ORLANDO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Infection rates didn’t differ between children who suffered cardiac arrest in or out of the hospital, and in both groups, few children’s infections were confirmed by culture, in a multicenter study.

The study explored infectious complications associated with pediatric cardiac arrest, Dr. Fasiha Saeed said at the Critical Care Congress, sponsored by the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

She and her colleagues examined records of 491 pediatric patients who had return of spontaneous circulation after cardiac arrest (CA), 269 in hospital (IH) and 115 out of hospital (OH). Overall, more children who had in-hospital cardiac arrest were suspected of having an infection (242 [90%], compared with 83 [74%], in the OHCA group; P less than 0.0001).

However, cultures were actually sent for only about one in three patients with suspected infection in either group (34% IHCA and 35% OHCA). Definite infection was found in most patients who were cultured (82% and 86%, respectively).

Patients had “suspected infection” if they received cultures or antimicrobials, and were termed to have “definite infection” only if cultures were positive for infection.

“Infectious complications following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have been reported in the adult literature, but the pediatric experience post–cardiac arrest is limited to case reports and small case series,” said Dr. Saeed, a pediatric critical care physician at Advocate Hospital, Park Ridge, Ill.

Data from PECARN (Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network) had previously shown that in-hospital pediatric cardiac arrest patients were more likely to receive antimicrobials after return of spontaneous circulation. However, infectious etiologies and the early hospital course of these patients after their cardiac arrest was not known, said Dr. Saeed.

Dr. Saeed and her coinvestigators had hypothesized that “children with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have a higher incidence of infections after return of spontaneous circulation and worse outcomes compared to children with in-hospital cardiac arrest,” she said. “We were surprised to see how infrequently cultures were sent,” said Dr. Saeed, in discussing the findings that were contrary to the study’s hypothesis.

Dr. Saeed and her colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of the multi-institutional, deidentified PECARN database, examining 491 pediatric cardiac arrest patients who had required at least 1 minute of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The patients were aged 24 hours to 18 years; the period of data collection was July 2003-December 2004.

Exclusion criteria included a diagnosis of septic shock, the use of therapeutic hypothermia, or patient death within 24 hours of the cardiac arrest.

Among other findings presented by Dr. Saeed, no association was seen between either suspected or definite infection and mortality. Antibiotic usage was also not associated with mortality. However, definite infection was positively associated with a respiratory etiology for cardiac arrest (odds ratio, 2.6). Post–cardiac arrest central venous pressure monitoring was also associated with definite infection (OR, 2.1).

Support for the study was provided by the Medical College of Wisconsin. The investigators disclosed no relevant conflicts of interest.

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