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Advanced life support and mechanical ventilation

Kill, Clemensa,b; Dersch, Wolfganga; Wulf, Hinnerka

Current Opinion in Critical Care: June 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 3 - p 251–255
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e3283523f69

Purpose of review Artificial ventilation is one of the best known resuscitation procedures. It is generally accepted that there must be oxygen delivery to vital organs during cardiac arrest and resuscitation in order to prevent irreversible damage, but there is an increasing number of ventilation concepts for resuscitation. Traditional and alternative methods of ventilation are reviewed.

Recent findings The need for positive-pressure ventilation during resuscitation as an essential gold standard might be overestimated at least in the first minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The co-founders of the concept of cardiocerebral resuscitation could show positive effects of a sole passive oxygenation at the beginning of advanced life support (ALS). Research was published on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilation as well as on CPAP plus pressure support ventilation. In addition to positive-pressure ventilation, the use of an impedance threshold device, partly in addition with active compression–decompression CPR, was investigated in both experimental and clinical settings. None of these methods alone could be proven to improve the outcome of cardiac arrest. The role of high oxygen concentration during CPR also remains unclear.

Summary Positive-pressure ventilation with pure oxygen remains, in clinical practice, the gold standard in ALS. Further research should focus on the role of passive oxygenation during early ALS. The concentration of oxygen needed during resuscitation has to be defined and alternative ventilation patterns, regarding the impact of CPR, should be investigated.

aDepartment of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Philipps-University

bDepartment of Emergency Medicine, University Hospital Giessen, Marburg, Germany

Correspondence to Professor, Dr Clemens Kill, Department of Emergency Medicine, University Hospital Giessen-Marburg, D-35033 Marburg, Germany. Tel: +49 64215861999; fax: +49 64215865928; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.