Background: Cardiac arrest (CA) due to pulmonary embolism (PE) is associated with low survival rates and poor neurological outcomes. We examined whether Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (ECPR) improves the outcomes of patients who suffer from CA due to massive PE. Methods: We retrospectively included 39 CA patients with proven or strongly suspected PE in two hospitals in the Netherlands, in a ‘before/after’- design. 20 of these patients were treated with Conventional Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CCPR) and 19 patients with ECPR. Results: The main outcomes of this study were ICU survival and favourable neurological outcome, defined as Cerebral Performance Category (CPC) score 1–2. The ICU survival rate in CCPR patients was 5% compared to 26% in ECPR patients (p<0.01). Survival with favourable neurological outcome was present in 0/20 (0%) CCPR patients compared to 4/19 (21%) of the ECPR patients (p<0.05). Conclusion: ECPR seems a promising treatment for cardiac arrest patients due to (suspected) massive pulmonary embolism compared to conventional CPR, though outcomes remain poor.

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Journal Resuscitation
Mandigers, L., Scholten, E.T, Rietdijk, W.J.R, den Uil, C.A, van Thiel, R.J, Rigter, S., … dos Reis Miranda, D. (2019). Survival and neurological outcome with extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation for refractory cardiac arrest caused by massive pulmonary embolism: A two center observational study. Resuscitation, 136, 8–13. doi:10.1016/j.resuscitation.2018.12.008