Quantification of ventilation volumes produced by compressions during emergency department cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Am J Emerg Med. 2018 Sep;36(9):1640-1644. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2018.06.057. Epub 2018 Jun 30.


Background: Clinical investigations have shown improved outcomes with primary compression cardiopulmonary resuscitation strategies. It is unclear whether this is a result of passive ventilation via chest compressions, a low requirement for any ventilation during the early aspect of resuscitation or avoidance of inadvertent over-ventilation.

Objectives: To quantify whether chest compressions with guideline-compliant depth (>2 in) produce measurable and substantial ventilation volumes during emergency department resuscitation of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Methods: This was a prospective, convenience sampling of adult non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients receiving on-going cardiopulmonary resuscitation in an academic emergency department from June 1, 2011 to July 30, 2013. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation quality files were analyzed using R-Series defibrillator/monitors (ZOLL Medical) and ventilation data were measured using a Non-Invasive Cardiac Output monitor (Philips/Respironics, Wallingford, CT).

Results: cardiopulmonary resuscitation quality data were analyzed from 21 patients (17 males, median age 59). The median compression depth was 2.2 in (IQR = 1.9, 2.5) and the median chest compression fraction was 88.4% (IQR = 82.2, 94.1). We were able to discern 580 ventilations that occurred during compressions. The median passive tidal volume recorded during compressions was 7.5 ml (IQR 3.5, 12.6). While the highest volume recorded was 45.8 ml, 81% of the measured tidal volumes were <20 ml.

Conclusion: Ventilation volume measurements during emergency department cardiopulmonary resuscitation after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest suggest that chest compressions alone, even those meeting current guideline recommendations for depth, do not provide physiologically significant tidal volumes.

Keywords: CPR; Cardiac output; Emergency medicine; Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest; Respiration.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Heart Massage / standards
  • Heart Massage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / therapy
  • Prospective Studies