Predicting time to asystole following withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment: a systematic review

Craig Nicolson*, Anique Burke, Dale Gardiner, Dan Harvey, Laveena Munshi, Martin Shaw, Thanasis Tsanas, Nazir I Lone, Kathryn Puxty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The planned withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment is a common practice in the intensive care unit for patients where ongoing organ support is recognised to be futile. Predicting the time to asystole following withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment is crucial for setting expectations, resource utilisation and identifying patients suitable for organ donation after circulatory death. This systematic review evaluates the literature for variables associated with, and predictive models for, time to asystole in patients managed on intensive care units. We conducted a comprehensive structured search of the MEDLINE and Embase databases. Studies evaluating patients managed on adult intensive care units undergoing withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment with recorded time to asystole were included. Data extraction and PROBAST quality assessment were performed and a narrative summary of the literature was provided. Twenty-three studies (7387 patients) met the inclusion criteria. Variables associated with imminent asystole (<60 min) included: deteriorating oxygenation; absence of corneal reflexes; absence of a cough reflex; blood pressure; use of vasopressors; and use of comfort medications. We identified a total of 20 unique predictive models using a wide range of variables and techniques. Many of these models also underwent secondary validation in further studies or were adapted to develop new models. This review identifies variables associated with time to asystole following withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and summarises existing predictive models. Although several predictive models have been developed, their generalisability and performance varied. Further research and validation are needed to improve the accuracy and widespread adoption of predictive models for patients managed on intensive care units who may be eligible to donate organs following their diagnosis of death by circulatory criteria.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalAnaesthesia: Peri-operative medicine, critical care and pain
Early online date1 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • withdrawal
  • treatment
  • time
  • asystole
  • prediction

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