Physiologic benefits of veno-pulmonary extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for COVID-19 ARDS: A single center experience

John C. Grotberg, Jon Greenberg, Mary Sullivan, Amit A. Pawale, Kunal D. Kotkar, Muhammad F. Masood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A subset of patients with COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Veno-pulmonary (VP) ECMO provides support to the right ventricle and decreased risk of recirculation. Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients with COVID-19 ARDS and VP ECMO was performed. Patients were separated into groups by indication (1) “right ventricular (RV) failure,” (2) “refractory hypoxemia,” and (3) “recurrent suck-down events (SDEs).” Pre- and post-configuration vasoactive inotropic scores (VIS), fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2), and resolution of SDEs were reported. A 90-day mortality was computed for all groups. Patients were also compared to those who underwent conventional venovenous (VV) ECMO. Results: Forty-seven patients underwent VP ECMO configuration, 18 in group 1, 16 in group 2, and 8 in group 3. Ninety-day mortality was 66% for the entire cohort and was 77.8%, 81.3% and 37.5% for groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Mean VIS decreased in group 1 (8.3 vs 2.9, p = 0.005), while mean FIO2 decreased in the group 2 and was sustained at 72 h (82.5% vs 52.5% and 47.5%, p < 0.001). Six of the eight (75%) of patients with recurrent SDEs had resolution of these events after configuration to VP ECMO. Patients with VP ECMO spent more days on ECMO (33 days compared to 18 days, p = 0.004) with no difference in mortality (66% compared to 55.1%, p = 0.28). Conclusion: VP ECMO in COVID-19 ARDS improves hemodynamics in patients with RV failure, improves oxygenation in patients with refractory hypoxemia and improves the frequency of SDEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Organs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • ARDS
  • ECMO
  • artificial lung
  • hemodynamic effects
  • mechanical ventilation


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