Introduction: Many patients who suffer cardiac arrest do not respond to standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation. There is growing interest in utilizing veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation assisted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (E-CPR) in the management of refractory cardiac arrest. We describe our preliminary experiences in establishing an E-CPR program for refractory cardiac arrest in Melbourne, Australia.
Methods: The CHEER trial (mechanical CPR, Hypothermia, ECMO and Early Reperfusion) is a single center, prospective, observational study conducted at The Alfred Hospital. The CHEER protocol was developed for selected patients with refractory in-hospital and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and involves mechanical CPR, rapid intravenous administration of 30 mL/kg of ice-cold saline to induce intra-arrest therapeutic hypothermia, percutaneous cannulation of the femoral artery and vein by two critical care physicians and commencement of veno-arterial ECMO. Subsequently, patients with suspected coronary artery occlusion are transferred to the cardiac catheterization laboratory for coronary angiography. Therapeutic hypothermia (33 °C) is maintained for 24h in the intensive care unit.
Results: There were 26 patients eligible for the CHEER protocol (11 with OHCA, 15 with IHCA). The median age was 52 (IQR 38-60) years. ECMO was established in 24 (92%), with a median time from collapse until initiation of ECMO of 56 (IQR 40-85) min. Percutaneous coronary intervention was performed on 11 (42%) and pulmonary embolectomy on 1 patient. Return of spontaneous circulation was achieved in 25 (96%) patients. Median duration of ECMO support was 2 (IQR 1-5) days, with 13/24 (54%) of patients successfully weaned from ECMO support. Survival to hospital discharge with full neurological recovery (CPC score 1) occurred in 14/26 (54%) patients.
Conclusions: A protocol including E-CPR instituted by critical care physicians for refractory cardiac arrest which includes mechanical CPR, peri-arrest therapeutic hypothermia and ECMO is feasible and associated with a relatively high survival rate.
Keywords: Cardiac arrest; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Resuscitation.
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