Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in the management of post-pneumonectomy air leak and adult respiratory distress syndrome of the non-operated lung

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Post-pneumonectomy air leak and severe respiratory failure of the non-operated lung is considered to be a life-threatening complication of lung surgery. We present the case report of a 68-year-old man who underwent a right pneumonectomy for spinocellular carcinoma. Refractory respiratory failure occurred following bronchial stump air leakage and adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) of the non-operated lung. Established veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV ECMO) was utilized to maintain tissue oxygenation while re-do surgery was performed. The leaking bronchial stump was closed with an azygos vein patch and, subsequently, weaning off ECMO was accomplished 7 days later. The patient fully recovered and he is limited only by mild exertional dyspnea at 24 months follow-up after the initial surgery.

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