Massive and submassive pulmonary emboli (PE) are increasingly being treated with percutaneous lytic and embolectomy procedures. While these procedures are overwhelmingly safe, patients with significant right ventricular strain are at risk for hemodynamic compromise requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). We conducted a retrospective study of all patients requiring ECMO support for PE from 2014 through 2022. The primary outcome was survival. Secondary outcomes included commonly encountered ECMO complications. From 2014 to 2022, 10 patients with submassive or massive PE required ECMO support. All 10 patients (100%) had right ventricular strain on echocardiography, 7 (70%) had a saddle PE, and 3 (30%) had extensive bilateral PE. Six (60%) patients required cardiopulmonary resuscitation prior to ECMO cannulation, and 4 (40%) were undergoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation while being cannulated. Nine (90%) patients were placed on venoarterial ECMO through the femoral vessels, while 1 (10%) was cannulated with right atrial to pulmonary artery ECMO. The median duration of support was 4 [3-8] days. During their course, 5 patients underwent percutaneous embolectomy, 1 underwent surgical embolectomy, and 4 underwent percutaneous lytic therapy. All patients (100%) survived to ECMO decannulation, and 6 (60%) survived to discharge. With a mean follow-up of 496 days, there were no postdischarge mortalities. In conclusion, although therapy for large PE is well tolerated, a small number of patients will experience periprocedural hemodynamic collapse requiring ECMO support. ECMO for PE patients is associated with acceptable morbidity and mortality. Further investigation is warranted to better characterize which patients are likely to require ECMO support.
Keywords: ECMO; pulmonary embolism.
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