ECPR is a sophisticated treatment option which may improve outcomes in a selected patient population in refractory cardiac arrest.
The probability of surviving a cardiac arrest remains low. International resuscitation guidelines state that extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) may have a role in selected patients suffering refractory cardiac arrest. Identifying these patients is challenging. This project systematically reviewed the evidence comparing the outcomes of ECPR over conventional-CPR (CCPR), before examining resuscitation-specific parameters to assess which patients might benefit from ECPR.
Literature searches of studies comparing ECPR to CCPR and the clinical parameters of survivors of ECPR were performed. The primary outcome examined was survival at hospital discharge or 30 days. A secondary analysis examined the resuscitation parameters that may be associated with survival in patients who receive ECPR (no-flow and low-flow intervals, bystander-CPR, initial shockable cardiac rhythm, and witnessed cardiac arrest).
Seventeen of 948 examined studies were included. ECPR demonstrated improved survival (OR 0.40 (0.27–0.60)) and a better neurological outcome (OR 0.10 (0.04–0.27)) over CCPR during literature review and meta-analysis. Characteristics that were associated with improved survival in patients receiving ECPR included an initial shockable rhythm and a shorter low-flow time. Shorter no-flow, the presence of bystander-CPR and witnessed arrests were not characteristics that were associated with improved survival following meta-analysis, although the quality of input data was low. All data were non-randomised, and hence the potential for bias is high.
ECPR is a sophisticated treatment option which may improve outcomes in a selected patient population in refractory cardiac arrest. Further comparative research is needed clarify the role of this potential resuscitative therapy.
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