Pumpless extracorporeal interventional lung assist in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome: a prospective pilot study

Crit Care. 2009;13(1):R10. doi: 10.1186/cc7703. Epub 2009 Jan 30.


Introduction: Pumpless interventional lung assist (iLA) is used in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) aimed at improving extracorporeal gas exchange with a membrane integrated in a passive arteriovenous shunt. In previous studies, feasibility and safety of the iLA system was demonstrated, but no survival benefit was observed. In the present pilot study we tested the hypothesis that timely initiation of iLA using clear algorithms and an improved cannulation technique will positively influence complication rates and management of lung protective ventilation.

Methods: iLA was implemented in 51 patients from multiple aetiologies meeting ARDS-criteria (American-European Consensus) for more than 12 hours. Initiation of iLA followed an algorithm for screening, careful evaluation and insertion technique. Patients with cardiac insufficiency or severe peripheral vascular disease were not considered suitable for iLA. Arterial and venous cannulae were inserted using a new strategy (ultrasound evaluation of vessels by an experienced team, using cannulae of reduced diameter). The incidence of complications and the effects on tidal volumes and inspiratory plateau pressures were primary outcome parameters, while oxygenation improvement and carbon dioxide removal capabilities were secondary study parameters.

Results: Initiation of iLA resulted in a marked removal in arterial carbon dioxide allowing a rapid reduction in tidal volume (<or= 6 ml/kg) and inspiratory plateau pressure. Adverse events occurred in 6 patients (11.9%). The hospital mortality rate was 49%.

Conclusions: The use of an indication algorithm for iLA in early ARDS, combined with a refined application technique was associated with efficient carbon dioxide removal and a reduced incidence of adverse events. iLA could serve as an extracorporeal assist to support mechanical ventilation by enabling low tidal volume and a reduced inspiratory plateau pressure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical / instrumentation
  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Extracorporeal Circulation / instrumentation
  • Extracorporeal Circulation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Respiration, Artificial / instrumentation
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*