Lazarus syndrome

This article is about the medical phenomenon. For the TV movie, see The Lazarus Syndrome.
Not to be confused with Lazarus sign.
Lazarus syndrome
Synonym Lazarus phenomenon
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 Xxx.x
ICD-9-CM xxx

Lazarus syndrome, also known as autoresuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation,[1] is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation.[2] Its occurrence has been noted in medical literature at least 38 times since 1982.[3][4] It takes its name from Lazarus who, in the New Testament of The Bible, was raised from the dead by Jesus.[5]

Occurrences of the syndrome are extremely rare and the causes are not well understood. One hypothesis for the phenomenon is that a chief factor (though not the only one) is the buildup of pressure in the chest as a result of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The relaxation of pressure after resuscitation efforts have ended is thought to allow the heart to expand, triggering the heart's electrical impulses and restarting the heartbeat.[2] Other possible factors are hyperkalemia or high doses of epinephrine.[5]



The Lazarus phenomenon raises ethical issues for physicians, who must determine when medical death has occurred, resuscitation efforts should end, and postmortem procedures such as autopsies and organ harvesting may take place.[2]

Medical literature has recommended observation of a patient's vital signs for five to ten minutes after cessation of resuscitation before certifying death.[5]

See also


  1. Hornby K, Hornby L, Shemie SD (May 2010). "A systematic review of autoresuscitation after cardiac arrest". Crit. Care Med. 38 (5): 1246–53. doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e3181d8caaa. PMID 20228683.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Ben-David M.D., Bruce; et al. (2001). "Survival After Failed Intraoperative Resuscitation: A Case of "Lazarus Syndrome"". Anesthesia & Analgesia. 92 (3): 690692. doi:10.1213/00000539-200103000-00027. PMID 11226103. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  3. Adhiyaman, Vedamurthy; Adhiyaman, Sonja; Sundaram, Radha. "The Lazarus phenomenon". National Center for Biotechnology Information. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  4. 1 2 "Woman Declared Dead, Still Breathing in Morgue". Fox News. 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Walker, A.; H. McClelland; J. Brenchley (2001). "The Lazarus Documentary following recreational drug use". Emerg Med J. 18 (1): 7475. doi:10.1136/emj.18.1.74. PMC 1725503Freely accessible. PMID 11310473. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  6. Derbyshire, David (16 October 2012). "Lazarus Syndrome: Or how - as one British woman's just proved - waking from the dead is more common than you think". MailOnline. London. Archived from the original on 2013-05-20.
  7. Maeda, H; Fujita, M. Q.; Zhu, B. L.; Yukioka, H; Shindo, M; Quan, L; Ishida, K (2002). "Death following spontaneous recovery from cardiopulmonary arrest in a hospital mortuary: 'Lazarus phenomenon' in a case of alleged medical negligence". Forensic Science International. 127 (1–2): 82–7. doi:10.1016/s0379-0738(02)00107-x. PMID 12098530.
  8. "Lazarus syndrome man pronounced dead comes back to life for two days". MailOnline. London. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  9. "Embalmer finds 'dead' woman really alive". Bogota: NBC News. 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  10. Salazar, Hernando. "¿Colombiana experimentó Síndrome de Lázaro?". BBC Online (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  11. Vinesh, Derrick (26 April 2011). "Resurrection man dies". The Star Online. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  12. Lupkin, Sydney (22 August 2013). "Ohio Man Declared Dead Comes Back to Life". Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  13. McLaughlin, Eliott (28 February 2014). "Dead Mississippi man begins breathing in embalming room, coroner says". CNN. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  14. Ford, Dana (13 March 2014). "Mississippi man who awoke in body bag dies two weeks later". CNN. Retrieved 13 March 2014.

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