A Taiwan medical research team reported that the survival rate of patients who receive emergency treatment using the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) life-support system is twice as high as among those who are given conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) alone.
The study, conducted by a group of physicians at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) on patients aged 18 years old to 75 years old between 2004 and 2006, assessed the effects of ECMO after in-hospital cardiac arrest.
The university presented the results of the research on Wednesday. Physicians who worked on the project include Chen Yih-sharng (陳益祥), Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Lu Hsi-yu (虞希禹) from the cardiac surgery department and Lin Jou-wei (林昭維) from the cardiology department of NTUH’s Yunlin branch.
The study, entitled Cardiopulmonary resuscitation with assisted extracorporeal life-support versus conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation in adults with in-hospital cardiac arrest: an observational study and propensity analysis, was published in the July 7 edition of The Lancet, the world’s leading independent general medical journal, an NTUH spokesman said.
He said that the hospital had used the ECMO procedure on 132 patients and — as there have been only 267 recorded cases of EMCO use around the world over the past three years — the study has drawn international attention in medical circles.
The process involves the insertion of a catheter into the femoral artery/vein and circulating blood through a pump, heat exchange, and oxygenator before returning it to the body.
In the study, 113 of 975 patients who suffered in-hospital cardiac arrest and were given CPR for more than 10 minutes were enrolled in the conventional CPR group, while 59 were enrolled in the extracorporeal group.
The researchers found that among the patients who had received extracorporeal CPR the survival and discharge rate was 24 percent, while among those who received conventional CPR it was 11 percent.
Some 82 percent of cardiac arrest patients who were treated with the ECMO procedure recovered and returned to work within one year, the study showed.
Yang Pan-chi (楊泮池), the dean of NTU’s College of Medicine, said the study had altered the traditional medical definition that a patient may be pronounced dead if 30 minutes of CPR proves unsuccessful.
The study proves that is possible to save the life of patients with heart failure as long as their brains and other major organs are receiving an adequate supply of oxygen, Yang said.
This may serve to encourage others in the medical field to conduct research aimed at developing a simpler and cheaper way to supply oxygen to the brain and other organs in the treatment of trauma, he said.