In this predictive modelling study we aimed to investigate how many patients with an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) would benefit from pre-hospital as opposed to in-hospital initiation of extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR).
A temporal spatial analysis of Utstein data was performed for all adult patients with a non-traumatic OHCA attended by three emergency medical services (EMS) covering the north of the Netherlands during a one-year period. Patients were considered potentially eligible for ECPR if they had a witnessed arrest with immediate bystander CPR, an initial shockable rhythm (or signs of life during resuscitation) and could be presented in an ECPR-centre within 45 minutes of the arrest. Endpoint of interest was defined as the hypothetical number of ECPR eligible patients after 10, 15 and 20 minutes of conventional CPR and upon (hypothetical) arrival in an ECPR-centre as a fraction of the total number of OHCA patients attended by EMS.
During the study period 622 OHCA patients were attended, of which 200 (32%) met ECPR eligibility criteria upon EMS arrival. The optimal transition point between conventional CPR and ECPR was found to be after 15 minutes. Hypothetical intra-arrest transport of all patients in whom no return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) was obtained after that point (n = 84) would have yielded 16/622 (2.5%) patients being potentially ECPR eligible upon hospital arrival (average low-flow time 52 minutes), whereas on-scene initiation of ECPR would have resulted in 84/622 (13.5%) potential candidates (average estimated low-flow time 24 minutes before cannulation).
Even in healthcare systems with relatively short transport distances to hospital, consideration should be given to pre-hospital initiation of ECPR for OHCA as it shortens low-flow time and increases the number of potentially eligible patients.