Neurological complications during veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: Does the configuration matter? A retrospective analysis of the ELSO database

Crit Care. 2021 Mar 17;25(1):107. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03533-5.


Background: Single- (SL) and double-lumen (DL) catheters are used in clinical practice for veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (V-V ECMO) therapy. However, information is lacking regarding the effects of the cannulation on neurological complications.

Methods: A retrospective observational study based on data from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) registry. All adult patients included in the ELSO registry from 2011 to 2018 submitted to a single run of V-V ECMO were analyzed. Propensity score (PS) inverse probability of treatment weighting estimation for multiple treatments was used. The average treatment effect (ATE) was chosen as the causal effect estimate of outcome. The aim of the study was to evaluate differences in the occurrence and the type of neurological complications in adult patients undergoing V-V ECMO when treated with SL or DL cannulas.

Results: From a population of 6834 patients, the weighted propensity score matching included 6245 patients (i.e., 91% of the total cohort; 4175 with SL and 20,270 with DL cannulation). The proportion of patients with at least one neurological complication was similar in the SL (306, 7.2%) and DL (189, 7.7%; odds ratio 1.10 [95% confidence intervals 0.91-1.32]; p = 0.33). After weighted propensity score, the ATE for the occurrence of least one neurological complication was 0.005 (95% CI - 0.009 to 0.018; p = 0.50). Also, the occurrence of specific neurological complications, including intracerebral hemorrhage, acute ischemic stroke, seizures or brain death, was similar between groups. Overall mortality was similar between patients with neurological complications in the two groups.

Conclusions: In this large registry, the occurrence of neurological complications was not related to the type of cannulation in patients undergoing V-V ECMO.

Keywords: Cannulation; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Neurological complications; Propensity score; Respiratory failure; Seizure; V-V ECMO.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Correlation of Data
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / adverse effects*
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / methods
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Propensity Score
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies