Managing cardiac arrest with refractory ventricular fibrillation in the emergency department: Conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation versus extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Fu-Yuan Siao, Chun-Chieh Chiu, Chun-Wen Chiu, Ying-Chen Chen, Yao-Li Chen, Yung-Kun Hsieh, Chien-Hui Lee, Chang-Te Wu, Chu-Chung Chou, Hsu-Heng Yen
Resuscitation 2015, 92: 70-6

AIM: Refractory ventricular fibrillation, resistant to conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), is a life threatening rhythm encountered in the emergency department. Although previous reports suggest the use of extracorporeal CPR can improve the clinical outcomes in patients with prolonged cardiac arrest, the effectiveness of this novel strategy for refractory ventricular fibrillation is not known. We aimed to compare the clinical outcomes of patients with refractory ventricular fibrillation managed with conventional CPR or extracorporeal CPR in our institution.

METHOD: This is a retrospective chart review study from an emergency department in a tertiary referral medical center. We identified 209 patients presenting with cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation between September 2011 and September 2013. Of these, 60 patients were enrolled with ventricular fibrillation refractory to resuscitation for more than 10 min. The clinical outcome of patients with ventricular fibrillation received either conventional CPR, including defibrillation, chest compression, and resuscitative medication (C-CPR, n = 40) or CPR plus extracorporeal CPR (E-CPR, n = 20) were compared.

RESULTS: The overall survival rate was 35%, and 18.3% of patients were discharged with good neurological function. The mean duration of CPR was longer in the E-CPR group than in the C-CPR group (69.90 ± 49.6 min vs 34.3 ± 17.7 min, p = 0.0001). Patients receiving E-CPR had significantly higher rates of sustained return of spontaneous circulation (95.0% vs 47.5%, p = 0.0009), and good neurological function at discharge (40.0% vs 7.5%, p = 0.0067). The survival rate in the E-CPR group was higher (50% vs 27.5%, p = 0.1512) at discharge and (50% vs 20%, p = 0. 0998) at 1 year after discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: The management of refractory ventricular fibrillation in the emergency department remains challenging, as evidenced by an overall survival rate of 35% in this study. Patients with refractory ventricular fibrillation receiving E-CPR had a trend toward higher survival rates and significantly improved neurological outcomes than those receiving C-CPR.

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