Bridge to lung transplantation by venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: a lesson learned on the first four cases

Transplant Proc. 2010 May;42(4):1259-61. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2010.03.119.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is the only therapeutic option for patients with ventilation-refractory hypercapnia while awaiting lung transplantation. Moreover, there is increasing success using ECMO for definitive respiratory failure in formerly healthy patients. This report describes the use of membrane oxygenation as a bridge to lung transplantation in 2 patients on the waiting list and in 2 previously healthy patients. Our experience showed that coagulation management, critical illness myopathy, and psychological disorders were the most critical problems. One patient died at 2 days after transplantation, 1 at 3 months, and 2 returned to their pretransplantation activities. We concluded that ECMO is an adequate bridge to lung transplantation but, especially in formerly healthy patients, an awake procedure is advisable for a successful outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists*
  • Young Adult