Associations Between End-Tidal Carbon Dioxide During Pediatric Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Quality, and Survival

Circulation. 2024 Jan 30;149(5):367-378. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.123.066659. Epub 2023 Nov 6.


Background: Supported by laboratory and clinical investigations of adult cardiopulmonary arrest, resuscitation guidelines recommend monitoring end-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2) as an indicator of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) quality, but they note that "specific values to guide therapy have not been established in children."

Methods: This prospective observational cohort study was a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-funded ancillary study of children in the ICU-RESUS trial (Intensive Care Unit-Resuscitation Project; NCT02837497). Hospitalized children (≤18 years of age and ≥37 weeks postgestational age) who received chest compressions of any duration for cardiopulmonary arrest, had an endotracheal or tracheostomy tube at the start of CPR, and evaluable intra-arrest ETCO2 data were included. The primary exposure was event-level average ETCO2 during the first 10 minutes of CPR (dichotomized as ≥20 mm Hg versus <20 mm Hg on the basis of adult literature). The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge. Secondary outcomes were sustained return of spontaneous circulation, survival to discharge with favorable neurological outcome, and new morbidity among survivors. Poisson regression measured associations between ETCO2 and outcomes as well as the association between ETCO2 and other CPR characteristics: (1) invasively measured systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and (2) CPR quality and chest compression mechanics metrics (ie, time to CPR start; chest compression rate, depth, and fraction; ventilation rate).

Results: Among 234 included patients, 133 (57%) had an event-level average ETCO2 ≥20 mm Hg. After controlling for a priori covariates, average ETCO2 ≥20 mm Hg was associated with a higher incidence of survival to hospital discharge (86/133 [65%] versus 48/101 [48%]; adjusted relative risk, 1.33 [95% CI, 1.04-1.69]; P=0.023) and return of spontaneous circulation (95/133 [71%] versus 59/101 [58%]; adjusted relative risk, 1.22 [95% CI, 1.00-1.49]; P=0.046) compared with lower values. ETCO2 ≥20 mm Hg was not associated with survival with favorable neurological outcome or new morbidity among survivors. Average 2 ≥20 mm Hg was associated with higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures during CPR, lower CPR ventilation rates, and briefer pre-CPR arrest durations compared with lower values. Chest compression rate, depth, and fraction did not differ between ETCO2 groups.

Conclusions: In this multicenter study of children with in-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest, ETCO2 ≥20 mm Hg was associated with better outcomes and higher intra-arrest blood pressures, but not with chest compression quality metrics.

Keywords: carbon dioxide; cardiopulmonary resuscitation; heart arrest; intensive care units, pediatric.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Child
  • Heart Arrest*
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge
  • Prospective Studies


  • Carbon Dioxide

Associated data