Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as a treatment strategy for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in the low tidal volume era: A systematic review

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate the hospital survival in patients with severe ARDS managed with ECMO and low tidal volume ventilation as compared to patients managed with low tidal volume ventilation alone.

Methods:

Electronic databases were searched for studies of at least 10 adult patients with severe ARDS comparing the use of ECMO with low tidal volume ventilation to mechanical ventilation with a low tidal volume alone. Only studies reporting hospital or ICU survival were included. All identified studies were assessed independently by two reviewers.

Results:

Of 1782 citations, 27 studies (n = 1674) met inclusion criteria. Hospital survival for ECMO patients ranged from 33.3 to 86%, while survival with conventional therapy ranged from 36.3 to 71.2%. Five studies were identified with appropriate control groups allowing comparison, but due to the high degree of variability between studies (I2 = 63%), their results could not be pooled. Two of these studies demonstrated a significant difference, both favouring ECMO over conventional therapy.

Conclusion:

Given the lack of studies with appropriate control groups, our confidence in a difference in outcome between the two therapies remains weak. Future studies on the use of ECMO for severe ARDS are needed to clarify the role of ECMO in this disease.

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