Coagulation Derangements in Patients With Refractory Cardiac Arrest Treated With Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Laura Ruggeri, Annalisa Franco, Ada Carla Alba, Rosalba Lembo, Samuele Frassoni, Anna Mara Scandroglio, Maria Grazia Calabrò, Alberto Zangrillo, Federico Pappalardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (eCPR) with venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) is gaining importance as a rescue therapy for refractory cardiac arrest. VA-ECMO, especially in the setting of eCPR, is plagued by hemorrhagic and thromboembolic complications. The authors’ aims were to describe the coagulation profile in refractory cardiac arrest and assess its prognostic role. Design: Single-center retrospective study. Setting: Cardiac surgical intensive care unit of a university hospital. Participants: One hundred eighty-eight patients treated with eCPR for intra-hospital and out-of-hospital refractory cardiac arrest, between 2008 and 2017. Interventions: The authors retrospectively analyzed data from the first blood sample drawn during cannulation for VA-ECMO to understand the association of coagulation parameters with survival to hospital discharge, number of blood components transfused, anticoagulation therapy, serum lactate levels, no-flow time, and low-flow time. Measurements and Main Results: Platelet count was 126 ± 79 × 109/L and in 17% of the population it was lower than 50 × 109/L, prothrombin time was 3.22 ± 4.01, activated partial thromboplastin time was 117 ± 78 seconds, fibrinogen was 186 ± 148 mg/dL, antithrombin was 47 ± 16%, and D-dimer was ≥2-fold the normal upper limit in 95% of patients. Fifty percent of patients had a disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) score ≥6 (52% among out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, 33% among in-hospital cardiac arrest), according to the criteria of the Japanese Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis (2016). The median DIC score was 5.5 points (interquartile range 4-8), significantly different between survivors and nonsurvivors (4 [3-6] v 6 [4-8], p = 0.007). Every DIC score point contributed to the mortality risk (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.09-1.67, p = 0.006). Patients with overt DIC less frequently received anticoagulants (28.6% v 55.9%, p = 0.002), started anticoagulant therapy later (12 [10-23] v 8.5 [5-12] hours, p = 0.045), and received a larger quantity of blood products (11 [4-23] v 3 [0-8.5] units, p < 0.0001). Conclusion: Coagulation derangements are frequent in patients with refractory cardiac arrest and have important consequences for eCPR management for anticoagulant therapy and blood product transfusion. The presence of DIC diagnostic criteria should be considered among the prognostic factors in this population of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1877-1882
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • cardiac arrest
  • coagulation
  • disseminated intravascular coagulation
  • extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • refractory cardiac arrest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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