Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the parturient

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2010 Jun;24(3):383-400. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2010.01.002. Epub 2010 Apr 24.


Cardiopulmonary arrest occurs in 1: 30 000 pregnancies. Although rare, optimal outcomes are dependent on the cause of the arrest, the rapid response team's understanding of the physiological effects of pregnancy on the resuscitative efforts and application of the latest principles of advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). Anaesthesia-related complications, secondary to difficult or failed intubation, and inability to oxygenate and ventilate can result in adverse outcomes for mother and baby. Experience in advanced airway management has been shown to decrease the incidence of brain death and maternal mortality. Awareness of lipid resuscitation of local anaesthetic toxicity is important. The effects of lipid resuscitation and its interference with ACLS medications are also important. Peri-mortem caesarean delivery of the foetus greater than 24 weeks' gestational age must be considered. Caesarean delivery should be performed no later than 4min after initial maternal cardiac arrest. A foetus delivered within 5min has the best chance of survival. Delivery of the baby helps in the maternal resuscitation efforts and recovery of circulation. Finally, the 2003 International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) and the 2005 American Heart Association (AHA) advocate the provision of mild therapeutic hypothermia to the survivors of cardiac arrest. This will improve the neurological outcomes by decreasing cerebral oxygen consumption, suppression of the radical reactions and reduction of intracellular acidosis and inhibition of excitatory neurotransmitters.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support / standards
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical / adverse effects
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / etiology
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Hospital Rapid Response Team*
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy / physiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / etiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / therapy*