JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY

Outcomes of in-hospital ventricular fibrillation in children

Ricardo A Samson, Vinay M Nadkarni, Peter A Meaney, Scott M Carey, Marc D Berg, Robert A Berg
New England Journal of Medicine 2006 June 1, 354 (22): 2328-39
16738269

BACKGROUND: Ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia are less common causes of cardiac arrest in children than in adults. These tachyarrhythmias can also begin during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), presumably as reperfusion arrhythmias. We determined whether the outcome is better for initial than for subsequent ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia.

METHODS: All cardiac arrests in persons under 18 years of age were identified from a large, multicenter, in-hospital cardiac-arrest registry. The results from children with initial ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia, children in whom ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia developed during CPR, and children with no ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia were compared by chi-square and multivariable logistic-regression analysis.

RESULTS: Of 1005 index patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest, 272 (27 percent) had documented ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia during the arrest. In 104 patients (10 percent), ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia was the initial pulseless rhythm; in 149 patients (15 percent), it developed during the arrest. The time of initiation of ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia was not documented in 19 patients. Thirty-five percent of patients with initial ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia survived to hospital discharge, as compared with 11 percent of patients with subsequent ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia (odds ratio, 2.6; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 5.8). Twenty-seven percent of patients with no ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia survived to hospital discharge, as compared with 11 percent of patients with subsequent ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia (odds ratio, 3.8; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.8 to 7.6).

CONCLUSIONS: In pediatric patients with in-hospital cardiac arrests, survival outcomes were highest among patients in whom ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia was present initially than among those in whom it developed subsequently. The outcomes for patients with subsequent ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia were substantially worse than those for patients with asystole or pulseless electrical activity.

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