Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Advanced Refractory Shock in Acute and Chronic Cardiomyopathy

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been used to obtain rapid resuscitation and stabilization in advanced refractory cardiogenic shock (CS), but clear strategies to optimize outcomes and minimize futile support have not been established.


We retrospectively reviewed our experience with ECMO in patients with advanced refractory CS, after an acute myocardial infarct (AMI) compared with patients receiving ECMO after an acute decompensating chronic cardiomyopathy (CCM).


Between January 2003 and February 2009, 33 patients required ECMO support for advanced refractory CS secondary to AMI (AMI-CS) and 9 patients were supported by ECMO in the presence of an acutely decompensated CCM (CCM-CS). Survival at 30 days, 1 and 2 years for patients with AMI-CS, was 64%, 48%, and 48% compared with 56%, 11%, and 11% at the same time points for those with CCM-CS (p = 0.05). In the AMI-CS group, 14 of 33 (42%) patients were weaned directly from ECMO after revascularization; 15 of 33 (45%) patients were bridged to ventricular assist device (VAD) support and subsequently either underwent heart transplantation (n = 6), were successfully weaned from VAD (n = 2) or died while on VAD support (n = 7). In the CCM-CS group, 7 patients were bridged to VAD support (77%), with 1 patient surviving after VAD weaning.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in advanced refractory AMI-CS is associated with acceptable outcomes in a well-selected population. The ECMO in patients with an acute decompensation of a chronic CM should be carefully considered, to avoid futile support.

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