Podcast #303: Lazarus Effect - The Emergency Medical Minute

Author: Dylan Luyten, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • The Lazarus phenomenon is the delayed return of spontaneous circulation after cessation of CPR.
  • A prospective study in Finland found 5 out of 840 patients where CPR was attempted in the setting of cardiac arrest experienced the Lazarus effect (about 0.6%).
  • 3 of these patients died on scene, and the other 2 died in the hospital at 1.5 and 26 hours respectively.
  • Ultimately, the Lazarus effect is rare, but it does occur and providers and family members should be aware that signs such as gasping or twitching may be seen after cardiac arrest, but the prognosis is still dismal.


Kuisma, M, et al. (September 2017) “Delayed return of spontaneous circulation (the Lazarus phenomenon) after cessation of out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation”. Resuscitation. 118: 107-111


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