Role of external cardiac compression in truncal trauma

J Trauma. 1982 Nov;22(11):934-6. doi: 10.1097/00005373-198211000-00008.


External cardiac compression (ECC) was originally developed for patients with nontraumatic cardiac conditions, but it is now used for a wide variety of emergency conditions. As an integral part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), ECC coupled with forced pulmonary ventilation may NOT be applicable to cases of cardiac arrest following penetrating and blunt thoracic and abdominal trauma. Review of 100 patients with penetrating or blunt truncal trauma who received CPR and ECC more than 3 minutes prehospital revealed NO survivors despite continued aggressive resuscitative efforts in 49 of the patients upon arrival at a trauma center. Major cardiovascular disruption was found at thoracotomy or autopsy in all patients. In another 12 patients receiving forced ventilation and prehospital ECC, air embolism to the coronary arteries was the cause of death. CPR by paramedics, physicians, nurses, or lay persons does not appear to be of value in patients who have sustained cardiac arrest from truncal trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / therapy*
  • Heart Arrest / therapy
  • Humans
  • Pressure
  • Resuscitation* / methods
  • Thoracic Injuries / therapy*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy
  • Wounds, Penetrating / therapy