Peri-intubation cardiac arrest in the Emergency Department: A National Emergency Airway Registry (NEAR) study

April MD, Arana A, Reynolds JC, Carlson JN, Davis WT, Schauer SG, Oliver JJ, Summers SM, Long B, Walls RM, Brown CA 3rd; NEAR Investigators. Peri-intubation cardiac arrest in the Emergency Department: A National Emergency Airway Registry (NEAR) study. Resuscitation. 2021 May;162:403-411. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2021.02.039. Epub 2021 Mar 5. PMID: 33684505.


Aim: To determine the incidence of peri-intubation cardiac arrest through analysis of a multi-center Emergency Department (ED) airway registry and to report associated clinical characteristics.

Methods: This is a secondary analysis of prospectively collected data (National Emergency Airway Registry) comprising ED endotracheal intubations (ETIs) of subjects >14 years old from 2016 to 2018. We excluded those with cardiac arrest prior to intubation. The primary outcome was peri-intubation cardiac arrest. Multivariable logistic regression generated adjusted odds ratios (aOR) of variables associated with this outcome, controlling for clinical features, difficult airway characteristics, and ETI modality.

Results: Of 15,776 subjects who met selection criteria, 157 (1.0%, 95% CI 0.9-1.2%) experienced peri-intubation cardiac arrest. Pre-intubation systolic blood pressure <100 mm Hg (aOR 6.2, 95% CI 2.5-8.5), pre-intubation oxygen saturation <90% (aOR 3.1, 95% CI 2.0-4.8), and clinician-reported need for immediate intubation without time for full preparation (aOR 1.8, 95% CI, 1.2-2.7) were associated with higher likelihood of peri-intubation cardiac arrest. The association between pre-intubation shock and cardiac arrest persisted in additional modeling stratified by ETI indication, induction agent, and oxygenation status.

Conclusions: Peri-intubation cardiac arrest for patients undergoing ETI in the ED is rare. Higher likelihood of arrest occurs in patients with pre-intubation shock or hypoxemia. Prospective trials are necessary to determine whether a protocol to optimize pre-intubation haemodynamics and oxygenation mitigates the risk of peri-intubation cardiac arrest.

Keywords: Adverse event; Airway; Cardiac arrest; Hypotension; Hypoxemia; Intubation; Mortality.

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