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Resuscitation. 2013 Dec;84(12):1691-6. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2013.08.011. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

Treatment of monitored out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia utilising the precordial thump.

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Ambulance Victoria, Doncaster, Victoria, Australia; Monash University, Prahran, Victoria, Australia. Electronic address:



Few studies have described the value of the precordial thump (PT) as first-line treatment of monitored out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) from ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VF/VT).


Patient data was extracted from the Victorian Ambulance Cardiac Arrest Registry (VACAR) for all OHCA witnessed by paramedics between 2003 and 2011. Adult patients who suffered a monitored VF/VT of presumed cardiac aetiology were included. Cases were excluded if the arrest occurred after arrival at hospital, or a 'do not resuscitate' directive was documented. Patients were assigned into two groups according to the use of the PT or defibrillation as first-line treatment. The study outcomes were: impact of first shock/thump on return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), overall ROSC, and survival to hospital discharge.


A total of 434 cases met the eligibility criteria, of which first-line treatment involved a PT in 103 (23.7%) and immediate defibrillation in 325 (74.8%) cases. Patient characteristics did not differ significantly between groups. Seventeen patients (16.5%) observed a PT-induced rhythm change, including five cases of ROSC and 10 rhythm deteriorations. Immediate defibrillation resulted in significantly higher levels of immediate ROSC (57.8% vs. 4.9%, p<0.0001), without excess rhythm deteriorations (12.3% vs. 9.7%, p=0.48). Of the five successful PT attempts, three required defibrillation following re-arrest. Overall ROSC and survival to hospital discharge did not differ significantly between groups.


The PT used as first-line treatment of monitored VF/VT rarely results in ROSC, and is more often associated with rhythm deterioration.


Cardiac arrest; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Emergency medical services; Precordial thump

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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