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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO): Advanced Life Support Technology

Small case series describe the successful use of ECLS in patients who suffer cardiac arrest during percutaneous coronary interventions with transcatheter aortic valve implantation or during provision of therapeutic hypothermia. The ECMO community recommends that the administration of this potentially lifesaving but expensive resource should be organized at regional and national levels to provide the best care possible in high-volume dedicated centers because the inappropriate use of ECMO may markedly increase costs and expose individual patients to important risks.

From neonatal and pediatric literature, recent data suggest that ECMO centers caring for more than 20 to 25 cases per year have significantly better outcomes than centers with 10 to 20 cases per year or those institutions with fewer than 10 cases per year. The learning curve to establish competence requires at least 20 cases for optimal results. Not surprisingly, there is controversy related to these criteria. Centers referring patients with acute respiratory failure but without rapid access to a mobile ECLS or ECMO team may be trained to perform cannulation and the initiation of support in partnership with a referral center until transfer to the regional center can be arranged.

Close coordination with the receiving ECLS center is essential to maintain quality control over indications, techniques for cannulation, and maintenance of patients on ECLS. Networks of hospitals at the local, regional, or interregional level may be created around each ECLS center located in tertiary referral hospitals.

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Such networks have been successfully organized in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Australia. Coordination would proceed through the tertiary referral center.

How Extracorporeal Life Support (ECMO) Works

A mobile team should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and employ experienced personnel trained in the transport of critically ill patients, the insertion of cannulae, and circuit and patient management. The team should include a mix of physicians, transport specialists, nurses, perfusionists, and other specialists. Imaging requirements at the referring hospital should be considered, and a clinician trained in echocardiography should be considered for team membership in some transfers.

Portable ultrasound technology and expertise should also be available. Successful transportation of patients on cardiopulmonary support has been described for short and long distances by ambulance, helicopter, and fixed wing aircraft.


Where a program is maintained or a transport team is based, equipment that should be readily available has been identified. A wet-primed circuit should be available for immediate use around the clock because there is evidence that an assembled circuit can be stored for days to weeks without presenting an additional risk of infection.

It should also be possible to change the circuit, if necessary, in considerably Air Medical Journal less than but not exceeding 15 minutes in cases of sudden malfunction. In high-volume centers, primed circuits are routinely used with much less storage time than given earlier, a further advantage for concentrating patient volume with this resource intensive therapy. Efficacy and economic assessment of conventional ventilatory support versus extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for severe adult respiratory failure CESAR : a multicentre randomized controlled trial.

Referral to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation center and mortality among patients with severe influenza A H1N1. Two recent articles summarize the evolution and current status of ECMO practice. CESAR screened patients for inclusion. One hundred eighty patients were ultimately randomized with 90 patients randomized to management on ECMO at a central UK center, whereas 90 patients received conventional respiratory support as practiced at the participating tertiary care center.

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Both survival and cost analysis were applied. More patients in the ECMO referral group than the control group survived, but this difference was not statically significant. Three patients in the conventional therapy group were lost to disability evaluation during follow-up. One patient in the conventional therapy group was severely disabled.

Five patients in the ECMO group died during or involving transport. One strength in the study design was the inclusion of transport risk in the comparison. Fourteen of 17 patients who did not receive ECMO survived with critical care management alone and 43 of the 68 patients on ECMO survived up to 6 months. Single-center referral requires a transport system capable of managing these critically ill patients and may limit the generalizability of this work to other hospitals or regions.

Survival without severe disability in patients referred for ECMO assessment was realized at twice the length of stay and twice the cost. Important issues include the use of local conMarch-April ventional ventilatory management in the standard therapy group rather than a consistent critical care protocol addressing diuresis, low tidal volume ventilation, use of antibiotics, and fluid management.

Thus, the conventional therapy group could be flawed.

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  • A second more recent article featuring the same ECMO center examined the outcome of patients referred with rapidly progressive respiratory failure during the influenza A H1N1 pandemic. This study compared the mortality for patients who were referred, accepted, and transferred to UK ECMO centers for H1N1-associated respiratory failure with carefully matched patients who were not referred to an ECMO center. The hospital mortality rate was Survival curves from these data indicate a considerable number of early deaths among patients not referred to the ECMO centers.

    The benefit of ECMO persisted after repeating survival analysis and excluding data in which either the ECMO center patient or the patient receiving standard care died during the first 48 hours. The complication pattern in this ECMO group is important. Ten patients died while receiving ECMO therapy. Seven of these individuals had cerebral hemorrhage. One patient had cardiac arrest, another experienced multiorgan failure, and a third had massive pulmonary hemorrhage.

    Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) - Medical Clinical Policy Bulletins | Aetna

    Six patients died after receiving ECMO therapy and before discharge from the hospital. A variety of causes were identified. In the late mortality group, pulmonary and intracranial hemorrhage or hematologic complications either bleeding or thrombotic were common. An important value of this study lies in the homogeneity of the patients with H1N1-related respiratory failure and the rigorous statistical methods used. This observation is supported by the high early mortality in the patients receiving standard care.


    Neurological injury in patients treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Arch Neurol. This is the dark side of ECMO support. Neurologic consequences of ECMO in adults are likely common but uncharacterized. Clearly, there is opportunity for unimpaired survival in ECMO-treated adults. Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed.

    Description Table of Contents Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Industry Reviews From the book reviews: "This is a multiauthored, broad overview of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation ECMO support for various types of critical illness. Critical Care Nursing Diagnosis and Management 8e. In Stock. Incredibly Easy!

    ECMO-Extracorporeal Life Support in Adults

    Series r. Advanced Critical Care Nursing, 2e. Principles of Critical Care 4th Edition. The Washington Manual of Critical Care. Acute Care Nursing. Comprehensive Neonatal Nursing Care. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation ECMO is a form of life support that targets the heart and lungs. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for severe respiratory failure accesses and returns blood from the venous system and provides non- pulmonary gas exchange. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for severe cardiac failure or for refractory cardiac arrest extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation ECPR provides gas exchange and systemic circulation.

    The configuration of ECMO is variable , and several pump-driven and pump-free systems are in use. Use of ECMO is associated with several risks. Patient-related adverse events include haemorrhage or extremity ischaemia ; circuit -related adverse effects may include pump failure, oxygenator failure and thrombus formation. Use of ECMO in newborns and infants is well established, yet its clinical effectiveness in adults remains uncertain. The primary objective of this systematic review was to determine whether use of veno- venous VV or venous -arterial VA ECMO in adults is more effective in improving survival compared with conventional respiratory and cardiac support.

    We searched conference proceedings, meeting abstracts, reference lists of retrieved articles and databases of ongoing trials and contacted experts in the field. We imposed no restrictions on language or location of publications. Two review authors independently screened the titles and abstracts of all retrieved citations against the inclusion criteria. We independently reviewed full-text copies of studies that met the inclusion criteria. We entered all data extracted from the included studies into Review Manager. Two review authors independently performed risk of bias assessment.

    All included studies were appraised with respect to random sequence generation, concealment of allocation , blinding of outcome assessment, incomplete outcome data , selective reporting and other bias. We included four RCTs that randomly assigned participants with acute respiratory failure. We found no statistically significant differences in all-cause mortality at six months two RCTs or before six months during 30 days of randomization in one trial and during hospital stay in another RCT.

    The quality of the evidence was low to moderate, and further research is very likely to impact our confidence in the estimate of effects because significant changes have been noted in ECMO applications and treatment modalities over study periods to the present.