Impact of Heart Transplantation on Survival in Patients on Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation at Listing in France

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Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) is increasingly used as a short-term circulatory support in patients with refractory cardiogenic shock providing a bridge to long-term mechanical circulatory support or transplantation. In France, a higher priority status is granted to transplant candidates on VA-ECMO than to those on long-term mechanical circulatory support. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of transplantation as primary therapy on survival in patients on VA-ECMO at listing.


This was a retrospective analysis of data from the French national registry CRISTAL including all patients (n = 866) newly registered on the waiting list for heart transplantation between January 2010 and December 2011. We compared outcomes of 80 patients on VA-ECMO at listing to outcomes of the comparison group. In the VA-ECMO group, a Cox proportional hazard model with transplantation as a time dependent variable was used to evaluate the effect of transplantation on survival.


Patients on VA-ECMO were more often on ventilator and dialysis and had a higher bilirubin level than other candidates. One-year overall survival rate was lower in candidates from the study group (52.2%) compared with comparison group (75.5%), (P < 0.01). One-year posttransplant survival was 70% in the VA-ECMO group and 81% in comparison group (P = 0.06). In the VA-ECMO group, transplantation was associated with a lower risk of mortality (hazard ratio, 0.44; 95% confidence interval, 0.2-0.9).


Transplantation provides a survival benefit in listed patients on VA-ECMO even if posttransplant survival remains inferior than for patients without VA-ECMO. Transplantation may be considered to be an acceptable primary therapy in selected patients on VA-ECMO.

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