-2005 and 2006-2009) were compared. Survival rates and neurological outcomes were analysed. Favourable neurological outcome was defined as paediatric cerebral performance categories (PCPC) 1, 2 and 3.

RESULTS: We identified 54 ECPR events. The survival rate to hospital discharge was 46% (25/54), and 21 (84%) of the survivors had favourable neurological outcomes. The duration of CPR was 39±17 min in the survivors and 52±45 min in the non-survivors (p=NS). The patients with pure cardiac causes of cardiac arrest had a survival rate similar to patients with non-cardiac causes (47% (18/38) vs. 44% (7/16), p=NS). The non-survivors had higher serum lactate levels prior to ECPR (13.4±6.4 vs. 8.8±5.1 mmol/L, p<0.01) and more renal failure after ECPR (66% (19/29) vs. 20% (5/25), p<0.01). The patients resuscitated between 2006 and 2009 had shorter durations of CPR (34±13 vs. 78±76 min, p=0.032) and higher rates of survival (55% (16/29) vs. 0% (0/8), p=0.017) than those resuscitated between 1999 and 2002.

CONCLUSIONS: In our single-centre experience with ECPR for paediatric in-hospital cardiac arrest, the duration of CPR has become shorter and outcomes have improved in recent years. Higher pre-ECPR lactate levels and the presence of post-ECPR renal failure were associated with increased mortality. The presence of non-cardiac causes of cardiac arrest did not preclude successful ECPR outcomes. The duration of CPR was not significantly associated with poor outcomes in this study.

Eleven years of experience with extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation for paediatric patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest
Resuscitation. 2012 Jun;83(6):710-4

Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation

You have a patient in cardiac arrest who has had excellent resuscitation from the point of collapse, and who has treatable underlying pathology (eg. PE or STEMI). However you’re unable to get return of spontaneous circulation so you call it. Someone just died for whom the technology exists to save them. Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) supports heart and lung function by externally providing circulatory flow and gas exchange until the patient’s underlying cause of arrest is treated or recovers.

ECLS requires an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) circuit to be placed during the cardiac arrest resuscitation. This may sound like extreme stuff, but there have been some amazing saves with this technology, and large numbers of in-hospital and out-of-hospital arrest patients have been treated in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. ECMO has even been commenced in the field by prehospital emergency physicians.

An inspiring EMCrit podcast with Dr Joe Bellezzo described how this technology is applied at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. Bellezzo and colleagues have now published a series of their out-of-hospital arrest cases who received ECLS initiated by emergency physicians(1).

Coming back to the Japanese, a multicentre prospective cohort study of ECLS for out-of hospital cardiac arrest (the ‘SAVE-J’ study) selected patients with VF or pulseless VT in whom no ROSC was achieved with standard resuscitative measures. Their striking results mirror other ECLS studies and were published in abstract form in November 2011(2).

To me, the overwhelming take home messages from what I’ve seen and read on this are:

1. ECLS can provide dramatic saves with neurologically intact survival in cardiac arrest cases that otherwise would be dead.

2. The critical factor for successful clinical outcomes and avoidance of wasted resources and clinical futility is case selection. The underlying cause of arrest needs to be reversible (eg. myocarditis) or treatable (eg. STEMI) and good resuscitation needs to have been in place prior to ECLS.

3. In the right hospital with the right resuscitation team, it can be done.

1. Emergency physician-initiated extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Resuscitation. 2012 Aug;83(8):966-70

CONTEXT: Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) refers to emergent percutaneous veno-arterial cardiopulmonary bypass to stabilize and provide temporary support of patients who suffer cardiopulmonary arrest. Initiation of ECPR by emergency physicians with meaningful long-term patient survival has not been demonstrated.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether emergency physicians could successfully incorporate ECPR into the resuscitation of patients who present to the emergency department (ED) with cardiopulmonary collapse refractory to traditional resuscitative efforts.

DESIGN: A three-stage algorithm was developed for ED ECPR in patients meeting inclusion/exclusion criteria. We report a case series describing our experience with this algorithm over a 1-year period.

RESULTS: 42 patients presented to our ED with cardiopulmonary collapse over the 1-year study period. Of these, 18 patients met inclusion/exclusion criteria for the algorithm. 8 patients were admitted to the hospital after successful ED ECPR and 5 of those patients survived to hospital discharge neurologically intact. 10 patients were not started on bypass support because either their clinical conditions improved or resuscitative efforts were terminated.

CONCLUSION: Emergency physicians can successfully incorporate ED ECPR in the resuscitation of patients who suffer acute cardiopulmonary collapse. More studies are necessary to determine the true efficacy of this therapy.

