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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

The Doctors are In, but the Jury is Still Out

Wacker, David, MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/CPM.0000000000000298
Critical Care/Respiratory Care
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Despite attempts to optimize outcomes in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) using mechanical ventilation and medical management, the mortality associated with this syndrome remains very high. The use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), particularly veno-venous ECMO (VV-ECMO), as a rescue therapy has grown significantly in recent decades. This review outlines the risks and benefits of ECMO for the treatment of ARDS, examines the body of evidence behind this practice, including 4 randomized controlled trials and 2 case-controlled studies, and discusses the remaining questions and directions for future research. Because VV-ECMO is far more frequently used in the treatment of ARDS than veno-arterial ECMO, referral to ECMO in this review will imply VV-ECMO unless specifically stated.

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN

Disclosure: The author declares that there is no conflicts of interest.

Address correspondence to: David Wacker, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, 420 Delaware St SE, MMC 276, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: wack0012@umn.edu.

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