AEM Early Access 05: The Role of Prehospital ACLS for Potential E-CPR Candidates

Welcome to the fifth episode of AEM Early Access, a FOAMed podcast collaboration between the Academic Emergency Medicine Journal and Brown Emergency Medicine. Each month, we'll give you digital open access to an AEM Article in Press, with an author interview podcast and links to curated FOAMed supportive educational materials for EM learners.

Find previous podcasts and subscribe to this series on I tunes here.

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Dr. Alexis Cournoyer, MD   Universite de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Hospital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Institut de Cardiologie de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Dr. Alexis Cournoyer, MD

Universite de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hospital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Institut de Cardiologie de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada




Listen now: Interview with Dr. Alexis Cournoyer, lead author, interviewed by Dr. Thomas Ross

Open Access Through September 30th. Click below:

Prehospital Advanced Cardiac Life Support for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Cohort Study. Cournoyer A, et. al

Article Summary:

Objectives: Out-of-hospital advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) has not consistently shown a positive impact on survival. Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (E-CPR) could render prolonged on-site resuscitation (ACLS or basic cardiac life support [BCLS]) undesirable in selected cases. The objectives of this study were to evaluate, in patients suffering from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) and in a subgroup of potential E-CPR candidates, the association between the addition of prehospital ACLS to BCLS and survival to hospital discharge, prehospital return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and delay from call to hospital arrival. 

Methods: This cohort study targets adult patients treated for OHCA between April 1010 and December 2015 in the city of Montreal, Canada. We defined potential E-CPR candidates using clinical criteria previously described in the literature (65 years of age or younger, initial shockable rhythm, absence of return of spontaneous circulation after 15 minutes of prehospital resuscitation and emergency medical services witnessed collapse or witnessed collapse with bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Associations were evaluated using multivariate regression models.

Results: A total of 7134 patients with OHCA were included, 761 (10.7%) of whom survived to discharge. No independent association between survival to hospital discharge and the addition of prehospital ACLS to BCLS was found in either the entire cohort [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.05 (95% confidence interval 0.84-1.32), p=0.68] or amongst the 246 potential E-CPR candidates [AOR 0.82 (95% confidence interval 0.36-1.84), p=0.63]. The addition of prehospital ACLS to BCLS was associated with a significant increase in the rate of prehospital ROSC in all patients experiencing OHCA (AOR 3.92 [95% CI 3.38-4.55], p<0.001) and in potential E-CPR candidates (AOR 3.48 [95% CI 1.76-6.88], p<0.001) as compared to isolated prehospital BCLS. Delay from call to hospital arrival was longer in the ACLS group than in the BCLS group (difference=16 min [95% CI 15-16], p<0.001). 

Conclusions:  In a tiered-response  urban emergency medical service setting, prehospital ACLS is not associated with an improvement in survival to hospital discharge in patients suffering from OHCA and in potential E-CPR candidates, but with an improvement in prehospital ROSC and with longer delay to hospital arrival. 

Suggestions for Further Reading: 

Open Access:

RAGE Podcast: E-CPR by Vincent Pellegrino

EM Docs: ECMO in the ED


Sanghavi P, Jena AB, Newhouse JP, Zaslavsky AM. Outcomes after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest treated by basic vs advanced life support. JAMA Intern Med 2015;175:196-204. 

Ma MH, Chiang WC, Ko PC, et al. Outcomes from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Metropolitan Taipei: does an advanced life support service make a difference? Resuscitation 2007;74:461-9.

Bakalos G, Mamali M, Komninos C, et. al. Advanced life support versus basic life support in the pre-hospital setting: a meta analysis. Resuscitation 2011;82:1130-7.

Stub D, Bernard S, Pellegrino V, et. al. Refractory cardiac arrest treated with mechanical CPR, hypothermia, ECMO and early reperfusion (the CHEER trial). Resuscitation 2014. 

Siao FY, Chiu CC, Chiu CW, et al. Managing cardiac arrest with refractory ventricular fibrillation in the emergency department: Conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation versus extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Resuscitation 2015;92:70-6. 

Faculty Editors/Reviewers: Dr. Gita Pensa and Dr. Kristy McAteer 

Podcast credits: Used under creative commons license: intro music by , sound effect from, exit music by