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Hospital-administered ECPR for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: an observational cohort study


Background Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) is a treatment method for refractory out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) requiring a complex chain of care.

Methods All cases of OHCA between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2021 in the Helsinki University Hospital catchment area in which the ECPR protocol was activated were included in the study. The protocol involved patient transport from the emergency site with ongoing mechanical cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) directly to the cardiac catheterisation laboratory where the implementation of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) was considered. Cases of hypothermic cardiac arrest were excluded. The main outcomes were the number of ECPR protocol activations, duration of prehospital and in-hospital time intervals, and whether the ECPR candidates were treated using ECMO or not.

Results The prehospital ECPR protocol was activated in 73 cases of normothermic OHCA. The mean patient age (SD) was 54 (±11) years and 67 (91.8%) of them were male. The arrest was witnessed in 67 (91.8%) and initial rhythm was shockable in 61 (83.6%) cases. The median ambulance response time (IQR) was 9 (7–11) min. All patients received mechanical CPR, epinephrine and/or amiodarone. Seventy (95.9%) patients were endotracheally intubated. The median (IQR) highest prehospital end-tidal CO2 was 5.5 (4.0–6.9) kPa.

A total of 37 (50.7%) patients were treated with venoarterial ECMO within a median (IQR) of 84 (71–105) min after the arrest. Thirteen (35.1%) of them survived to discharge and 11 (29.7%) with a cerebral performance category (CPC) 1–2. In those ECPR candidates who did not receive ECMO, 8 (22.2%) received permanent return of spontaneuous circulation during transport or immediately after hospital arrival and 6 (16.7%) survived to discharge with a CPC 1–2.

Conclusions Half of the ECPR protocol activations did not lead to ECMO treatment. However, every fourth ECPR candidate and every third patient who received ECMO-facilitated resuscitation at the hospital survived with a good neurological outcome.

  • heart arrest
  • emergency ambulance systems
  • acute coronary syndrome
  • doctors in PHC

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.

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