Despite attempts to optimize outcomes in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) using mechanical ventilation and medical management, the mortality associated with this syndrome remains very high. The use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), particularly veno-venous ECMO (VV-ECMO), as a rescue therapy has grown significantly in recent decades. This review outlines the risks and benefits of ECMO for the treatment of ARDS, examines the body of evidence behind this practice, including 4 randomized controlled trials and 2 case-controlled studies, and discusses the remaining questions and directions for future research. Because VV-ECMO is far more frequently used in the treatment of ARDS than veno-arterial ECMO, referral to ECMO in this review will imply VV-ECMO unless specifically stated.
- acute respiratory distress syndrome
- extracorporeal membrane oxygenation