Drowning - NYSORA

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Definition and additional facts

  • Drowning is a type of suffocation induced by the submersion of the mouth and nose in a liquid
  • The third leading cause of unintentional death 
  • 360,000 drowning victims annually worldwide
  • Submersion time is the strongest predictor of outcome
  • Patients require a trauma/ATLS approach
  • Problem: survival after cardiac arrest from drowning-related asphyxia is rare
    •  100% mortality = submersion > 25 min, resuscitation > 25 min, pulseless on arrival to ER, unconscious at the scene and on arrival to ED
  • Most survivors sustain severe CNS injury

Mechanisms of injury


100% FiO2, ABCDE, SpaO2; ECG, GCS, ACPU, hypothermia, ALS, adrenaline, normothermia, ECPR

Suggested reading

  • Lott C, Truhlář A, Alfonzo A, et al. European Resuscitation Council Guidelines 2021: Cardiac arrest in special circumstances. Resuscitation. 2021;161:152-219.

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