Chest compressions may be safe in arresting patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs)

Resuscitation. 2014 May;85(5):702-4. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Jan 26.


Introduction: The number of patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) is increasing each year. Despite a lack of evidence, many emergency medical systems and hospitals have recommended against performing chest compressions in these patients. This deviation from conventional resuscitation algorithms is secondary to concern that chest compressions could dislodge the LVAD.

Objective: To assess whether cannula dislodgment occurred in LVAD patients receiving chest compressions.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the outcomes of all LVAD patients who received chest compressions for cardiac arrest over a four year period in a large urban hospital. Eight cases were reviewed for both cannula integrity and outcomes.

Results: Using autopsy and adequate flow through device as proxy for intact inflow/outflow cannulas, none of the eight patients receiving chest compressions had cannula dislodgment. Four of the 8 patients had return of neurologic function.

Conclusions: In this small retrospective case series, standard chest compressions in patients with LVADs did not cause cannula dislodgment. More research is necessary to determine the utility of chest compressions in the LVAD population.

Keywords: Cardiac arrest; Chest compressions; LVAD; Left ventricular assist devices.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autopsy
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Heart Massage* / adverse effects
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome