Objective. Data regarding pediatric in-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) have been limited because of retrospective study designs, small sample sizes, and inconsistent definitions of cardiac arrest and CPR. The purpose of this study was to prospectively describe and evaluate pediatric in-hospital CPR with the international consensus-derived epidemiologic definitions from the Utstein guidelines.

Methods. All 129 in-hospital CPRs during 12 months at a 122-bed university children’s hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, were described and evaluated using Utstein reporting guidelines. These guidelines include standardized descriptions of hospital variables, patient variables, arrest/event variables, and outcome variables. CPR was defined as chest compressions and assisted ventilation provided because of cardiac arrest or because of severe bradycardia with poor perfusion. Outcome variables included sustained return of spontaneous circulation, 24-hour survival, 30-day survival, 1-year survival, and neurologic status of survivors by the Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category Scale.

Results. Of the 6024 children admitted to the hospital, 176 (3%) had an episode that met the criteria for provision of CPR and 129 (2%) received CPR, 86 for clinical cardiac arrest and 43 for bradycardia with poor perfusion. Most of the children (71%) had preexisting chronic diseases. The most common precipitating causes were respiratory failure (61%) and shock (29%). The initial cardiac rhythm was asystole in 71 children (55%), pulseless electrical activity in 12 (9%), ventricular fibrillation in 1, and bradycardia with pulses and poor perfusion in 43 (33%). Eighty-three children (64%) attained sustained return of spontaneous circulation (>20 minutes), 43 (33%) were alive at 24 hours, 24 (19%) were alive at 30 days, and 19 (15%) were alive at 1 year. Although many factors correlated with 24-hour survival, multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed independent association of 24-hour survival with respiratory failure as the precipitating cause (odds ratio [OR]: 4.92; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.73–14.0), bradycardia with pulses as the initial event (OR: 2.68; 95% CI: 1.01–7.1), and shorter duration of CPR (OR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.89–0.96 for each elapsed minute). Similarly, 30-day survival was independently associated with respiratory failure as the precipitating cause and shorter duration of CPR. Thirty-day survival decreased by 5% with each elapsed minute of CPR. Nineteen (91%) of the 21 survivors to hospital discharge and 16 (83%) of the 19 1-year survivors had no demonstrable long-term change in neurologic function from their pre-CPR status.

Conclusions. During this study, CPR was uncommon but not rare. Respiratory failure was the most common precipitating cause, followed by shock. Preexisting chronic diseases were prevalent among these children. Asystole was the most common initial cardiac rhythm, and bradycardia with pulses and poor perfusion was the second most common. Ventricular fibrillation was rare, but children with acute cardiac diseases, such as cardiac surgery and acute cardiomyopathies, were not admitted to this children’s hospital. CPR was effective: nearly two thirds of these children were initially successfully resuscitated, and one third were alive at 24 hours compared with imminent death without CPR and advanced life support. Nevertheless, survival progressively decreased over time, generally as a result of the underlying disease process. One-year survival was 15%. Importantly, most of these survivors had no demonstrable change in gross neurologic function from their pre-CPR status.

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