[Health-related quality of life. Long-term survival in patients with ARDS following extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)]

C Stoll, M Haller, J Briegel, M Meier, W Manert, T Hummel, M Heyduck, A Lenhart, J Polasek, M Bullinger, G Schelling
Der Anaesthesist 1998, 47 (1): 24-9

UNLABELLED: Treatment of severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be lifesaving but requires maximal use of intensive care resources over prolonged periods of time, resulting in high costs. Little is known about the health-related quality of life (HRQL) in long-term survivors. This case-controlled retrospective study was designed to assess the health-related quality of life in long-term survivors of ARDS and ECMO-therapy.

METHODS: 14 long-term survivors of ARDS (APACHE II score = 24, Lung Injury Score = 3.25, median values) treated using ECMO between 1992 and 1995 (median time interval between data collection and discharge from the ICU 16 months) and 14 ARDS-patients conventionally treated during the same period (group I) were identified and completed the SF-36 Health Status Questionnaire (Medical Outcome Trust, Boston, USA). 14 healthy subjects (group II) were drawn at random from a large data base generated to provide normal values for the SF-36 in a German population. All three groups were comparable with respect to sex and age.

RESULTS: Long-term survivors of ECMO-therapy reported significant reductions in physical functioning when compared with patients treated by mechanical ventilation alone (group I, -12.5%, p < 0.05) and with healthy controls (group II, -50%, p < 0.05) and showed a higher incidence of chronic physical pain (+5% and +24%, respectively, p < 0.05). There were no differences with regard to the mental health dimensions of the SF-36 (e.g. vitality, mental health index or social functioning) between ECMO-patients and all controls. Nine patients (64.3%) from the ECMO group versus all patients treated conventionally (group I) had full-time employment (p = 0.46, Chi2 test).

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of long-term survivors of ECMO-treatment show good physical and social functioning, including a high rate of employment. The more aggressive approach of ECMO-therapy and a possibly more severe underlying disease process may explain impairments in health-related quality of life outcomes after ECMO-treatment. Despite these limitations, long-term survivors of ECMO-therapy are able to reach a highly satisfactory health-related quality of life.

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