Feasibility, safety, and resource utilisation of active mobilisation of patients on extracorporeal life support: a prospective observational study

Ann Intensive Care. 2020 Dec 1;10(1):161. doi: 10.1186/s13613-020-00776-3.


Background: There is scarce evidence on the feasibility, safety and resource utilisation of active mobilisation in critically ill patients on extracorporeal life support (ECLS).

Methods: This prospective observational single-centre study included all consecutive critically ill patients on ECLS admitted to an academic centre in Germany over a time period of one year. The level of mobilisation was categorised according to the ICU Mobility Scale (IMS). Primary outcome was complications during mobilisation.

Results: During the study period, active mobilisation with an activity level on the IMS of ≥ 3 was performed at least on one occasion in 43 out of 115 patients (37.4%). A total of 332 mobilisations with IMS ≥ 3 were performed during 1242 ECLS days (26.7%). ECLS configurations applied were va-ECMO (n = 63), vv-ECMO (n = 26), vv-ECCO2R (n = 12), av-ECCO2R (n = 10), and RVAD (n = 4). Femoral cannulation had been in place in 108 patients (93.9%). The median duration of all mobilisation activities with IMS ≥ 3 was 130 min (IQR 44-215). All mobilisations were undertaken by a multi-professional ECLS team with a median number of 3 team members involved (IQR 3-4). Bleeding from cannulation site requiring transfusion and/or surgery occurred in 6.9% of actively mobilised patients and in 15.3% of non-mobilised patients. During one mobilisation episode, accidental femoral cannula displacement occurred with immediate and effective recannulation. Sedation was the major reason for non-mobilisation.

Conclusions: Active mobilisation (IMS ≥ 3) of ECLS patients undertaken by an experienced multi-professional team was feasible, and complications were infrequent and managed successfully. Larger prospective multicentre studies are needed to further evaluate early goal directed sedation and mobilisation bundles in patients on ECLS.

Keywords: ECCO2R; ECLS; ECMO; Extracorporeal life support; Mobilisation.