I wouldn’t regard myself as a total nihilist when it comes to cardiac arrest but I’m usually not on the optimistic side. I work in a typical inner city setting where outcomes from OOHCA are on the poor side. I suspect are numbers are polluted by the fact that our local EMS system only occasionally stops CPR on scene. We get a lot of patients transported with (manual) CPR in progress. Most of these patients have not responded to a substantial period of ACLS and are simply dead and typically I stop resus as soon as they arrive.
There are of course some very important exceptions to this, the people who we know have a more favourable outcomes: bystander CPR, short down times, reversible causes, VF/VT, younger age etc… These are the people where the mantra of maximally aggressive care goes into action. Thus there’s a stark contrast in my practice between the patients who appear to me to be obviously dead and don’t need ACLS – they need a death certificate – and the patients for whom ACLS is simply not enough, or at the very least it doesn’t account for the nuances needed in advanced critical care.
The FOAMed sphere is full of advanced resuscitation resources from some of the best resuscitationists in the world. That’s where I’ve learned most of my critical care.
All this is just an introduction to the LINC trial. It’s been out for a while and I’ve linked to some of the other FOAMed reviews out there but I figured I’d throw in my own two cent.
- industry sponsored RCT
- Sweden, Netherlands and UK
- excluded those with an inappropriate body size so we don’t know how many this will be applicable to
- the LUCAS protocol had a slightly different protocol with 3 mins v 2 mins. It has been suggested that was due to rescuer fatigue in the manual group. But either way it shows that the two groups were not treated the same. The mechanical group also got an extra DCC 90 secs after the LUCAS was put on.
- outcome was survival at 4 hrs which is a bit soft
- CPC outcome was done from the notes which is open to some biases
- those with ROSC got hypothermia for all rhythms though I don’t think this was pre hospital
- they assumed a 25% 4 hr survival which seems a touch high but then they weren’t measuring good neuro survival here as a primary outcomes
- 2500 pts 30% VF/VT
- 23% survival for both groups
- in those that survived there was about a 35% PCI rate.
- 8% surviving to hospital discharge with good outcome (CPC 1&2)
- it is interesting to note that you either died or you did well. There weren’t many survivors with bad outcomes. Which is perhaps the most important finding of the whole study. They were virtually all CPC 1. It may be that when a poor outcome was anticipated (say at day 3 post arrest) then aggressive treatment was withdrawn and the patient succumbed.
This is a remarkably negative study from a strictly EBM point of view. So any routine (ie for every single cardiac arrest) use is hard to justify given the cost of implementing this device in all EDs and all EMS crews.
Good, coordinated, team CPR is hard to do well and like most things you only get really good at it when you practice. A lot. Like most EDs I’ve worked in we don’t practice, we do our ACLS courses but we don’t practice as a group to deal with all the small logistic factors that turn a straightforward resus into a chicken bomb. We use the LUCAS in certain cases - the exceptions where I think continuing CPR will allow an intervention or produce a positive outcome – an every time I do I’ve noticed a better atmosphere in the room. As the team leader (as well as the interventionalist – it’s usually just me and my nurses and some very junior docs who can’t even put an IO in) it allows me a bit more cognitive space as I don’t need to keep an eye to monitor the rate and quality of the CPR.
If ECLS becomes a mainstream possibility (which in this country seems unlikely) then mechanical CPR is likely to have even more of a role. The key is of course patient selection. The heart too good to die is fairly rare. For most patients I look after, cardiac arrest is the natural course of age and massive comorbidity.
The logistic factors that give you an advantage (freeing up hands and cognitive space) for those long and infrequent resus cases that makes me glad that we still have one in the resus room.
Hallstrom Al, Rea TD, Sayre MR, Christenson J, Anton AR, Mosesso VN, et al. Manual Chest Compression vs Use of an Automated Chest Compression Device During Resuscitation Following Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Randomized Trial. JAMA. American Medical Association; 2006 Jun 14;295(22):2620–8.
Rubertsson S, Lindgren E, Smekal D, Östlund O, Silfverstolpe J, Lichtveld RA, et al. Mechanical Chest Compressions and Simultaneous Defibrillation vs Conventional Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest. JAMA. 2013 Nov 17.
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