Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for COVID-19-associated Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Chile: A Nationwide Incidence and Cohort Study

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2021 Jul 1;204(1):34-43. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202011-4166OC.


Rationale: The role of and needs for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) at a population level during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have not been completely established. Objectives: To identify the cumulative incidence of ECMO use in the first pandemic wave and to describe the Nationwide Chilean cohort of ECMO-supported patients with COVID-19. Methods: We conducted a population-based study from March 3 to August 31, 2020, using linked data from national agencies. The cumulative incidence of ECMO use and mortality risk of ECMO-supported patients were calculated and age standardized. In addition, a retrospective cohort analysis was performed. Outcomes were 90-day mortality after ECMO initiation, ECMO-associated complications, and hospital length of stay. Cox regression models were used to explore risk factors for mortality in a time-to-event analysis. Measurements and Main Results: Ninety-four patients with COVID-19 were supported with ECMO (0.42 per population of 100,000, 14.89 per 100,000 positive cases, and 1.2% of intubated patients with COVID-19); 85 were included in the cohort analysis, and the median age was 48 (interquartile range [IQR], 41-55) years, 83.5% were men, and 42.4% had obesity. The median number of pre-ECMO intubation days was 4 (IQR, 2-7), the median PaO2/FiO2 ratio was 86.8 (IQR, 64-99) mm Hg, 91.8% of patients were prone positioned, and 14 patients had refractory respiratory acidosis. Main complications were infections (70.6%), bleeding (38.8%), and thromboembolism (22.4%); 52 patients were discharged home, and 33 died. The hospital length of stay was a median of 50 (IQR, 24-69) days. Lower respiratory system compliance and higher driving pressure before ECMO initiation were associated with increased mortality. A duration of pre-ECMO intubation ≥10 days was not associated with mortality. Conclusions: Documenting nationwide ECMO needs may help in planning ECMO provision for future COVID-19 pandemic waves. The 90-day mortality of the Chilean cohort of ECMO-supported patients with COVID-19 (38.8%) is comparable to that of previous reports.

Keywords: COVID-19; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; pandemic; severe acute respiratory distress syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / therapy*
  • Chile / epidemiology
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome