Paediatric traumatic cardiac arrest: the development of an algorithm to guide recognition, management and decisions to terminate resuscitation

J. Vassallo, T. Nutbeam, A. C. Rickard, M. D. Lyttle, B. Scholefield, I. K. Maconochie, J. E. Smith

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8 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Paediatric traumatic cardiac arrest (TCA) is a high acuity, low frequency event. Traditionally, survival from TCA has been reported as low, with some believing resuscitation is futile. Within the adult population, there is growing evidence to suggest that with early and aggressive correction of reversible causes, survival from TCA may be comparable with that seen from medical out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Key to this survival has been the adoption of a standardised approach to resuscitation. The aim of this study was, by a process of consensus, to develop an algorithm for the management of paediatric TCA for adoption in the UK.

METHODS: A modified consensus development meeting of UK experts involved in the management of paediatric TCA was held. Statements discussed at the meeting were drawn from those that did not reach consensus (positive/negative) from a linked three-round online Delphi study. 19 statements relating to the diagnosis, management and futility of paediatric TCA were initially discussed in small groups before each participant anonymously recorded their agreement with the statement using 'yes', 'no' or 'don't know'. In keeping with our Delphi study, consensus was set a priori at 70%. Statements reaching consensus were included in the proposed algorithm.

RESULTS: 41 participants attended the meeting. Of the 19 statements discussed, 13 reached positive consensus and were included in the algorithm. A single statement regarding initial rescue breaths reached negative consensus and was excluded. Consensus was not reached for five statements, including the use of vasopressors and thoracotomy for haemorrhage control in blunt trauma.

CONCLUSION: In attempt to standardise our approach to the management of paediatric TCA and to improve outcomes, we present the first consensus-based algorithm specific to the paediatric population. While this algorithm was developed for adoption in the UK, it may be applicable to similar healthcare systems internationally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-674
Number of pages6
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Issue number11
Early online date28 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

1472-0213 Vassallo, James Nutbeam, Tim Rickard, Annette C ORCID: Lyttle, Mark D Scholefield, Barney Maconochie, Ian K Smith, Jason E PERUKI (Paediatric Emergency Research in the UK and Ireland) Journal Article England Emerg Med J. 2018 Nov;35(11):669-674. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2018-207739. Epub 2018 Aug 28.


  • cardiac arrest
  • major trauma management
  • paediatric emergency
  • med paediatric injury
  • paediatric resuscitation
  • UK Royal Navy


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