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Traumatic cardiac arrest: a unique approach

Harris, Tima,b,d,e; Masud, Syedf,g; Lamond, Annah; Abu-Habsa, Mamounc,i,j

European Journal of Emergency Medicine: April 2015 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 72–78
doi: 10.1097/MEJ.0000000000000180

Resuscitation of patients who sustain a cardiac arrest as a result of trauma (traumatic cardiac arrest) has previously been described as ‘futile’. Several published series have since contradicted this claim and reported survival-to-discharge data ranging from 0 to 35%. International resuscitation guidelines (European Resuscitation Council and American Heart Association) promote a consistent approach to cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the basis of up-to-date evidence and consensus opinions. This minimizes de-novo decision-making under high-stress situations, promotes a rational approach and reduces the burden on an individual clinician. This narrative review sets out to highlight the differences in aetiology of traumatic cardiac arrest as compared with medical cardiac arrest and the consequent priorities in resuscitation.

aEmergency Medicine, Barts Health NHS Trust

bEmergency Medicine, London Emergency Academic Research Network (LEARN)

cLondon Emergency Academic Research Network (LEARN)

dEmergency Medicine, London’s Air Ambulance

eEmergency Medicine, East Anglia Air Ambulance

fEmergency Medicine and Pre-Hospital Care, Oxford University Hospitals

gEmergency Medicine and Pre-Hospital Care, Thames Valley Air Ambulance

hPostgraduate School of General Practice, Mersey Deanery

iEmergency Medicine and Trauma, King’s College Hospital NHS Trust

jKent Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance

Correspondence to Mamoun Abu-Habsa, MRCS, DIMC, FCEM, Emergency Medicine and Trauma, King’s College Hospital NHS Trust, Denmark Hill, London SE59RS, UK E-mail:

Received August 6, 2013

Accepted May 23, 2014

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