Objective: To determine the epidemiology and aetiology of out-of-hospital paediatric cardiac arrest and the outcome of resuscitation and to apply the Utstein template for the paediatric cardiac arrest population.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: A middle-sized urban city (population 516,000) served by a single emergency medical services (EMS) system.
Patients: 79 consecutive paediatric (age under 16 years) prehospital cardiac arrest patients between January 1, 1985 and December 31, 1994. No patient was excluded.
Intervention: Advanced paediatric life support according to the recommendations of American Heart Association.
Main outcome measures: Survival from cardiac arrest to discharge and factors associated with favourable outcome defined as alive 1 year after discharge with Bloom category I or II.
Results: 79 patients had cardiac arrest. The incidence of paediatric out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and sudden unexpected out-of-hospital death was 9.8 and 8.9/100,000/inhabitants aged under 16, respectively. The mean age was 2.9 years, 72.2% were under 18 months. SIDS was the leading cause of cardiac arrest followed by trauma, airway related cardiac arrest and (near)drowning. Fifty-two patients were considered for resuscitation in whom asystole was the most common initial rhythm (78.9%) followed by pulseless electrical activity (13.5%) and ventricular fibrillation (3.8%). Resuscitation was attempted in 34 patients. The overall survival rate was 9.6%, for attempted resuscitation 14.7%, for attempted resuscitation when cardiac arrest was witnessed 25.0% and for attempted resuscitation with witnessed arrest of cardiac origin 0%. Favourable outcome was registered in four of five survivors. Factors associated with favourable outcome were collapse in a public place, the near-drowning aetiology of arrest, bystander initiated CPR and short duration of resuscitation. Multivariate regression analysis showed no factor related to favourable outcome, but MICU time interval < 10 min was related with survival. Due to the retrospective nature of this study all core times could not be obtained. In spite of this, the Utstein template was applicable also in our paediatric cardiac arrest population.
Conclusions: Survival from paediatric cardiac arrest has remained low. The overall survival rate was 9.6%, survival after attempted resuscitation 14.7% and 0% when resuscitation was attempted in witnessed arrest of cardiac origin. Asystole was the most common initial rhythm and the four leading causes for cardiac arrest were SIDS, trauma, airway related arrest and (near)drowning. The Utstein template adopted for adult out-of-hospital cardiac arrests was was found applicable also in paediatric cardiac arrests.