Utilization and Outcomes of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Following Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States

J Intensive Care Med. 2023 May;38(5):440-448. doi: 10.1177/08850666221139223. Epub 2022 Nov 29.


Objectives: Describe contemporary ECMO utilization patterns among patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and examine clinical outcomes among TBI patients requiring ECMO. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Premier Healthcare Database (PHD) between January 2016 to June 2020. Subjects: Adult patients with TBI who were mechanically ventilated and stratified by exposure to ECMO. Results: Among patients exposed to ECMO, we examined the following clinical outcomes: hospital LOS, ICU LOS, duration of mechanical ventilation, and hospital mortality. Of our initial cohort (n = 59,612), 118 patients (0.2%) were placed on ECMO during hospitalization. Most patients were placed on ECMO within the first 2 days of admission (54.3%). Factors associated with ECMO utilization included younger age (OR 0.96, 95% CI (0.95-0.97)), higher injury severity score (ISS) (OR 1.03, 95% CI (1.01-1.04)), vasopressor utilization (2.92, 95% CI (1.90-4.48)), tranexamic acid utilization (OR 1.84, 95% CI (1.12-3.04)), baseline comorbidities (OR 1.06, 95% CI (1.03-1.09)), and care in a teaching hospital (OR 3.04, 95% CI 1.31-7.05). A moderate degree (ICC = 19.5%) of variation in ECMO use was explained at the individual hospital level. Patients exposed to ECMO had longer median (IQR) hospital and ICU length of stay (LOS) [26 days (11-36) versus 9 days (4-8) and 19.5 days (8-32) versus 5 days (2-11), respectively] and a longer median (IQR) duration of mechanical ventilation [18 days (8-31) versus 3 days (2-8)]. Patients exposed to ECMO experienced a hospital mortality rate of 33.9%, compared to 21.2% of TBI patients unexposed to ECMO. Conclusions: ECMO utilization in mechanically ventilated patients with TBI is rare, with significant variation across hospitals. The impact of ECMO on healthcare utilization and hospital mortality following TBI is comparable to non-TBI conditions requiring ECMO. Further research is necessary to better understand the role of ECMO following TBI and identify patients who may benefit from this therapy.

Keywords: ARDS; ECMO; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / therapy
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology