Cannulate, extubate, ambulate approach for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for COVID-19

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Mar 11;S0022-5223(22)00249-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2022.02.049. Online ahead of print.


Objective: We compared outcomes in patients with severe COVID-19 versus non-COVID-19-related acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) managed using a dynamic, goal-driven approach to venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

Methods: We performed a retrospective, single-center analysis of our institutional ECMO registry using data from 2017 to 2021. We used Kaplan-Meier plots, Cox proportional hazard models, and propensity score analyses to evaluate the association of COVID-19 status (COVID-19-related ARDS vs non-COVID-19 ARDS) and survival to decannulation, discharge, tracheostomy, and extubation. We also conducted subgroup analyses to compare outcomes with the use of extracorporeal cytoreductive techniques (CytoSorb [CytoSorbents Corp] and plasmapheresis).

Results: The sample comprised 128 patients, 50 with COVID-19 and 78 with non-COVID-19 ARDS. Advancing age was associated with decreased probability of survival to decannulation (P = .04). Compared with the non-COVID-19 ARDS group, patients with COVID-19 had a greater probability of survival to extubation (P < .01) and comparable survival to discharge (P = .14).

Conclusions: Patients with COVID-19 managed with ECMO had comparable outcomes as patients with non-COVID ARDS. A strategy of early extubation and ambulation might be a safe and effective strategy to improve outcomes and survival, even for patients with severe COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; decannulation; discharge; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; extubation; survival; tracheostomy.