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Determining adequacy of mechanical ventilation is as important during CPR as in a more stable situation (such as, a patient on a ventilator in an ICU). Yet, such assessment during CPR usually only means listening for breath sounds, checking chest excursion, and blood gases. Exhaled tidal volume (VT) was measured on 45 intubated adult patients during resuscitation using a Wright's spirometer attached to a T-valve above the endotracheal tube. Ten patients had aspiration prior to intubation; 15 received advanced cardiac life support in the field, including esophageal airway insertion. CPR was performed in all cases with a mechanical compression device-(Thumper). The pressure ventilator on this device was calibrated (peak inspiratory pressure, VT vs compliance) using a Dixie Test Lung, allowing indirect assessment of pulmonary compliance during CPR.Our findings suggest that lung compliance is markedly reduced within a short time after cardiac arrest. Fifty-five. % of patients in this series could not be adequately oxygenated (Pao2 < 50 torr) despite an FIO2 of 0.8 and adequate ventilation. Due to the reduced cardiac output during CPR causing venoarterial shunting, it is speculated that pulmonary edema is the most plausible explanation for this observation.