Perioperative Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: The Defibrillator of the 21st Century? A Case Report

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Veno-arterial-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECMO-CPR) has been recommended by new resuscitation guidelines in the United Kingdom. Our recently established yet unfunded ECMO-CPR service has thus far treated 6 patients, with 3 making a good recovery. One patient suffered a catastrophic perioperative complication through glycine absorption and we are in no doubt that she would not have survived without ECMO. We argue for a pragmatic approach to funding of ECMO-CPR because observational evidence suggests superiority over traditional resuscitation and there exists major methodological and ethical barriers to randomized controlled studies. We also call for high-quality observational evidence in the perioperative setting.

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