Characterizing cardiac arrest in children undergoing cardiac surgery: A single-center study

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To characterize cardiac arrest in children undergoing cardiac surgery using single-center data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and Pediatric Advanced Life Support Utstein-Style Guidelines.


Patients aged 18 years or less having a cardiac arrest for 1 minute or more during the same hospital stay as heart operation qualified for inclusion (2002-2014). Patients having a cardiac arrest both before or after heart operation were included. Heart operations were classified on the basis of the first cardiovascular operation of each hospital admission (the index operation). The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge.


A total of 3437 children undergoing at least 1 heart operation were included. Overall rate of cardiac arrest among these patients was 4.5% (n = 154) with survival to hospital discharge of 84 patients (66.6%). Presurgery cardiac arrest was noted among 28 patients, with survival of 21 patients (75%). Among the 126 patients with postsurgery cardiac arrest, survival was noted among 84 patients (66.6%). Regardless of surgical case complexity, the median days between heart operation and cardiac arrest, duration of cardiac arrest, and survival after cardiac arrest were similar. The independent risk factors associated with improved chances of survival included shorter duration of cardiac arrest (odds ratio, 1.12; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-1.20; P = .01) and use of defibrillator (odds ratio, 4.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-18.87; P = .03).


This single-center study demonstrates that characterizing cardiac arrest in children undergoing cardiac surgery using definitions from 2 societies helps to increase data granularity and understand the relationship between cardiac arrest and heart operation in a better way.

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