Institutional experience with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in lung transplantation

Clemens Aigner, Wilfried Wisser, Shahrokh Taghavi, Gy├Ârgy Lang, Peter Jaksch, Damian Czyzewski, Walter Klepetko
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 2007, 31 (3): 468-73; discussion 473-4

BACKGROUND: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is currently accepted in lung transplantation either to bridge patients to transplantation or to treat postoperatively arising severe primary graft failure. Based on promising initial experiences we have since 2001 implemented ECMO as the standard of intraoperative extracorporeal support in lung transplantation (LuTX) patients with haemodynamic or respiratory instability with the potential to prolong ECMO support into the perioperative period. The aim of this paper is to summarise our total experience with the use of ECMO in LuTX.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed all 306 patients undergoing primary lung transplantation from 1/2001 to 1/2006 with regard to the different forms of ECMO use. Results of all patients requiring ECMO were compared to those without ECMO during the observation period.

RESULTS: ECMO was used in 147 patients in total. Two patients were bridged to transplantation. A total of 130 patients received intraoperative ECMO support. In 51 of these patients ECMO was prolonged into the perioperative period. Five of these patients required ECMO support again in the postoperative period due to graft dysfunction. Contrary cardiopulmonary bypass was used in 27 patients mainly with concomitant cardiac defects. Eleven of these patients needed therapeutic ECMO in the further course. A total of 149 patients without relevant risk factors were transplanted without any intraoperative extracorporeal support. Six of these patients required ECMO support in the postoperative period for treatment of primary graft dysfunction. Overall 3-month, 1-year and 3-year survival rates were 88.6%, 82.1% and 74.63%. The mentioned survival rates were 85.4%, 74.2% and 67.6% in the intraoperative+/-prolonged ECMO group; 93.5%, 91.9% and 86.5% in the no support group and 74.0%, 65.9% and 57.7% in the CPB group.

CONCLUSION: ECMO is a valuable tool in lung transplantation providing the potential to bridge patients to transplantation, to replace CPB with at least equal results and to overcome severe postoperative complications. Favourable survival rates can be achieved despite the fact that ECMO is used in the more complex patient population undergoing lung transplantation as well as to overcome already established severe complications.

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