Does Naloxone save lives? Does it help in cardiac arrest? Prehospital use of Naloxone is surrounded by misinformation. This week, we examine the history behind Naloxone as well as how it can provide benefit.
One of the most common misconceptions is the Naloxone has some benefit in cardiac arrest. It does not. The Rogue Medic did an excellent write up of Naloxone in his blog (see Show Notes) years before, but it has not killed the mythos of Naloxone in cardiac arrest. My hope is that this episode may be enlightening to a few providers, who can then share the knowledge with their peers. But first, let’s put to rest the misconception of evidence for Naloxone in cardiac arrest. Many “Naloxone Apologists” will cite Saybolt, et al. as evidence of benefit, but fail to actually dig through the data. When we read through the “evidence” supplied in the study, it does not paint a picture that anyone could logically construe as providing benefit.
But don’t take my word for it, here’s the very data from the study.
|Age & Gender||Recorded response time||Narrative||Outcome|
|73 YOF|| Asystole→ventricular fibrillation
|Found in asystole. Over 22 min received epinephrine 3× and atropine 3× without effect. Subsequently administered naloxone 2 mg followed by epinephrine 1×.||Pronounced in ED|
|49 YOF||PEA→sinus tachycardia
|Found in asystole. Over 16 min received epinephrine 1× and atropine 1×. Rhythm changed to PEA (rate unknown). Naloxone 2 mg administered, rhythm changed to sinus tachycardia (118 bpm)||Died in Hospital, Day 2.|
|37 YOM||Asystole→accelerated junctional rhythm
|Found in asystole. Received epinephrine 2× and atropine 2× over 8 min. Naloxone 2 mg administered followed immediately by epinephrine at which point EKG converted to accelerated junctional rhythm (60 bpm).||Pronounced in ED|
|Found in ventricular fibrillation. Defibrillated at 200 J and converted to asystole. Administered epinephrine and atropine without rhythm change. Naloxone 2 mg administered, rhythm changed to PEA (rate unknown).||Pronounced in ED|
|62 YOM||PEA→ventricular fibrillation
|Found in PEA (rate 40 s). Over 6 min, received epinephrine 1× and atropine 1×. Remained in PEA (rate 90). Received naloxone 2 mg and epinephrine 1× and rhythm change to ventricular fibrillation.||Died in Hospital, Day 1.|
|Arrest witnessed by BLS with <1 min anoxic time. Found in asystole. Received epinephrine 1×, atropine 1×. No changes. Received naloxone 2 mg, epinephrine 1× and atropine 1× and spontaneous non-sustained 20–30s runs of idioventricular PEA (HR unknown) were noted.||Pronounced in Field|
|23 YOM||Asystole→ventricular tachycardia (pulseless)
|Found in asystole. Received epinephrine 2× and atropine 2× over 16 min. Remained in asystole. Received naloxone 2 mg, dextrose 50% 25 g, epinephrine, atropine, and sodium bicarbonate 50 mEq over 7 min. Converted to pulseless ventricular tachycardia.||Pronounced in ED|
|36 YOF||Asystole→sinus tachycardia
|Found in asystole. Received epinephrine 2× and atropine 2× over 13 min. Remained in asystole. Received naloxone 2 mg. Converted to sinus tachycardia (130 bpm) within 2 min.||Died in Hospital, Day 11.|
|Arrest witnessed by ALS 2–3 min after arrival with <1 min anoxic time. Fluctuated between PEA, asystole, and ventricular fibrillation. Received epinephrine 8×, atropine 3×, sodium bicarbonate 50 mEq 2×, and calcium chloride 1 g over 32 min. Defibrillated at 360 J 2×. Stayed in asystole. Received naloxone 2 mg. Converted back to PEA (rate unknown).||Pronounced in ED|
|66 YOM||PEA→ventricular tachycardia (pulseless)
|Found in PEA (rate 35). Received epinephrine 2× and atropine 1× over 10 min. Remained in PEA. Received naloxone 2 mg, epinephrine, and sodium bicarbonate 50 mEq over 6 min. Converted to pulseless ventricular tachycardia (rate 150).||Pronounced in ED|
|Found in asystole. Received epinephrine 2×, atropine 2×, and naloxone 2 mg over 7 min. Remained in asystole. Received 2nd dose of naloxone 2 mg. Converted to PEA (rate unknown).||Survived to Hospital Admission (unknown outcome)|
|Found in PEA (rate unknown). Four minutes after ALS arrival, patient received epinephrine and converted to asystole. Over 9-min interval patient received epinephrine 2× and atropine 2× and rhythm converted to PEA (rate 70). Patient received naloxone 1 mg and rhythm converted back to asystole||Pronounced in ED|
|Found in PEA (rate 10–20). Over 2-min interval, patient received epinephrine 1× and atropine 1×. Remained in PEA. Patient administered naloxone 2 mg, epinephrine 1× and atropine 1×. Converted to asystole.||Pronounced in ED|
|45 YOM||Ventricular fibrillation→PEA
|Found in PEA (rate 110) and received epinephrine 1×. Converted to ventricular fibrillation. Patient received naloxone 2 mg and converted back to PEA (rate 60).||Pronounced in Field|
|Found in asystole. Over 22 min received epinephrine 3×, atropine 2× and thiamine 100 mg. Converted to PEA. Over 3 min patient received epinephrine 1× and dextrose 50% 75 g without rhythm change. Patient received naloxone 10 mg, epinephrine 2×, and bicarbonate 50 mEq and converted back to asystole||Unknown Outcome|
The above data has been reproduced in accordance with the provisions of 17 U.S. Code § 107 “Fair Use” for the purposes of criticism, comment, and non-commercial educational purposes.
CORRECTION: In this episode, I erroneously refer to Naloxone as N-allylnoroxycodone. The correct name is N-allylnoroxymorphone.
- Cover Photo by JGPhotography2000
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