Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for COVID-19 Respiratory Distress Syndrome: An Italian Society for Cardiac Surgery Report

A. Loforte, M. Di Mauro, C. Pellegrini, C. Monterosso, S. Pelenghi, A. Degani, M. Rinaldi, E. Cura Stura, G. Sales, G. Montrucchio, D. Mangino, A. Terrini, D. Pacini, A. Affronti, V. Tarzia, T. Bottio, A. Pantaleo, F. Donatelli, A. Miceli, F. SantiniA. Salsano, A. Colli, G. Ravenni, A. Montalto, F. Musumeci, L. Salvador, G. Gerosa, A. Parolari, M. Picichè, endorsed by the Italian Society for Cardiac Surgery (SICCH)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An increased need of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support is going to become evident as treatment of SARS-CoV-2 respiratory distress syndrome. This is the first report of the Italian Society for Cardiac Surgery (SICCH) on preliminary experience with COVID-19 patients receiving ECMO support. Data from 12 Italian hospitals participating in SICCH were retrospectively analyzed. Between March 1 and September 15, 2020, a veno-venous (VV) ECMO system was installed in 67 patients (94%) and a veno-arterio-venous ECMO in four (6%). Five patients required VA ECMO after initial weaning from VV ECMO. Thirty (42.2%) patients were weaned from ECMO, while 39 (54.9%) died on ECMO, and six (8.5%) died after ECMO removal. Overall hospital survival was 36.6% (n = 26). Main causes of death were multiple organ failure (n = 14, 31.1%) and sepsis (n = 11, 24.4%). On multivariable analysis, predictors of death while on ECMO support were older age (p = 0.048), elevated pre-ECMO C-reactive protein level (p = 0.048), higher positive end-expiratory pressure on ventilator (p = 0.036) and lower lung compliance (p = 0.032). If the conservative treatment is not effective, ECMO support might be considered as life-saving rescue therapy for COVID-19 refractory respiratory failure. However warm caution and thoughtful approaches for timely detection and treatment should be taken for such a delicate patients population. Copyright © ASAIO 2021.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-391
Number of pages7
JournalASAIO J
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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