Risk factors for development of cerebral edema following cardiac arrest



      Cerebral edema following cardiac arrest is a well-known complication of resuscitation and portends a poor outcome. We identified predictors of post-cardiac arrest cerebral edema and tested the association of cerebral edema with discharge outcome.


      We performed a retrospective chart review including patients admitted at a single center between January 2015–March 2020 following resuscitation from in-hospital and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest who had head computed tomography imaging. Our primary outcome was moderate-to-severe cerebral edema, which we defined as loss of grey-white differentiation with effacement of the basal and ambient cisterns and radiographic evidence of uncal herniation. We used logistic regression to test associations of demographic information, clinical predictors and comorbidities with moderate-severe cerebral edema.


      We identified 727 patients who met the inclusion criteria, of whom 102 had moderate-to-severe cerebral edema. We identified six independent predictors of moderate-to-severe cerebral edema: younger age, prolonged arrest duration, pulseless electrical activity/asystole as initial rhythm, unwitnessed cardiac arrest, hyperglycemia on admission, and lower Glasgow coma score on presentation. Of patients with moderate-to-severe cerebral edema, 2% survived to discharge, 56% had withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies and 42% progressed to death by neurological criteria.


      Our study identified several risk factors associated with the development of cerebral edema following cardiac arrest. Further studies are needed to determine the benefits of early interventions in these high-risk patients.


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