ECPR protocol increases cardiac arrest survival rate from 0 to 40%

Columbus-based The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center partnered with the Columbus Division of Fire to develop a new CPR protocol — an effort that has increased cardiac arrest patients' survival rates from zero to nearly 40 percent.

EMS personnel initiate the protocol, called extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation, if they are unable to restore a patient's normal rhythm after shocking their heart three times. The emergency personnel alert the hospital and connect the patient to a device that automatically delivers CPR, which preserves their brain and organ function on the way to the hospital.

Patients bypass the emergency room and are connected to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine in the hospital's heart catheterization lab, which allows the patient's heart and lungs to rest while physicians perform a heart catheterization.

"It's astounding that patients are able to fully recover and walk out of the hospital when they would have been pronounced dead in the field before this protocol was in place," said K. Dean Boudoulas, MD, a cardiologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at OSU Wexner.

With positive results from this and other pilot studies, OSU Wexner experts aim to make the protocol a standard treatment method for cardiac arrests.

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