2. Multicenter Non-Randomized Prospective Cohort Study of Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Out-of Hospital Cardiac Arrest: Study of Advanced Life Support for Ventricular Fibrillation with Extracorporeal Circulation in Japan (SAVE-J)
Circulation 2011; 124: A18132

Background: This study is aimed to examine the efficacy of extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) for patients in out-of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) with ventricular fibrillation (VF) or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT).

Method: The design of this study is a multicenter non-randomized prospective cohort study. Hypothesis is that the outcome of OHCA with VF or pulseless VT is similar between ECPR and conventional advanced life support (ALS). During from Oct. 2008 to Dec. 2010, forty six tertiary emergency hospitals were participated in this study. Patient inclusion criteria were 1) VF or pulseless VT on scene, 2) cardiac arrest on arrival at hospital, 3) within 45 minutes from a call to an arrival of hospital, and 4) non-ROSC by conventional ALS during 15 minutes after an arrival at hospital. Exclusion criteria were 1) age: 75 yr, 2) poor activities of daily livings, 3) non-cardiac verified cardiac arrest, and 4) hypothermia. According to the inclusion criteria, ECPR was adopted for OHCA in 26 hospitals (ECPR group) and conventional ALS was planned in 20 hospitals (non-ECPR group). Both groups (Intention-to-treat) were analyzed about the proportion of patients with favorable outcome (CPC1 or 2) assessed with the Glasgow-Pittsburgh Cerebral Performance and Overall Performance Categories at 1 month by chi square test and Fisher exact probability test.

Results: One hundred and eighty patients of ECPR group and 134 patients of non-ECPR group were enrolled. There was no difference between the background of ECPR group and non-ECPR group; Average age (56.0 VS 56.9), Witnessed (72.8% VS 75.4%), Lay-rescuer CPR (49.4% VS 45.5%), Acute coronary syndrome (65.6% VS 61.4%), Minutes from collapse to emergency department (26.8 VS 30.0). The favorable outcome rate in ECPR group (12.4%, 22 patients) was statistically higher than the rate in non-ECPR group (1.6%, two patients) (p<0.001).

Conclusion: Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation may improve the outcome of out-of hospital cardiac arrest with VF or pulseless VT without ROSC by conventional ALS during 15 minutes after an arrival at hospital.

Hypothermia after long down times

You receive a patient resuscitated from cardiac arrest to a perfusing rhythm in your emergency department. History suggests a long ‘down time’: There was a ten minute duration of ‘no-flow’ (time from collapse to the start of resuscitation attempts).

Would this make you more likely or less likely to initiate targeted temperature management (TTM) and cool the patient to the recommended 32-34 degrees?

A recent study supports the suggestion that a longer no-flow time is associated with greater odds of survival with TTM compared with no TTM, than patients with shorter no-flow times. In other words, cooling the patient is more likely to make a difference in the ‘long down time’ patient, even though the overall survival in that group is obviously less.

Aim Mild therapeutic hypothermia has shown to improve long-time survival as well as favorable functional outcome after cardiac arrest. Animal models suggest that ischemic durations beyond 8 min results in progressively worse neurologic deficits. Based on these considerations, it would be obvious that cardiac arrest survivors would benefit most from mild therapeutic hypothermia if they have reached a complete circulatory standstill of more than 8 min.

Methods In this retrospective cohort study we included cardiac arrest survivors of 18 years of age or older suffering a witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which remain comatose after restoration of spontaneous circulation. Data were collected from 1992 to 2010. We investigated the interaction of ‘no-flow’ time on the association between post arrest mild therapeutic hypothermia and good neurological outcome. ‘No-flow’ time was categorized into time quartiles (0, 1–2, 3–8, >8 min).

Results One thousand-two-hundred patients were analyzed. Hypothermia was induced in 598 patients. In spite of showing a statistically significant improvement in favorable neurologic outcome in all patients treated with mild therapeutic hypothermia (odds ratio [OR]: 1.49; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.14–1.93) this effect varies with ‘no-flow’ time. The effect is significant in patients with ‘no-flow’ times of more than 2 min (OR: 2.72; CI: 1.35–5.48) with the maximum benefit in those with ‘no-flow’ times beyond 8 min (OR: 6.15; CI: 2.23–16.99).

Conclusion The beneficial effect of mild therapeutic hypothermia increases with cumulative time of complete circulatory standstill in patients with witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

The beneficial effect of mild therapeutic hypothermia depends on the time of complete circulatory standstill in patients with cardiac arrest
Resuscitation. 2012 May;83(5):596-601