Contemporary Outcomes of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Used as Bridge to Lung Transplantation

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Background: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), when used as bridge to lung transplantation, (BTT) identifies high-risk candidates. Recent advances in cannula design and patient selection fosters “awake ambulatory ECMO” as a viable option for critically ill candidates in an attempt to retard deconditioning while awaiting allografts. Methods: From 2012 to 2015, 30 patients underwent ECMO as BTT. Candidacy for ECMO was determined before listing for transplant. A dual-lumen single cannula was used first in 13 of 30 patients (43%). Of the remaining 30 patients, 6 (20%) were supported with venoarterial ECMO and 11 (37%) with venovenous ECMO, with double-site cannulation in 11 (37%), and 6 of 11 converted to a dual-lumen single cannula. All ECMO patients were managed in a dedicated heart/lung failure intensive care unit, and early aggressive physical therapy, ambulation, and spontaneous breathing trials were emphasized. Results: BTT was successful in 26 patients (87%). In the 19 patients with dual-lumen single cannula, 5 (26%) were successfully ambulated, and 6 (32%) achieved spontaneous ventilation. Median (25th, 75th percentile) lengths of stay in the intensive care unit and hospital were 33 days (20, 46 days) and 56 days (28, 78 days), respectively, and were 20 and 31 days, respectively, in patients successfully ambulated (intensive care unit: p = 0.5; hospital: p = 0.4). Among all patients who received a transplant, 30-day, 1-year, and 3-year survival were 92%, 85%, and 80%, respectively. Among patients undergoing primary transplants, 3-year survival was 91%. Conclusions: ECMO as BTT has led to encouraging perioperative outcomes and early survival. Careful patient selection and early use of ECMO seems to allow for preservation of vitality while these critically ill candidates await donor organs, which may improve outcomes.




Hakim, A. H., Ahmad, U., McCurry, K. R., Johnston, D. R., Pettersson, G. B., Budev, M., … Tong, M. Z. (2018). Contemporary Outcomes of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Used as Bridge to Lung Transplantation. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 106(1), 192–198.

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