Non-traumatic cardiac arrest is a major public health problem that carries an extremely high mortality rate. If we hope to increase the survivability of this condition, it is imperative that alternative methods of treatment are given due consideration. Balloon occlusion of the aorta can be used as a method of circulatory support in the critically ill patient. Intra-aortic balloon pumps have been used to temporize patients in cardiogenic shock for decades. More recently, resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) has been utilized in the patient in hemorrhagic shock or cardiac arrest secondary to trauma. Aortic occlusion in non-traumatic cardiac arrest has the effect of reducing the vascular volume that the generated cardiac output is distributed across. This augments myocardial and cerebral perfusion, increasing the probability of a return to a good quality of life for the patient. This phenomenon has been the subject of numerous animal studies dating back to the early 1980s; however, the human evidence is limited to several small case series. Animal research has demonstrated improvements in cerebral and coronary perfusion pressure during ACLS that lead to statistically significant differences in mortality. Several case series in humans have replicated these findings, suggesting the efficacy of this procedure. The objectives of this review are to: 1) introduce the reader to REBOA 2) review the physiology of NTCA and examine the current limitations of traditional ACLS 3) summarize the literature regarding the efficacy and feasibility of aortic balloon occlusion to support traditional ACLS.
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