Postanoxic encephalopathy is the key determinant of death or disability after successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Animal studies have provided proof-of-principle evidence of efficacy of divergent classes of neuroprotective treatments to promote brain recovery. However, apart from targeted temperature management (TTM), neuroprotective treatments are not included in current care of patients with postanoxic encephalopathy after cardiac arrest. We aimed to review the clinical evidence of efficacy of neuroprotective strategies to improve recovery of comatose patients after cardiac arrest and to propose future directions. We performed a systematic search of the literature to identify prospective, comparative clinical trials on interventions to improve neurological outcome of comatose patients after cardiac arrest. We included 53 studies on 21 interventions. None showed unequivocal benefit. TTM at 33 or 36°C and adrenaline (epinephrine) are studied most, followed by xenon, erythropoietin, and calcium antagonists. Lack of efficacy is associated with heterogeneity of patient groups and limited specificity of outcome measures. Ongoing and future trials will benefit from systematic collection of measures of baseline encephalopathy and sufficiently powered predefined subgroup analyses. Outcome measurement should include comprehensive neuropsychological follow-up, to show treatment effects that are not detectable by gross measures of functional recovery. To enhance translation from animal models to patients, studies under experimental conditions should adhere to strict methodological and publication guidelines.
- cerebral ischaemia
- hypoxic ischaemic brain injury
- post-cardiac arrest syndrome
- postanoxic coma