Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic factors of patients admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) after drowning.
Methods: Retrospective observational study from January 1992 to December 2004 and prospective study from January 2005 to December 2015 were conducted in a tertiary children's hospital PICU. The data analyzed refer to the patient, event, type of resuscitation performed, and clinical situation after resuscitation and at arrival to the PICU; results of additional tests; and clinical evolution and neurological status at discharge from the PICU (categorized as death, severe encephalopathy, or normal). The considered potential prognostic factors were whether drowning was witnessed, the type of initial resuscitation, Glasgow Coma Scale score at admission, pupil status and reactivity, and pH.
Results: One hundred thirty-one patients were registered. Mortality was 16.7%, and 8.3% had significant neurological sequelae. The clearest factor associated with poor outcome was the type of initial resuscitation performed. All patients who did not require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or only basic CPR, had good outcomes; 96.3% of those who required advanced CPR with epinephrine administration had poor outcomes. Patients who needed advanced resuscitation with administration of epinephrine had lower temperature, Glasgow Coma Scale score, pH, and bicarbonate at admission and higher level of glucose. In this group, there was also a higher incidence of seizures, acute respiratory distress syndrome, hemodynamic compromise, and acute renal failure.
Conclusions: The need for advanced CPR with epinephrine administration on the scene predicts poor neurological outcome (severe encephalopathy or death) in drowned children.
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