Subclavian Artery Cannulation for Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

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Femoral artery cannulation for venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be associated with ischemic and neurologic complications. The subclavian artery offers an alternative cannulation site, which is helpful in patients with peripheral vascular disease, in those who have sustained pelvic trauma, or when ambulation is anticipated. This is a single-institution review of 20 adults who were placed on venoarterial ECMO using subclavian arterial cannulation over a 2 year period. Technical success with subclavian venoarterial ECMO was 100%. Median ECMO time was 168 hours (2.4–720 hours). Sufficient flows (median 4.24 L/min), oxygenation (median postcannulation PaO2 315 mm Hg), and ventricular unloading confirmed with intraoperative transesophageal echocardiogram were achieved in all patients. Seventy-five percent of patients were decannulated, 50% were extubated, and 45% were discharged. Seven patients (35%) had an entirely upper body ECMO configuration with the internal jugular vein serving as the venous drainage site. Complications included arterial cannula site hematoma and infection, as well as ipsilateral arm swelling. Each required conversion to femoral artery cannulation. There were no ischemic or neurologic complications. Patients with acute cardiopulmonary failure can safely be placed on subclavian venoarterial ECMO for prolonged periods with full flows, adequate oxygenation, and sufficient ventricular unloading.

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