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Resuscitation. 2014 Jun;85(6):724-31. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2014.01.028. Epub 2014 Feb 10.

A systematic review and pooled analysis of CPR-associated cardiovascular and thoracic injuries.

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Critical Care Medicine Department, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States. Electronic address:
Surgery Branch, Thoracic Oncology Section, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States.
Critical Care Medicine Department, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States.



The incidence of thoracic injuries resulting from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is not well characterized. We describe a case in which a CPR-associated atrial rupture was identified with ultrasound and successfully managed in the intensive care unit with a bedside thoracotomy and atrial repair. We then describe a systematic review with pooled data analysis of CPR-associated cardiovascular, pulmonary, pleural, and thoracic wall injuries.


PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, and Web of Science were searched to identify relevant published studies. Unpublished studies were identified by searching the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, Cochrane Library,, Current Controlled Trials, and Google.


Inclusion criteria for the pooled analysis were any clinical or autopsy study in which (a) patients underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation, (b) chest compressions were administered either manually or with the assistance of active compression-decompression devices, and (c) autopsy or dedicated imaging assessments were conducted to identify complications. Exclusion criteria for the pooled analysis were pre-clinical studies, case reports and abstracts.


Nine-hundred twenty-eight potentially relevant references were identified. Twenty-seven references met inclusion criteria.


A systematic review of the literature is provided with pooled data analysis.


The incidence of reported CPR-associated cardiovascular and thoracic wall injuries varies widely. CPR with active compression-decompression devices has a higher reported incidence of cardiopulmonary injuries. Bedside ultrasound may be a useful adjunct to assess and risk-stratify patients to identify serious or life-threatening CPR-associated injuries.


Automated compression devices; CPR; Cardiac injury; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Thoracic injury; Vascular injury

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