The reported incidence of injuries due to cardiopulmonary resuscitation using manual chest compressions (manual CPR) varies greatly. Our aim was to elucidate the incidence of CPR-related injuries by manual chest compressions compared to mechanical chest compressions with the LUCAS device (mechanical CPR) in non-survivors after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
In this prospective multicentre trial, including 222 patients (83 manual CPR/139 mechanical CPR), autopsies were conducted after unsuccessful CPR and the results were evaluated according to a specified protocol.
Among the patients included, 75.9% in the manual CPR group and 91.4% in the mechanical CPR group (p=0.002) displayed CPR-related injuries. Sternal fractures were present in 54.2% of the patients in the manual CPR group and in 58.3% in the mechanical CPR group (p=0.56). Of the patients in the manual CPR group, there were 64.6% with at least one rib fracture versus 78.8% in the mechanical CPR group (p=0.02). The median number of rib fractures among patients with rib fractures was 7 in the manual CPR group and 6 in the mechanical CPR group. No CPR-related injury was considered to be the cause of death.
In patients with unsuccessful CPR after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, rib fractures were more frequent after mechanical CPR but there was no difference in the incidence of sternal fractures. No injury was deemed fatal by the pathologist.