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Extracorporeal life support for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome

Leligdowicz, Aleksandraa,b; Fan, Eddya,b

Current Opinion in Critical Care: February 2015 - Volume 21 - Issue 1 - p 13–19
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0000000000000170
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: Edited by Niall D. Ferguson

Purpose of review To provide a summary of the recent literature on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in adults with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), focusing on advances in equipment, current conventional and unconventional indications, complications, and future applications.

Recent findings ECMO use has increased during the past 5 years. Advances in cannulation, circuit design, and patient selection have made it a safer therapeutic option in severe ARDS, and its use has become more widespread for nonconventional indications.

Summary High-quality evidence for the routine use of ECMO for management of adult patients with severe ARDS is still lacking. An ongoing randomized controlled trial (ECMO to rescue lung injury in severe ARDS) will contribute valuable data to guide clinical decisions to opt for this supportive therapy.

aInterdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, University of Toronto

bThe University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Eddy Fan, MD, PhD, Toronto General Hospital, 585 University Avenue, PMB 11-123, Toronto, ON M5G 2N2, Canada. Tel: +1 416 340 4800x5061; fax: +1 647 776 3148; e-mail:

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