Atelectasis after airway extubation during veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support

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Veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA ECMO) is used in cardiopulmonary failure patients to provide temporary assisted circulation. Usually, prolonged intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation are required in patients with ECMO support. We report on two cases of patients who had no pre-existing injuries of the affected lung, underwent VA ECMO support after open-heart surgery and received airway extubation (AE) or awake ECMO with the recovery of left ventricular ejection fraction. Atelectasis happened after AE and non-invasive positive pressure ventilation attenuated the atelectasis of one patient. The atelectasis of the other patient was corrected 10 hours after weaning from ECMO. Both patients were discharged successfully. Awake VA ECMO for post-cardiac surgery patients should be performed with prudence and needs further research.

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