Background: Previous studies of paediatric cardiac arrest have reported a low survival rate but there is limited data from Australia. We sought to determine the characteristics and outcomes of paediatric out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Melbourne, Australia.
Methods: Between October 1999 and June 2007, all cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest attended by emergency medical services in Melbourne, Australia were entered into a database (the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry). Data on patients aged less than 16 years in cardiac arrest on arrival of ambulance paramedics was analysed.
Results: There were 209 children in cardiac arrest on arrival of paramedics during the study period. Of these, resuscitation was not attempted in 16 children due to signs of definite death. Of the 193 children who had attempted resuscitation, 143 (74%) had an initial cardiac rhythm of asystole, 36 (18%) were in pulseless electrical activity and 14 (7%) were in ventricular fibrillation. There were 49 patients (25%) with return of spontaneous circulation at arrival to hospital of whom 14 (7%) survived to hospital discharge. Of 138 patients without return of a circulation, 120 were transported to hospital with continuing resuscitation and one survived (0.9%). Survival was higher in patients with an initial cardiac rhythm of ventricular fibrillation (5/14; 35%) compared with other rhythms (10/179; 4%), OR 9.38, 95% CI 2.64-33.2.
Conclusions: Overall, 7.7% of paediatric patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive to leave hospital. Increased survival was seen if the initial cardiac rhythm was ventricular fibrillation. Survival was very rare (<1%) unless there was return of spontaneous circulation prior to hospital arrival.
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