Introduction: Many consider attempted resuscitation for traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) futile. This study aims to describe the characteristics and profile of adult traumatic OHCA.
Methods: The Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry (VACAR) was used to identify all trauma related cases of OHCA in patients aged ≥16 years.
Results: Between 2000 and 2009, EMS attended 33,178 OHCAs of which 2187 (6.6%) had a traumatic aetiology. The median age (IQR) of traumatic OHCA cases was 36 (25-55) years and 1612 were male (77.5%). Bystander CPR was performed in 201 cases (10.2%) with median (IQR) EMS response time 8 (6-11)min. The first recorded rhythm by EMS was asystole seen in 1650 (75.4%), PEA in 294 (13.4%) cases and VF in 35 cases (1.6%). Cardiac output was present in 208 (9.5%) cases who subsequently had an EMS witnessed OHCA. EMS attempted resuscitation in 545 (24.9%) patients of whom 84 (15.4%) achieved ROSC and were transported, and 27 (5.1%) survived to hospital discharge; 107 were transported with CPR of whom 8 (7.4%) survived to hospital discharge. Where EMS attempted resuscitation in traumatic OHCAs, survival for VF was 11.8% (n=4), PEA 5.1% (n=10) and asystole 2.4% (n=3). In EMS witnessed traumatic OHCA, resuscitation was attempted in 175 cases (84.1%), 35 (16.8%) patients achieved sustained ROSC before transport of whom 5 (14%) survived to leave hospital and 60 (28.8%) were transported with CPR of whom 6 (10%) survived to leave hospital. Compared to OHCA cases with 'presumed cardiac' aetiology traumatic OHCAs were younger [median years (IQR): 36 (25-55) vs 74 (61-82)], had resuscitation attempted less (25% vs 48%), were less likely to have a shockable rhythm (1.6% vs 17.1%), were more likely to be witnessed (62.8% vs 38.1%) and were less likely to receive bystander CPR (10.2% vs 25.5%) (p<0.001, respectively). Multivariate logistic regression identified factors associated with EMS decision to attempt resuscitation. The odds ratio [OR (95% CI)] for 'presence of bystander CPR' was 5.94 (4.11-8.58) and for 'witnessed arrest' was 2.60 (1.86-3.63).
Conclusion: In this paramedic delivered EMS attempted resuscitation was not always futile in traumatic OHCA with a survival of 5.1%. The quality of survival needs further study.
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