Management of vascular access for extracorporeal life support: A cohort study

Alberto Lucchini, Stefano Elli, Daniele Piovera, Mario Grossulè, Luciano Giannini, Luigi Cannizzo, Andrea Crosignani, Roberto Rona, Guseppe Foti, Marco Giani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is required for patients with refractory cardiac or respiratory failure. Inadequate securement of ECMO cannulae may lead to adverse events, ranging from line kinking to catastrophic accidents, such as air entrainment into the circuit or massive bleeding. Furthermore, the micro-motion of the cannulae at the entry site might increase the risk of local infections. Since 2015, we implemented a written protocol for management of ECMO cannulae and tubing, which specifically includes the securement of each cannula with three sutureless devices. The aim of the present study was to retrospectively assess cannulae micro-motion and the rate of bleeding events at the insertion site. Secondarily we aimed to evaluate the impact of prone positioning maneuvers during ECMO on these events. We performed a single-centre retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on nursing care of ECMO cannulae. We included adult patients treated with veno-venous (V-V) or veno-arterial (V-A) ECMO between 2015 and 2018 in our general intensive care unit. The distance between the insertion site and the end of the wire-wound part of the cannula was recorded daily. Variations of this distance (defined as “cannula micro-motion”) were recorded. Forty-five ECMO consecutive adult patients (40 V-V and 5 V-A) were included. No accidental cannula dislodgement was recorded. Median daily “cannula micro-motion” was 0.0 (−0.5 to 0.2) cm, without any significant difference between ECMO configuration, cannula type, and insertion site. Twelve patients (26%) presented at least one bleeding episode at cannula insertion site, none of which required surgical intervention. In the subgroup of patients who underwent prone positioning, no difference in cannulae micro-motion was recorded. An ECMO nursing protocol for cannulae management providing sutureless devices for cannula and tubing securement allows safe line stabilization, with the potential to reduce complications related to ECMO vascular access.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Vascular Access
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cannula
  • dressing
  • ECMO
  • nursing management
  • sutureless

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Nephrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Management of vascular access for extracorporeal life support: A cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this