Peripheral extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: Comprehensive therapy for high-risk massive pulmonary embolism

Ramin Malekan, Paul C. Saunders, Cindy J. Yu, Kathy A. Brown, Alan L. Gass, David Spielvogel, Steven L. Lansman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Although commonly reserved as a last line of defense, experienced centers have reported excellent results with pulmonary embolectomy for massive and submassive pulmonary embolism (PE). We present a contemporary surgical series for PE that demonstrates the utility of peripheral extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (pECMO) for high-risk surgical candidates. Methods: Between June 2005 and April 2011, 29 patients were treated for massive or submassive pulmonary embolism, with surgical embolectomy performed in 26. Four high-risk patients were placed on pECMO, established by percutaneously cannulating the right atrium through a femoral vein and perfusing by a Dacron graft anastomosed to the axillary artery. A small, extracorporeal, rotary assist device was used, interposing a compact oxygenator in the circuit, and maintaining anticoagulation with heparin. Results: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was weaned in 3 of 4 patients after 5.3 days (5, 5, and 6), with normalization of right ventricular dysfunction and pulmonary artery pressure (44.0 ± 2.0 to 24.5 ± 5.5 mm Hg) by ECHO. Follow-up computed tomographies showed several peripheral, nearly resorbed emboli in 1 case and complete resolution in 2 others. The fourth patient, not improving after 10 days, underwent surgery where an embolic liposarcoma was extracted. For all 29 cases, hospital and 30-day mortality was 0% and all patients were discharged, with average postoperative length of stay of 15 days for embolectomy and 17 days for pECMO. Conclusions: Heparin therapy with pECMO support is a rapid, effective option for patients who might benefit from pulmonary embolectomy but are at high risk for surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-108
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Volume94
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

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