An observational study to assess changes in arterial blood gas values during untreated porcine ventricular fibrillation

Author Department

Emergency Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



BACKGROUND: Cardiocerebral resuscitation (CCR) is reportedly superior to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) even though active ventilation is not initially provided. Understandably, concerns have been raised regarding the withholding of positive pressure ventilation (PPV) during CCR because of the longstanding belief that respiratory gas exchange is a critical action during resuscitation. OBJECTIVE: In this observational study, we sought to quantify the effect of prolonged untreated ventricular fibrillation (VF) on arterial pH, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO(2)), and partial pressure of oxygen (pO(2)) values in a swine model of witnessed cardiac arrest to begin exploring the validity of these concerns. METHODS: Both included studies were approved by the institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC). Eighty-three animals (25-35 kg) were instrumented under general anesthesia. Baseline characteristics were recorded. An arterial blood gas (ABG) sample was drawn from each animal via femoral catheter just prior to electrical induction of VF. After 8 minutes of untreated VF in one study (study 1 [n = 30]) and 10 minutes of untreated VF in the other study (study 2 [n = 53]), a second ABG sample was drawn. All samples were processed immediately using an i-STAT portable whole blood analyzer. Baseline characteristics of animals in the two studies were assessed using descriptive statistics. For the second ABG sample in each study, the mean pH, pCO(2), and pO(2) values, with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs), were determined. The paired ABG results for each animal were then compared and the average pH, pCO(2), and pO(2) proportions, with 95% CIs, for each study were calculated. RESULTS: The baseline characteristics of the animals in the two studies were similar. After 8 and 10 minutes of untreated VF cardiac arrest, the pH values were 7.35 (95% CI = 7.32, 7.37) and 7.37 (95% CI = 7.36, 7.38), the pCO(2) increased to 44.1 mmHg (95% CI = 41.1, 47.1) and 52.7 mmHg (95% CI = 51.0, 54.4), and the pO(2) decreased to 44.8 mmHg (95% CI = 42.2, 47.4) and 45.5 mmHg (95% CI = 43.3, 47.6), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Using our swine model of witnessed cardiac arrest with prolonged untreated VF, the arterial pH remained essentially unchanged and the pCO(2) increased to 1.42 times baseline after 10 minutes, while almost half of the initial O(2) concentration in the blood at the beginning of resuscitation remained.