Rationale: Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) requiring invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO₂R) may facilitate extubation and ambulation in these patients and potentially improve outcomes.
Objectives: We assessed the feasibility of achieving early extubation and ambulation in subjects requiring IMV for exacerbations of COPD using single-site ECCO₂R.
Methods: Five subjects with exacerbations of COPD with uncompensated hypercapnia requiring IMV were enrolled in this single-center, prospective, feasibility trial using a protocol of ECCO₂R, extubation, and physical rehabilitation. The primary endpoint was extubation within 72 hours of starting ECCO₂R.
Measurements and main results: Mean preintubation pH and PaCO₂ were 7.23 ± 0.05 and 81.6 ± 15.9 mm Hg, respectively. All subjects met the primary endpoint (median duration, 4 h; range, 1.5-21.5 h). Mean duration of extracorporeal support was 193.0 ± 76.5 hours. Mean time to ambulation after extracorporeal initiation was 29.4 ± 12.6 hours. Mean maximal ambulation on extracorporeal support was 302 feet (range, 70-600). Four subjects were discharged home, and one underwent planned lung transplantation. Two minor bleeding complications occurred. There were no complications from mobilization on extracorporeal support.
Conclusions: ECCO₂R facilitates early extubation and ambulation in exacerbations of COPD requiring IMV and has the potential to serve as a new paradigm for the management of a select group of patients. Rigorous clinical trials are needed to corroborate these results and to investigate the effect on long-term outcomes and cost effectiveness over conventional management.