Capnography: A support tool for the detection of return of spontaneous circulation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

Andoni Elola, Elisabete Aramendi, Unai Irusta, Erik Alonso, Yuanzheng Lu, Mary P. Chang, Pamela Owens, Ahamed H. Idris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Automated detection of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is still an unsolved problem during cardiac arrest. Current guidelines recommend the use of capnography, but most automatic methods are based on the analysis of the ECG and thoracic impedance (TI) signals. This study analysed the added value of EtCO2 for discriminating pulsed (PR) and pulseless (PEA) rhythms and its potential to detect ROSC. Materials and methods: A total of 426 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases, 117 with ROSC and 309 without ROSC, were analysed. First, EtCO2 values were compared for ROSC and no ROSC cases. Second, 5098 artefact free 3-s long segments were automatically extracted and labelled as PR (3639) or PEA (1459) using the instant of ROSC annotated by the clinician on scene as gold standard. Machine learning classifiers were designed using features obtained from the ECG, TI and the EtCO2 value. Third, the cases were retrospectively analysed using the classifier to discriminate cases with and without ROSC. Results: EtCO2 values increased significantly from 41 mmHg 3-min before ROSC to 57 mmHg 1-min after ROSC, and EtCO2 was significantly larger for PR than for PEA, 46 mmHg/20 mmHg (p < 0.05). Adding EtCO2 to the machine learning models increased their area under the curve (AUC) by over 2 percentage points. The combination of ECG, TI and EtCO2 had an AUC for the detection of pulse of 0.92. Finally, the retrospective analysis showed a sensitivity and specificity of 96.6% and 94.5% for the detection of ROSC and no-ROSC cases, respectively. Conclusion: Adding EtCO2 improves the performance of automatic algorithms for pulse detection based on ECG and TI. These algorithms can be used to identify pulse on site, and to retrospectively identify cases with ROSC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Capnography
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • End-tidal CO (EtCO)
  • ROSC detection
  • Return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC)
  • Thoracic impedance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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