Improved results treating lung allograft failure with venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Matthew G Hartwig, James Z Appel, Edward Cantu, Sinan Simsir, Shu S Lin, Chong-Chao Hsieh, Richard Walczak, Scott M Palmer, R Duane Davis
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2005, 80 (5): 1872-9; discussion 1879-80

BACKGROUND: Primary graft failure remains a significant source of mortality after lung transplantation. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) provides treatment for affected recipients. We hypothesized that venovenous membrane oxygenation provides a safer alternative than venoarterial support for lung recipients suffering from primary graft failure.

METHODS: We conducted an analysis of 522 patients who underwent lung transplantation from April 1992 to July 2004. Twenty-three (4.5%) patients required membrane oxygenation secondary to primary graft failure unresponsive to conventional treatment. Of these recipients, 15 (65%) were treated with venoarterial, while 8 (35%) underwent venovenous membrane oxygenation.

RESULTS: Median days to initiation and duration of membrane oxygenation did not differ between groups. Eight of 15 patients (53%) from the venoarterial group were successfully weaned from life support, with one surviving greater than 45 days. This lone long-term survivor required retransplantation 4 days after initial transplant. In contrast, all venovenous patients were weaned from support, with 7 of 8 surviving greater than 30 days. The 30-day survival for venovenous recipients (88%) approximates that of all lung recipients at our center (94%, p = 0.42). Noted complications for ECMO patients included renal failure (n = 16), neurologic catastrophes (n = 8), sepsis (n = 5), and hemorrhage (n = 10). The venoarterial recipients suffered 30 of 39 total complications. Most of the complications for venovenous recipients involved renal failure, but by hospital discharge these patients demonstrated a mean creatinine of 0.9 mg/dL.

CONCLUSIONS: For lung recipients with primary graft failure, venovenous membrane oxygenation provides better outcomes, with fewer complications, than venoarterial membrane oxygenation.

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