-To discuss current thoughts and techniques in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Cardiopulmonary Arrest (CPA)
Cardiopulmonary arrest and resuscitation are not practice-builders! The success rate of cardiopulmonary cerebral resuscitation
(CPCR) for animals or humans is disappointingly low. For example, one retrospective investigation of intensive care patients
at Colorado State University found that only 4.1% of the dogs and 9.6% of the cats which suffered cardiopulmonary arrest survived
to discharge (Wingfield et al.1992). However, animals which experienced respiratory arrest alone were much more likely to
be successfully resuscitated. Studies in human hospital patients indicate that ~21-29% will survive to discharge.
Anesthetic-related cardiopulmonary arrest and mortality is a concern for owners and veterinarians alike. In 2006, Broadbelt
and co-workers reported that the risk of anesthesia and sedation-related death to be 0.17% and 0.24% in dogs and cats, respectively.
Interestingly, the postoperative time period was the most common time period for perianesthetic death (within 3 hours of termination
of the procedure) in this study. A variety of investigations have identified factors that increase or decrease anesthetic
risk for mortality. Poor health status (increasing ASA classification), breed (brachycephalic), old age, small size, xylazine,
trauma, urgency of procedure, and length of procedure have all been associated with increased risk of death associated with
anesthesia in recent studies. Premedication with acepromazine was identified as a factor that decreased the risk associated
with general anesthesia in one study (Brodbelt et al. 2007), and the presence of technician monitoring reduced risk in another
(Dyson et al. 1998). Pulse oximetry was identified as a monitoring tool associated with decreased mortality in cats (Brodbelt
et al. 2007).
Anesthetized patients suffering CPA may have improved outcome as compared to the general population. Presumably this is because
those patients are intubated, breathing 100% O2, and have a peripheral catheter in place. Moreover, recognition of CPA will most likely occur more rapidly in the anesthetized
patient. Indeed, one investigation (Kass, J Vet Emerg Crit Care, 1992) observed that all survivors of CPA were those animals
whose arrest was associated with anesthetic drug administration Similarly, Hofmeister and co-workers (2009) evaluated cardiopulmonary
arrest in a teaching hospital and showed that CPCR was more likely to be successful in dogs that had cardiopulmonary arrest
Anesthesia-related CPA may be due to equipment failure, respiratory or cardiovascular problems, or human error. Cooper and
co-workers (2002) reported that 82% of preventable anesthetic mishaps were associated with human error. Although the majority
of mishaps in this study did not result in patient mortality, the findings highlight the importance of training, checklists,
communication, and preparation in preventing anesthetic-related mortality. Indeed, due to the low rate of successful resuscitation
and significant morbidity in survivors, prevention of CPA should be one of the most important goals of any anesthesia management
Four factors are generally believed to be related to poor outcome of CPA: 1) Long arrest time prior to initiation of CPR.
2) Prolonged ventricular fibrillation. 3) Inadequate coronary or cerebral perfusion during CPR. 4) Pre-existing disease. Early
recognition and appropriate intervention are the keys to successful resuscitation.
The following is a summary of the latest recommendations in CPCR:
Airway and Breathing:
Airway and breathing: Rapid placement of a cuffed endotracheal tube is an important first step in CPCR. It is important to
confirm correct placement of the tube within the trachea as capnography will not necessarily indicate proper tube placement
when cardiac output is low or nonexistent (That is, ventilation through a properly-placed endotracheal tube may not necessarily
result in a detectable exhaled CO2). Manual ventilation should be initiated as soon as possible and at a rate of 10-12/min,
inspiratory pressure less than 20 cm H2O and with an inspiratory time of ~ 1 second. The inspired gas mixture should include
supplemental oxygen whenever possible.