Bleeding and thrombotic events in patients with severe COVID-19 supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: a nationwide cohort study

Intensive Care Med. 2022 Aug;48(8):1039-1052. doi: 10.1007/s00134-022-06794-y. Epub 2022 Jul 13.


Purpose: To describe bleeding and thrombotic events and their risk factors in patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to evaluate their impact on in-hospital mortality.

Methods: The ECMOSARS registry included COVID-19 patients supported by ECMO in France. We analyzed all patients included up to March 31, 2022 without missing data regarding bleeding and thrombotic events. The association of bleeding and thrombotic events with in-hospital mortality and pre-ECMO variables was assessed using multivariable logistic regression models.

Results: Among 620 patients supported by ECMO, 29% had only bleeding events, 16% only thrombotic events and 20% both bleeding and thrombosis. Cannulation site (18% of patients), ear nose and throat (12%), pulmonary bleeding (9%) and intracranial hemorrhage (8%) were the most frequent bleeding types. Device-related thrombosis and pulmonary embolism/thrombosis accounted for most of thrombotic events. In-hospital mortality was 55.7%. Bleeding events were associated with in-hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio (adjOR) = 2.91[1.94-4.4]) but not thrombotic events (adjOR = 1.02[0.68-1.53]). Intracranial hemorrhage was strongly associated with in-hospital mortality (adjOR = 13.5[4.4-41.5]). Ventilation duration before ECMO ≥ 7 days and length of ECMO support were associated with bleeding. Thrombosis-associated factors were fibrinogen ≥ 6 g/L and length of ECMO support.

Conclusions: In a nationwide cohort of COVID-19 patients supported by ECMO, bleeding incidence was high and associated with mortality. Intracranial hemorrhage incidence was higher than reported for non-COVID patients and carried the highest risk of death. Thrombotic events were less frequent and not associated with mortality. Length of ECMO support was associated with a higher risk of both bleeding and thrombosis, supporting the development of strategies to minimize ECMO duration.

Trial registration: NCT04397588.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; Bleeding; COVID-19; ECMO; Thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation* / adverse effects
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / epidemiology
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombosis* / epidemiology
  • Thrombosis* / etiology


  • Anticoagulants

Associated data