Background: Hypercapnic respiratory failure in patients with COPD frequently requires mechanical ventilatory support. Extracorporeal CO2 removal (ECCO2R) techniques have not been systematically evaluated in these patients.
Methods: This is a pilot study of a novel ECCO2R device that utilizes a single venous catheter with high CO2 removal rates at low blood flows. Twenty hypercapnic patients with COPD received ECCO2R. Group 1 (n = 7) consisted of patients receiving noninvasive ventilation with a high likelihood of requiring invasive ventilation, group 2 (n = 2) consisted of patients who could not be weaned from noninvasive ventilation, and group 3 (n = 11) consisted of patients on invasive ventilation who had failed attempts to wean.
Results: The device was well tolerated, with complications and rates similar to those seen with central venous catheterization. Blood flow through the system was 430.5 ± 73.7 mL/min, and ECCO2R was 82.5 ± 15.6 mL/min and did not change significantly with time. Invasive ventilation was avoided in all patients in group 1 and both patients in group 2 were weaned; PaCO2 decreased significantly (P < .003) with application of the device from 78.9 ± 16.8 mm Hg to 65.9 ± 11.5 mm Hg. In group 3, three patients were weaned, while the level of invasive ventilatory support was reduced in three patients. One patient in group 3 died due to a retroperitoneal bleed following catheterization.
Conclusions: This single-catheter, low-flow ECCO2R system provided clinically useful levels of CO2 removal in these patients with COPD. The system appears to be a potentially valuable additional modality for the treatment of hypercapnic respiratory failure.