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Mechanical CPR devices compared to manual CPR during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and ambulance transport: a systematic review

Marcus Eng Hock Ong1*, Kevin E Mackey2, Zhong Cheng Zhang1, Hideharu Tanaka3, Matthew Huei-Ming Ma4, Robert Swor5 and Sang Do Shin6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Singapore General Hospital, Outram Road, Singapore, 169608, Singapore

2 Department of Emergency Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento, CA, USA

3 Department of Emergency System, Graduate School of Sport System, Kokushikan University, Tokyo, Japan

4 Department of Emergency Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

5 Department of Emergency Medicine, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI, USA

6 Department of Emergency Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea

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Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2012, 20:39  doi:10.1186/1757-7241-20-39

Published: 18 June 2012



The aim of this paper was to conduct a systematic review of the published literature to address the question: “In pre-hospital adult cardiac arrest (asystole, pulseless electrical activity, pulseless Ventricular Tachycardia and Ventricular Fibrillation), does the use of mechanical Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) devices compared to manual CPR during Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest and ambulance transport, improve outcomes (e.g. Quality of CPR, Return Of Spontaneous Circulation, Survival)”.


Databases including PubMed, Cochrane Library (including Cochrane database for systematic reviews and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials), Embase, and AHA EndNote Master Library were systematically searched. Further references were gathered from cross-references from articles and reviews as well as forward search using SCOPUS and Google scholar. The inclusion criteria for this review included manikin and human studies of adult cardiac arrest and anti-arrhythmic agents, peer-review. Excluded were review articles, case series and case reports.


Out of 88 articles identified, only 10 studies met the inclusion criteria for further review. Of these 10 articles, 1 was Level of Evidence (LOE) 1, 4 LOE 2, 3 LOE 3, 0 LOE 4, 2 LOE 5. 4 studies evaluated the quality of CPR in terms of compression adequacy while the remaining six studies evaluated on clinical outcomes in terms of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), survival to hospital admission, survival to discharge and Cerebral Performance Categories (CPC). 7 studies were supporting the clinical question, 1 neutral and 2 opposing.


In this review, we found insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of mechanical CPR devices in settings of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and during ambulance transport. While there is some low quality evidence suggesting that mechanical CPR can improve consistency and reduce interruptions in chest compressions, there is no evidence that mechanical CPR devices improve survival, to the contrary they may worsen neurological outcome.

“Mechanical”; “Automatic”; “Load distribution band; “Cardiopulmonary resuscitation”; “Chest compression”; “Transport”; and “Transportation”