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`PLUNGER' TREATMENT FALLS SHORT, FINDINGS REVEAL

Heart attack victims treated with a device resembling a toilet plunger showed no significant improvement in survival over those given standard CPR, according to a study that contradicts previous findings.

An accompanying editorial in Wednesday's edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association said the study's results argue against using the plunger technique.The study, led by Dr. Theresa M. Schwab of the San Joaquin Medical Education Program at Valley Medical Center in Fresno, Calif., countered findings published last year.

That earlier study, by Dr. Keith Lurie of the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic, found heart attack victims treated with the plunger were almost twice as likely to survive as those given standard CPR.

Lurie is a co-inventor of the Ambu CardioPump, whose manufacturer partially funded Schwab's study.

In standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, palms are pressed against a person's chest to force blood through the body and oxygen is blown into the lungs.

The CardioPump, which has a suction cup attached to a handle, attaches to a patient's chest and is pushed to improve flood and oxygen flow. Mouth-to-mouth also is given when the pump is used.

Dr. Carin M. Olson, contributing editor of JAMA, and Dr. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of JAMA, said in the editorial the pump's use would entail more costs, training and baggage. It "should not be adopted unless it clearly produces clinically important improvement over standard CPR," they wrote.

The suction device costs about $200 and weighs 1.4 pounds.

Schwab's study was conducted in San Francisco and Fresno, Calif. Lurie's was done in St. Paul, Minn.

Neither study was completed. All such U.S. studies were halted in May 1993 because the Food and Drug Administration said patients were unable to give their consent.

Lurie said Monday that he and a colleague originally were part of Schwab's study but withdrew their names from it in a disagreement over data interpretation.