Objectives: Based on continuous technical innovations and recent research, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has become a promising tool in the treatment of patients with acute (cardio)pulmonary failure. Nevertheless, any extracorporeal technique requires a high degree of experience and knowledge, so that a restriction to specialized centres seems to be reasonable. As a consequence of this demand, the need for inter-hospital transfer of patients with severely impaired (cardio)pulmonary function is rising. Unfortunately, most of the ECMO devices used in the clinical setting are not suitable for inter-hospital transport because of their size, weight or complexity. In this article, we describe our first experiences with the airborne transport of 6 patients on a new portable, miniaturized and lightweight extracorporeal circulation system, the Medos deltastream® DP3.
Methods: Six patients suffering acute respiratory failure were taken on venovenous ECMO (DP3) out-of-centre and transferred to the University Medical Center Regensburg by helicopter. All cardiorespiratory-relevant parameters of the patients and the technical functioning of the device were continuously monitored and documented.
Results: Implantation of the device and air-supported transport were performed without any technical complications. The patients were transported from a distance of 66-178 km, requiring a time of 40-120 min. With the help of the new deltastream® DP3 ECMO device, a prompt stabilization of the cardiopulmonary function could be achieved in all patients. One patient was under ongoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation by the time our ECMO team arrived at the peripheral hospital and died shortly after arrival in the central emergency ward.
Conclusions: Our experience shows that the deltastream® DP3 is an absolutely reliable and safe ECMO device that could gain growing importance in the field of airborne transportation of patients on ECMO due to its unsophisticated, miniaturized and lightweight characteristics.
Keywords: Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Inter-hospital transport; Miniaturized extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.