Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Refractory Severe Respiratory Failure in Acute Interstitial Pneumonia

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Acute interstitial pneumonia (AIP) is a rare idiopathic interstitial lung disease with rapid progressive respiratory failure and high mortality. In the present report, three cases of AIP complicated by refractory respiratory failure supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) are presented. One male and two female patients (ages 27–59) were included. Venovenous ECMO support was provided using miniaturized systems, with two-site femoro-jugular circuit configuration. Despite lung protective ventilation, prone position and neuromuscular blockade, refractory respiratory failure of unknown etiology supervened (ratio of arterial oxygen partial pressure to fractional inspired oxygen 46–130) and ECMO was initiated after 3–7 days of mechanical ventilation. AIP diagnosis was established after exclusion of infectious and noninfectious acute respiratory distress syndrome on the basis of clinical and analytical data, bronchoalveolar lavage analysis and lung imaging, with a confirmatory surgical lung biopsy revealing diffuse alveolar damage of unknown etiology. Immunosuppressive treatment consisted in high-dose corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide in one case. Two patients survived to hospital discharge. ECMO allowed AIP diagnosis and treatment in the presence of refractory respiratory failure, therefore reducing ventilator-induced lung injury and bridging lung recovery in two patients. ECMO referral should be considered in refractory respiratory failure if AIP is suspected.

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