The role of extracorporeal membrane oxygenator therapy in the setting of Type A aortic dissection

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Background and Aim

Patients presenting with type A aortic dissection (TAAD) present with a wide clinical spectrum ranging from hemodynamic stability to multiorgan malperfusion with cardiovascular collapse. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenator (ECMO) therapy is increasingly being utilized as salvage therapy in patients with acute cardiopulmonary failure and for post-cardiotomy shock. We sought to determine the utility of ECMO implementation post-TAAD repair.


The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) database, maintained by an independently functioning state agency, was retrospectively reviewed from 2004 to 2014. Patients with a primary diagnosis of aortic dissection requiring ECMO support during the same hospital visit were included in the analysis.


Thirty-nine patients were identified with diagnosis/procedure codes for TAAD repair and ECMO, of which four patients did not undergo TAAD repair. Of the remaining 35, 31 patients underwent open repair, and four patients underwent TEVAR. ECMO was instituted on the same day of TAAD surgery in 27 (69.2%) patients, and on post-operative day >1 in eight (20.5%) patients. Overall mortality in patients who were on ECMO the same day was 88.9% and 87.5% when it was done after the first post-operative day. All four patients with TAAD who underwent ECMO only died. Median time from ECMO implantation to death was 1.0 day.


Requirement for ECMO support in acute aortic dissection is associated with extremely high mortality irrespective of when the intervention is performed.

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