Mechanical CPR saving lives

13/05/2013

The Alfred became the first health service in Australia this year to trial a mechanical CPR machine which performs constant chest compression for patients experiencing cardiac arrest.

Seven cardiac patients have been treated with the new device, AutoPulse, where a mechanical heart and lung machine normally used in theatre was attached to keep oxygen and blood flowing to the patient's brain and vital organs.  During this time, the brain is protected by rapidly cooling it to 32 degrees.

Using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and AutoPulse attached to a patient allows doctors to diagnose the cardiac condition and treat it faster, at the same time, keeping the constant flow of blood and oxygen to the vital organs and brain, which reduces the risk of disability.

Senior intensive care physician, Professor Steven Bernard said utilising ECMO with AutPulse could save more lives.

"Currently, we have the mechanical chest compression device for CPR to hospital in only three ambulances. The results are exciting and thankfully the manufacturer is providing us with more so now we are looking to expand the use of the device across more areas of Melbourne and are deciding on where they would be best placed.

"The results of this trial could see the role of ECMO expanded into other hospitals as well as local ambulance crews where a patient could receive treatment pre-hospital giving physicians enough time to diagnose their cardiac condition," Stave said.

For the last two years, The Alfred has trialled this approach as part of the Refractory Out-Of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Treated with Mechanical CPR Hypothermia, ECMO and Early Reperfusion, or CHEER study which is in collaboration with The Alfred, Ambulance Victoria, Monash University and Baker idi Heart and Diabetes Institute.