May 1992

Is Cardiopulmonary Bypass Effective for Treatment of Hypothermic Arrest due to Drowning or Exposure?

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Drs Letsou, Kopf, Elefteriades, Baldwin, and Hammond) and the Department of Anesthesiology (Dr Carter), Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Conn.

Arch Surg. 1992;127(5):525-528. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1992.01420050045005

• Various techniques have been advocated for resuscitation from hypothermic arrest caused by ice-cold freshwater drowning or exposure. We have resuscitated five such patients after emergency hospital admission using cardiopulmonary bypass initiated via median sternotomy. All patients presented to our facility with core temperatures less than 26°C. Three patients had been in full cardiopulmonary arrest for more than 30 minutes prior to arrival. The fourth patient presented in ventricular fibrillation; the fifth was admitted to the hospital in sinus bradycardia that quickly deteriorated to asystole. All had cardiopulmonary bypass emergently initiated via median sternotomy. All were rewarmed on bypass to 37°C and all survived at least 24 hours. Three of the five patients are currently alive and well with normal neurologic function. Cardiopulmonary bypass is an effective technique for resuscitation after hypothermic arrest due to near drowning and/or exposure.

(Arch Surg. 1992;127:525-528)