Novel use of the AngioVac® system to remove thrombus during simultaneous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation life support

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) was introduced to clinical medicine over 40 years ago. While initially used as a treatment for acute respiratory failure in infants, the use of ECMO has grown to include respiratory and circulatory failure in both children and adults, cardiogenic shock, pulmonary embolism, sepsis, trauma, malignancy, pulmonary hemorrhage and as a treatment for hypothermic drowning.1 Recent technological improvements in ECMO circuitry make it possible to minimize anticoagulation of the ECMO patient, decreasing the incidence of bleeding. Thrombus deposition within the ECMO circuit can be a life-threating complication. ECMO circuit thrombus can be contained in the circuit, adherent to cannula and deposited within the patient. The ability to remove thrombus while the patient remains on ECMO support could be a life-saving measure for some patients. The present case report outlines use of the AngioVac® thrombus removal system in concert with ECMO to remove a large thrombus adherent to an ECMO cannula.

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