Paucity of neuroprognostic testing after cardiac arrest in the United States

Resuscitation. 2023 Jul:188:109762. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2023.109762. Epub 2023 Mar 15.


Background: Withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies for perceived poor neurological prognosis is the most common cause of death for patients hospitalized after resuscitation from cardiac arrest. Accurate neuroprognostication is challenging and high stakes, so guidelines recommend multimodality testing. We quantified the frequency and timing with which guideline recommended diagnostics were acquired prior to in-hospital death after cardiac arrest.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study using the Optum® deidentified Electronic Health Record dataset for 2010 to 2021. We included in-hospital decedents admitted after resuscitation from non-traumatic cardiac arrest. We quantified the number of decedents who underwent head computed tomographic imaging, electroencephalography, somatosensory evoked potentials, brain magnetic resonance imaging, or evaluation by a neurologist, as well as the timing of these tests.

Results: Of 34,585 included patients, median age was 66 [interquartile range 53 - 79] years and 13,609 (39%) were female. Median hospital length of stay was 0 days [0-1] days, and only 16% of deaths occurred on or after day three. Only 3,245 patients (9%) had at least one neurodiagnostic test acquired and only 1,708 (5%) were evaluated by a neurologist. The most common neurological diagnostic test to be obtained was CT imaging, acquired in 3,004 (9%) of the overall cohort. Only 852 patients (2%) of patients had at least two diagnostic modalities obtained.

Discussion: In this retrospective cohort, we found few patients hospitalized after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest underwent guideline-recommended prognostic testing. If validated in prospective cohorts with more granular clinical information, better guideline adherence and more frequent use of multimodality neuroprognostication offer an opportunity to improve quality of post-arrest care.

Keywords: Cardiac arrest; Outcomes; Prognostication.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest* / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology