Mechanical chest compression devices for CPR

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Mechanical chest compression devices for CPR

Conventionally cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is done by manual chest compressions, with operators rotating to avoid fatigue. Automatic machines have been developed using pistons, pneumatic vests and band like mechanisms to take over the tiring work chest compressions which is the most demanding part of CPR, especially when it is prolonged. Theoretically they can be better than humans as they dont pause or get tired. They could also give consistent pressure and timing. But this hype has not come into actual practice as a recent Cochrane review has shown [1]. Sometimes some have shown harm as well. The review had assessed data from 11 trials with 12944 adult subjects.

The authors felt that mechanical chest compression devices used by trained staff are a reasonable alternative when high quality CPR is not possible or dangerous to the provider. Potential situations include:

  1. Limited availability of rescuers
  2. Prolonged ongoing CPR
  3. CPR during hypothermic cardiac arrest
  4. CPR in a moving ambulance
  5. CPR in an angiography suite
  6. During preparation for extracorporeal CPR (ECPR)


  1. Wang PL, Brooks SC. Mechanical versus manual chest compressions for cardiac arrest. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Aug 20;8:CD007260.