Introduction: We report and examine the outcomes of emergency venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support initiated via percutaneous cannulation of the femoral vessels.
Patients and methods: Fifteen patients undergoing percutaneous venoarterial ECMO under emergency circumstances between January 2009 and July 2011 were identified. The implantation technique employed the Seldinger's technique for both arterial and venous cannulae. Whenever possible antegrade perfusion of the ipsilateral lower limb was performed through percutaneous catheterization of the superficial femoral artery (SFA).
Results: ECMO support was indicated mainly for cardiac arrest (n=9, 60%) or cardiogenic shock (n=4, 27%), while two (13%) patients required ECMO support for acute respiratory failure. In five (33%) patients, ECMO was implanted during cardiopulmonary resuscitation manoeuvres. ECMO support was maintained for a mean of 4.9 days. Eight patients (53%) were successfully weaned from the device. Thirty-day mortality was 53%. Seven patients (47%) suffered early complications, namely two wound infections, one thrombosis of the venous cannula, one erroneous implantation of the arterial cannula into the femoral vein, one local dissection of the femoral artery, one retroperitoneal bleeding and one acute limb ischaemia. No long-term vascular complications were noted.
Conclusion: Percutaneous femoral cannulation for ECMO support remains a prompt approach for establishing extracorporeal circulatory support in acute cardiopulmonary failure when conditions for performing femoral vessel cut down are not optimal. However, vascular complications are frequent and carry a significant morbidity and mortality.
Keywords: ECMO; cardiac arrest; complications; outcomes.