Aim: To determine the characteristics of military traumatic cardiorespiratory arrest (TCRA), and to identify factors associated with successful resuscitation.
Methods: Data was collected prospectively for adult casualties suffering TCRA presenting to a military field hospital in Helmand Province, Afghanistan between 29 November 2009 and 13 June 2010.
Results: Data was available for 52 patients meeting the inclusion criteria. The mean age (range) was 25 (18-36) years. The principal mechanism of injury was improvised explosive device (IED) explosion, the lower limbs were the most common sites of injury and exsanguination was the most common cause of arrest. Fourteen (27%) patients exhibited ROSC and four (8%) survived to discharge. All survivors achieved a good neurological recovery by Glasgow Outcome Scale. Three survivors had arrested due to exsanguination and one had arrested due to pericardial tamponade. All survivors had arrested after commencing transport to hospital and the longest duration of arrest associated with survival was 24 min. All survivors demonstrated PEA rhythms on ECG during arrest. When performed, 6/24 patients had ultrasound evidence of cardiac activity during arrest; all six with cardiac activity subsequently exhibited ROSC and two survived to hospital discharge.
Conclusion: Overall rates of survival from military TCRA were similar to published civilian data, despite military TCRA victims presenting with high Injury Severity Scores and exsanguination due to blast and fragmentation injuries. Factors associated with successful resuscitation included arrest beginning after transport to hospital, the presence of electrical activity on ECG, and the presence of cardiac movement on ultrasound examination.
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