In-hospital and 6-month outcomes in patients with COVID-19 supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (EuroECMO-COVID): a multicentre, prospective observational study

Lancet Respir Med. 2023 Feb;11(2):151-162. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(22)00403-9. Epub 2022 Nov 16.


Background: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been widely used in patients with COVID-19, but uncertainty remains about the determinants of in-hospital mortality and data on post-discharge outcomes are scarce. The aims of this study were to investigate the variables associated with in-hospital outcomes in patients who received ECMO during the first wave of COVID-19 and to describe the status of patients 6 months after ECMO initiation.

Methods: EuroECMO-COVID is a prospective, multicentre, observational study developed by the European Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. This study was based on data from patients aged 16 years or older who received ECMO support for refractory COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic-from March 1 to Sept 13, 2020-at 133 centres in 21 countries. In-hospital mortality and mortality 6 months after ECMO initiation were the primary outcomes. Mixed-Cox proportional hazards models were used to investigate associations between patient and management-related variables (eg, patient demographics, comorbidities, pre-ECMO status, and ECMO characteristics and complications) and in-hospital deaths. Survival status at 6 months was established through patient contact or institutional charts review. This study is registered with, NCT04366921, and is ongoing.

Findings: Between March 1 and Sept 13, 2020, 1215 patients (942 [78%] men and 267 [22%] women; median age 53 years [IQR 46-60]) were included in the study. Median ECMO duration was 15 days (IQR 8-27). 602 (50%) of 1215 patients died in hospital, and 852 (74%) patients had at least one complication. Multiorgan failure was the leading cause of death (192 [36%] of 528 patients who died with available data). In mixed-Cox analyses, age of 60 years or older, use of inotropes and vasopressors before ECMO initiation, chronic renal failure, and time from intubation to ECMO initiation of 4 days or more were associated with higher in-hospital mortality. 613 patients did not die in hospital, and 547 (95%) of 577 patients for whom data were available were alive at 6 months. 102 (24%) of 431 patients had returned to full-time work at 6 months, and 57 (13%) of 428 patients had returned to part-time work. At 6 months, respiratory rehabilitation was required in 88 (17%) of 522 patients with available data, and the most common residual symptoms included dyspnoea (185 [35%] of 523 patients) and cardiac (52 [10%] of 514 patients) or neurocognitive (66 [13%] of 512 patients) symptoms.

Interpretation: Patient's age, timing of cannulation (<4 days vs ≥4 days from intubation), and use of inotropes and vasopressors are essential factors to consider when analysing the outcomes of patients receiving ECMO for COVID-19. Despite post-discharge survival being favourable, persisting long-term symptoms suggest that dedicated post-ECMO follow-up programmes are required.

Funding: None.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation*
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies

Associated data