Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a bridge to lung transplantation: a long-term study†

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We investigated early outcomes in patients with end-stage pulmonary disease bridged with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) with the intention to perform lung transplantation (LTx).


ECMO was used as a bridge to LTx in 20 patients between 2005 and 2013. Most patients suffered from rapid progress of disease and most failed to stabilize on mechanical ventilation. Sixteen patients (10 males, median age 42 years, range 25–59) underwent LTx after ECMO support for a median of 9 (range 1–229) days. Most patients were not on the waiting list while receiving ECMO, but after being assessed were on the waiting list for a median of 6 (range 1–72) days before LTx or death occurred. Median follow-up at 535 (range 36–3074) days was 100% complete, 9 patients have been followed for >1 year and 4 patients have been bridged during 2013.


Four patients died on ECMO waiting for a donor and as intention-to-treat, the success for bridging was 80% (16/20) and 1-year survival was 62% (10/16, not including 4 with <1-year follow-up). For those who underwent LTx, 3 patients died in-hospital after LTx on Days 0, 16 and 82, respectively, and currently, 11/16 (69%) are alive and 1-year survival for transplanted patients was 9/12 (75%). Median ICU stay before and after LTx was 9 (range 2–229) days and 20 (range 0–53) days, respectively. At follow-up, lung function was evaluated, and mean forced expiratory volume at 1 s and forced vital capacity were 56 ± 22% of predicted and 74 ± 24% of predicted, respectively.


ECMO used as a bridge to LTx results in acceptable survival in selected patients with end-stage pulmonary disease.

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