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Emergency medicine: heart-lung machine brings clinically dead patients back to life

(Vienna 6th September 2012) Young people especially who suffer acute heart failure can be saved with the prompt use of a heart-lung machine. And the number of patients that can be saved could be even higher, according to a current study by the University Department of Emergency Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna.

Heart-lung machines are normally used in operating theatres and on intensive care units. A study by the University Department of Emergency Medicine at the MedUni Vienna has demonstrated that this technology can also save people’s lives in an emergency medicine setting in which other resuscitation measures have been unsuccessful. The study’s authors, led by Fritz Sterz, report that around 15 per cent of patients have been successfully brought back to life with this technology since 1995 – and without any long-term damage. Says Sterz: “The patients are primarily young people. They are only 35 years old on average. If more of them were brought to us immediately, we could save many more young people’s lives.”

Mobile heart-lung machine and “mobile rescue unit”
In light of these findings, the University Department of Emergency Medicine at the Vienna General Hospital is looking to further expand its existing cooperation with the Vienna Ambulance Service. The department will soon have its first mobile heart-lung machine. This device will enable patients to be treated acutely directly on site. To provide further support for this mobile acute care service, an application has been submitted to the EU for funding of a fully-equipped “mobile rescue unit”.

Only centre of its kind in Austria
In Austria, the University Department of Emergency Medicine is the only centre in which clinically dead emergency patients are resuscitated with heart-lung machines. This is only possible thanks to the flawless teamwork between numerous experts from a variety of medical disciplines. After receiving the crash call, these experts need to be ready for action within five to ten minutes. They include cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiac technicians and cardiologists.

The results of the study have recently been published in “Resuscitation”, an internationally leading scientific journal of emergency medicine.


Service: Resuscitation
Emergency cardio-pulmonary bypass in cardiac arrest: Seventeen years of
Experience.
”. Christian Wallmüller, Fritz Sterza, Christoph Testori, Andreas Schober, Peter Stratil, David Hörburger, Mathias Stöckl, Christoph Weiser, Danica Kricanac, Daniel Zimpfer, Zeno Deckert, Michael Holzer; Resuscitation. 2012 Jul 16.