Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a bridge to lung transplantation in the United States: An evolving strategy in the management of rapidly advancing pulmonary disease

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Improvements in technology have led to a resurgence in the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a bridge to lung transplantation. By using a national registry, we sought to evaluate how short-term survival has evolved using this strategy.


With the use of the United Network for Organ Sharing database, we analyzed data from 12,458 adults who underwent lung transplantation between 2000 and 2011. Patients were categorized into 2 cohorts: 119 patients who were bridged to transplantation using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and 12,339 patients who were not. The study period was divided into four 3-year intervals: 2000 to 2002, 2003 to 2005, 2006 to 2008, and 2009 to 2011. With Kaplan–Meier analysis, 1-year survival was compared for the 2 cohorts of patients in each of the time periods. A propensity score–adjusted Cox regression model was used to estimate the risk of 1-year mortality.


Of the total number of recipients, 4 (3.4%) were bridged between 2000 and 2002, 17 (14.3%) were bridged between 2003 and 2005, 31 (26.1%) were bridged between 2006 and 2008, and 67 were bridged (56.3%) between 2009 and 2011. Recipients bridged using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation were more likely to be younger and diabetic and to have higher serum creatinine and bilirubin levels. The 1-year survival for those bridged with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was significantly lower in subsequent periods: 25.0% versus 81.0% (2000–2002), 47.1% versus 84.2% (2006–2008), and 74.4% versus 85.7% (2009–2011). However, this survival progressively increased with each period, as did the number of patients bridged using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.


Short-term survival with the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a bridge to lung transplantation has significantly improved over the past few years.

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