Cerebral resuscitation from cardiac arrest: Treatment potentials

Sven Eric Gisvold, Fritz Sterz, Norman S. Abramson, Gad Bar-Joseph, Uwe Ebmeyer, Hendrik Gervais, Myron Ginsberg, Laurence M. Katz, Patrick M. Kochanek, Kazutoshi Kuboyama, Brian Miller, Walter Obrist, Risto O. Roine, Peter Safar, Kah Ming Sim, Karol Vandevelde, Robert J. White, Feng Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


In 1961, in Pittsburgh, PA, "cerebral" was added to the cardiopulmonary resuscitation system (CPR → CPCR). Cerebral recovery is dependent on arrest and cardiopulmonary resuscitation times, and numerous factors related to basic, advanced, and prolonged life support. Postischemic-anoxic encephalopathy (the cerebral postresuscitation disease or syndrome) is complex and multifactorial. The prevention or mitigation of this syndrome requires that there be development and trials of special, multifaceted, combination treatments. The selection of therapies to mitigate the postresuscitation syndrome should continue to be based on mechanistic rationale. Therapy based on a single mechanism, however, is unlikely to be maximally effective. For logistic reasons, the limit for neurologic recovery after 5 mins of arrest must be extended to achieve functionally and histologically normal human brains after 10 to 20 mins of circulatory arrest. This goal has been approached, but not quite reached. Treatment effects on process variables give clues, but long-term outcome evaluation is needed for documentation of efficacy and to improve clinical results. Goals have crystallized for clinically relevant cardiac arrest-intensive care outcome models in large animals. These studies are expensive, but essential, because positive treatment effects cannot always be confirmed in the rat forebrain ischemia model. Except for a still-elusive breakthrough effect, randomized clinical trials of CPCR are limited in their ability to statistically document the effectiveness of treatments found to be beneficial in controlled outcome models in large animals. Clinical studies of feasibility, side effects, and acceptability are essential. Hypertensive reperfusion overcomes multifocal no-reflow and improves outcome. Physical combination treatments, such as mild resuscitative (early postarrest) hypothermia (34°C) plus cerebral blood flow promotion (e.g., with hypertension, hemodilution, and normocapnia), each having multiple beneficial effects, achieved complete functional and near-complete histologic recovery of the dog brain after 11 mins of normothermic, ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest. Calcium entry blockers appear promising as a treatment for postischemic-anoxic encephalopathy. However, the majority of single or multiple drug treatments explored so far have failed to improve neurologic outcome. Assembling and evaluating combination treatments in further animal studies and determining clinical feasibility inside and outside hospitals are challenges for the near future. Treatments without permanent beneficial effects may at least extend the therapeutic window. All of these investigations will require coordinated efforts by multiple research groups, pursuing systematic, multilevel research - from cell cultures to rats, to large animals, and to clinical trials. There are still many gaps.in our knowledge about optimizing extracerebral life support for cerebral outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S69-S80
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number2 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal outcome models
  • Calcium entry blockers
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Cerebral resuscitation
  • Clinical trials
  • Combination treatments
  • Hypothermia
  • Ischemia
  • Outcome evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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