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This article is the author’s final published version in Resuscitation Plus, Volume 15, September 2023, Article number 100424.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Background: Despite the high prevalence of neurological complications and mortality associated with extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR), neurologically-focused animal models are scarce. Our objective is to review current ECPR models investigating neurological outcomes and identify key elements for a recommended model.

Methods: We searched PubMed and four other engines for animal ECPR studies examining neurological outcomes. Inclusion criteria were: animals experiencing cardiac arrest, ECPR/ECMO interventions, comparisons of short versus long cardiac arrest times, and neurological outcomes.

Results: Among 20 identified ECPR animal studies (n = 442), 13 pigs, 4 dogs, and 3 rats were used. Only 10% (2/20) included both sexes. Significant heterogeneity was observed in experimental protocols. 90% (18/20) employed peripheral VA-ECMO cannulation and 55% (11/20) were survival models (median survival = 168 hours; ECMO duration = 60 minutes). Ventricular fibrillation (18/20, 90%) was the most common method for inducing cardiac arrest with a median duration of 15 minutes (IQR = 6–20). In two studies, cardiac arrests exceeding 15 minutes led to considerable mortality and neurological impairment. Among seven studies utilizing neuromonitoring tools, only four employed multimodal devices to evaluate cerebral blood flow using Transcranial Doppler ultrasound and near-infrared spectroscopy, brain tissue oxygenation, and intracranial pressure. None examined cerebral autoregulation or neurovascular coupling.

Conclusions: The substantial heterogeneity in ECPR preclinical model protocols leads to limited reproducibility and multiple challenges. The recommended model includes large animals with both sexes, standardized pre-operative protocols, a cardiac arrest time between 10–15 minutes, use of multimodal methods to evaluate neurological outcomes, and the ability to survive animals after conducting experiments.

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