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Cardiac Arrest in Special Circumstances—Recent Advances in Resuscitation

Cimpoesu, Diana MD, PhD1; Corlade-Andrei, Mihaela MD, PhD1; Popa, Tudor Ovidiu MD, PhD1,*; Grigorasi, Gabriela MD, PhD Student1; Bouros, Catalin MD, PhD Student1; Rotaru, Luciana MD, PhD2; Nedelea, Paul Lucian MD, PhD Student1

doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000927
Systematic Reviews

Background: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in special circumstances includes the emergency intervention for special causes, special environments, and special patients. Special causes cover the potential reversible causes of cardiac arrest that must be identified or excluded during any resuscitation act. The special environments section includes recommendations for the treatment of cardiac arrest occurring in specific locations: cardiac surgery, catheterization laboratory, dialysis unit, dental surgery, commercial airplanes or air ambulances, playing field, difficult environment (eg, drowning, high altitude, avalanche, and electrical injuries) or mass casualty incident. CPR for special patients gives guidance for the patients with severe comorbidities (asthma, heart failure with ventricular assist devices, neurological disease, and obesity) and pregnant women or older people.

Areas of Uncertainty: There are no generally worldwide accepted resuscitation guidelines for special circumstance, and there are still few studies investigating the safety and outcome of cardiac arrest in special circumstances. Applying standard advanced life support (ALS) guidelines in this situation is not enough to obtain better results from CPR, for example, cardiac arrest caused by electrolyte abnormalities require also the treatment of that electrolyte disturbance, not only standard CPR, or in the case of severe hypothermia, when standard ALS approach is not recommended until a temperature threshold is reached after warming measures. Data sources for this article are scientific articles describing retrospective studies conducted in CPR performed in special circumstances, experts' consensus, and related published opinion of experts in CPR.

Therapeutic Advances: The newest advance in therapeutics applied to resuscitation field for these particular situations is the use of extracorporeal life support/extracorporeal membrane oxygenation devices during CPR.

Conclusions: In special circumstances, ALS guidelines require modification and special attention for causes, environment, and patient particularities, with specific therapeutic intervention concomitant with standard ALS.

1Department of Emergency Medicine, “Grigore T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iasi, Romania; and

2Emergency Medicine, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Craiova, Romania.

Address for correspondence: Department of Emergency Medicine, “Grigore T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Str. Universitatii, no. 1, 700036, Iasi, Romania. E-mail:

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

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