Selective use of entracorporeal membrane oxygenation is warranted after lung transplantation

Bryan F. Meyers, Thoralf M. Sundt, Scott Henry, Elbert P. Trulock, Tracey Guthrie, Joel D. Cooper, G. Alexander Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Objectives: Early allograft dysfunction after lung transplantation ranges from subclinical x-ray abnormalities to pulmonary edema, hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and pulmonary hypertension. Management may include extracorporeal circulation to allow recovery of the acute lung injury. We reviewed our experience with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation after lung transplantation to assess the utility of this therapy. Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed. Single or bilateral lung transplantation was performed in 444 adults from July 1988 to July 1998. Twelve (2.7%) patients experienced allograft dysfunction severe enough to require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation after failure of conventional therapy, including sedation, paralysis, and inhaled nitric oxide. Results: Seven of 12 patients requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation were discharged from the hospital. Mean and median times to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support were 1.2 days and 0 days, respectively. Mean length of support was 4.2 days. Four patients died while receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support. One patient was weaned from extracorporeal membrane oxygenation but died during the hospitalization. Two patients required acute retransplantation while receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and one survived to discharge. Three patients continued to receive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support for more than 4 days, and all 3 died. All survivors had begun receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support by post-transplantation day 1. Three of 7 patients discharged from the hospital died 12 months, 13 months, and 72 months after transplantation because of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (n = 2) or lymphoma (n = 1). Four patients are alive 2, 12, 25, and 54 months after transplantation. Conclusions: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation provides effective therapy for acute post-transplantation lung dysfunction. The frequency and pattern of our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation use reflects bias toward early extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support for isolated graft failure in otherwise intact and uninfected recipients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2000


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