Impact of prehospital airway interventions on outcome in cardiac arrest following drowning: A study from the CARES Surveillance Group

Resuscitation. 2021 Jun:163:130-135. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2020.12.027. Epub 2021 Jan 19.


Introduction: Drowning results in more than 360,000 deaths annually, making it the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. Prior studies have examined airway interventions affecting patient outcomes in cardiac arrest, but less is known about drowning patients in arrest. This study evaluated the outcomes of drowning patients in the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) who received advanced airway management.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of the CARES database identified cases of drowning etiology between 2013 and 2018. Patients were stratified by airway intervention performed by EMS personnel. Demographics, sustained return of spontaneous circulation [ROSC], survival to hospital admission, survival to hospital discharge, and neurological outcomes were compared between airway groups using chi-squared tests and logistic regression.

Results: Among 2388 drowning patients, 70.4% were male, 41.8% white, and 13.1% survived to hospital discharge. Patients that received supraglottic airways [SGA] had statistically significantly lower odds of survival to hospital admission compared to endotracheal tube [ETT] use (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.56, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.42-0.76) as well as lower odds of survival to discharge compared to bag valve mask [BVM] use (aOR = 0.40, 95% CI 0.19-0.86) when accounting for relative ROSC timing.

Conclusion: In this national cohort of drowning patients in cardiac arrest, SGA use was associated with significantly lower odds of survival to hospital admission and discharge. However, survival to discharge with favorable neurological outcome did not differ significantly between airway management techniques. Further studies will need to examine if airway intervention order or time to intervention affects outcomes.

Keywords: Airway management; Basic airway management; Drowning; Emergency medical services; Laryngoscopy; Orotracheal intubation; Outcome; Return of spontaneous circulation.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Drowning*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / therapy
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies