Relationship Between Skeletal Muscle Area and Density and Clinical Outcome in Adults Receiving Venovenous Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

Crit Care Med. 2021 Apr 1;49(4):e350-e359. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000004827.


Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of low skeletal muscle index (area normalized for height) and density, their trajectory of change, and to determine associations with clinical outcome in adults with severe respiratory failure requiring venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Design: Prospective observational study.

Patients: Adults receiving venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for a minimum of 72 hours and a maximum of 6 months between September 2010 and June 2017, who had a CT scan which included the third lumbar vertebra.

Intervention: None.

Measurements and main results: Skeletal muscle index and density was determined using Slice-O-Matic V5.0 (TomoVision, Montreal, QC, Canada). Low skeletal muscle index and density were defined using published criteria. Regression models were used to assess for associations between muscle index and density and clinical outcome. Two-hundred fifteen patients, median (interquartile range) age 46 years (35.0-57.0 yr) were included. Forty-five patients (21.1%) had low skeletal muscle index, and 48 (22.3%) had low skeletal muscle density on commencement of venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Low skeletal muscle index was more prevalent in males (28.8% vs 11.6%; χ2 = 9.4; p = 0.002) and was associated with a longer duration of venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (B = 5.0; 95% CI, 0.2-9.9; p = 0.042). Higher skeletal muscle density was independently associated with ICU survival (odds ratio 1.6 per 10 Hounsfield units; 95% CI, 1.1-2.5; p = 0.025). No relationship was observed between skeletal muscle index nor density and physical function. Adequacy of energy and protein did not influence change in skeletal muscle index or density.

Conclusions: Low skeletal muscle index at the commencement of venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was associated with a longer duration of venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, whereas preserved skeletal muscle density was associated with improved survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index*