The use of ECMO in ICU. Recommendations of the Spanish Society of Critical Care Medicine and Coronary Units

Med Intensiva (Engl Ed). 2019 Mar;43(2):108-120. doi: 10.1016/j.medin.2018.09.017. Epub 2018 Nov 24.
[Article in English, Spanish]


The use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation systems has increased significantly in recent years; given this reality, the Spanish Society of Critical Intensive Care Medicine and Coronary Units (SEMICYUC) has decided to draw up a series of recommendations that serve as a framework for the use of this technique in intensive care units. The three most frequent areas of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation systems use in our setting are: as a cardiocirculatory support, as a respiratory support and for the maintenance of the abdominal organs in donors. The SEMICYUC appointed a series of experts belonging to the three working groups involved (Cardiological Intensive Care and CPR, Acute Respiratory Failure and Transplant work group) that, after reviewing the existing literature until March 2018, developed a series of recommendations. These recommendations were posted on the SEMICYUC website to receive suggestions from the intensivists and finally approved by the Scientific Committee of the Society. The recommendations, based on current knowledge, are about which patients may be candidates for the technique, when to start it and the necessary infrastructure conditions of the hospital centers or, the conditions for transfer to centers with experience. Although from a physiopathological point of view, there are clear arguments for the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation systems, the current scientific evidence is weak, so studies are needed that define more precisely which patients benefit most from the technique and when they should start.

Keywords: Cardiogenic shock; Depuración extracorpórea de anhídrido carbónico; Donación en asistolia; Extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Hipoxemia refractaria; Non heart beating donation; Oxigenación con membrana extracorpórea; Refractory hypoxemia; Shock cardiogénico.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Care / standards*
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units