Extracorporeal Life Support for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Adults: Evolving Evidence

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Abstract

For years, conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has been the cornerstone of treatment for cardiac arrest. However, the survival of patients that suffer a cardiac arrest is unsatisfactory despite the use of CPR. The use of extracorporeal life support (ECLS) to aid in the resuscitation of patients in cardiac arrest has the potential benefit of immediate restoration of circulation. Previously, several case reports and small series have suggested that ECLS might provide benefit for patients with refractory cardiac arrest. Several recent larger series, including a number of prospective studies, have emerged that provide further evidence for the utility of emergent institution of ECLS as an adjunct to conventional CPR in the management of cardiac arrest. These studies, which are reviewed here, have provided useful insight into the role of ECLS in cardiac arrest and have set the stage for randomized controlled trials. Ongoing ECLS trials, logistical issues, and future direction of ECLS are reviewed as well.

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