Improvements in Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Primary Graft Failure After Heart Transplant

Aaron Guo, Kunal Kotkar, Joel Schilling, Brandon Jocher, Irene Fischer, Muhammad F. Masood, Akinobu Itoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Severe primary graft failure is a life-threatening complication of heart transplantation that may require venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) support. Surgical practices and management strategies regarding VA-ECMO vary between and within centers. Methods: We performed a single-center retrospective cohort study on adult patients who received VA-ECMO for primary graft failure between 2013 and 2020. Clinical data were obtained from chart review and national databases. Patients were stratified by transplantation before or after 2017, when our center adopted additional objective criteria for VA-ECMO, adopted partial-flow support, and changed from central cannulation to chimney graft arterial cannulation of brachiocephalic, axillary, or aorta. The primary outcome was survival to device weaning. Secondary outcomes were survival to discharge, survival to 1 year, complications on support, and time to sedation weaning and extubation. Results: From 276 heart transplant recipients, 39 severe primary graft failure patients requiring VA-ECMO were identified. Incidence of graft failure was 13% (n = 18 of 135) pre-2017 and 15% (n = 21 of 141) post-2017. Survival at all time points improved significantly after 2017, with greatest difference in survival to device weaning (61% pre-2017 vs 100% post-2017). After controlling for other factors in multivariable Cox regression modeling, transplantation after 2017 was a predictor of reduced mortality (hazard ratio, 0.209; 95% CI, 0.06-0.71; P = .01). Significant differences were not observed in other secondary outcomes of recovery. Conclusions: The new VA-ECMO strategy displayed reasonable survival and a remarkable improvement from the prior system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-757
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Improvements in Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Primary Graft Failure After Heart Transplant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this