Standard external cardiopulmonary resuscitation (SECPR) frequently produces very low perfusion pressures, which are inadequate to achieve restoration of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and intact survival, particularly when the heart is diseased. Ultra-advanced life support (UALS) techniques may allow support of vital organ systems until either the heart recovers or cardiac repair or replacement is performed. Closed-chest emergency cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) provides control of blood flow, pressure, composition and temperature, but has so far been applied relatively late. This additional low-flow time may preclude conscious survival. An easy, quick method for vessel access and a small preprimed system that could be taken into the field are needed. Open-chest CPR (OCCPR) is physiologically superior to SECPR, but has also been initiated too late in prior studies. Its application in the field has recently proven feasible. Variations of OCCPR, which deserve clinical trials inside and outside hospitals, include 'minimally invasive direct cardiac massage' (MIDCM), using a pocket-size plunger-like device inserted via a small incision and 'direct mechanical ventricular actuation' (DMVA), using a machine that pneumatically drives a cup placed around the heart. Other novel UALS approaches for further research include the use of an aortic balloon catheter to improve coronary and cerebral blood flow during SECPR, aortic flush techniques and a double-balloon aortic catheter that could allow separate perfusion (and cooling) of the heart, brain and viscera for optimal resuscitation of each. Decision-making, initiation of UALS methods and diagnostic evaluations must be rapid to maximize the potential for ROSC and facilitate decision-making regarding long-term circulatory support versus withdrawal of life support for hopeless cases. Research and development of UALS techniques needs to be coordinated with cerebral resuscitation research.
1997. Vol. 34, no 3, 281-93 p.