Assessment of the Need for Immediate Trauma Team Presence for Infants Presenting in Cardiac Arrest

Emily C. Alberto, Childrens National Health System
Lauren J. Waterhouse, Childrens National Health System
Jennifer L. Fritzeen, Childrens National Health System
Constance R. Diangelo, Childrens National Health System
Victoria H. Scheidt, Childrens National Health System
Randall S. Burd, Childrens National Health System


© 2020 by The Southern Medical Association. Objectives Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is rare in infants, with the cause of arrest often unknown upon presentation. Nonaccidental trauma is a potential etiology of OHCA among infants, but its occult presentation makes this etiology challenging to diagnose. In the absence of apparent injuries, identifying the need for trauma team activation is difficult during the initial resuscitation of infants with OHCA. Methods We performed a retrospective chart review of infants younger than 1 year old who presented to Children's National Health System from 2012 to 2016 with cardiopulmonary resuscitation in progress. Medical records and the trauma registry were reviewed for relevant resuscitation information. Autopsy records provided the cause and manner of death, contributing factors to death, and evidence of injury. Results Among 592 infants undergoing resuscitation during the study period, 34 infants (5.7%) presented in cardiac arrest. The average age on presentation was 101.2 days (standard deviation 78.7). Most of the patients (n = 32, 94.1%) died in the emergency department, with none surviving to discharge. Among the 32 infants for whom autopsy records were available, the cause of death was nonaccidental trauma in one patient (3.1%). Conclusions Infant OHCA had poor outcomes, with trauma as a rare etiology. In the absence of external signs of injury or known injury mechanism, immediate trauma team presence was not beneficial for these infants during the initial resuscitation phase.