BACKGROUND: Blastomyces is a dimorphic fungus endemic to regions of North America, which can lead to pneumonia and fatal severe acute respiratory diseases syndrome in up to 89% of patients. Extracorporeal life support can provide adequate oxygenation while allowing the lungs to rest and heal, which might be an ideal therapy in this patient group, although long-term clinical and radiological outcomes are not known.
CLINICAL FEATURES: We report on five consecutive patients admitted to Toronto General Hospital intensive care unit between January 2012 and September 2016, with progressive respiratory failure requiring veno-venous extracorporeal life support within 24-96 hours following mechanical ventilation. Ultra-lung protective mechanical ventilation was achieved within 24 hours. Recovery was the initial goal in all patients. Extracorporeal life support was provided for a prolonged period (up to 49 days), and four patients were successfully discharged from the intensive care unit. Long-term radiological assessment in three patients showed major improvement within 2 years of follow-up with some persistent disease-related changes (bronchiectasis, fibrosis, and cystic changes). In two patients, long-term functional and neuropsychological outcomes showed similar limitations to what is seen in acute respiratory distress syndrome patients who are not supported with extracorporeal life support and in acute respiratory distress syndrome patients without blastomycosis, but worse pulmonary function outcomes in the form of obstructive and restrictive changes that correlated with the radiological imaging.
CONCLUSION: Veno-venous extracorporeal life support can effectively provide prolonged support for patients with blastomycosis-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome that is safe and associated with favorable long-term outcomes.