The Use of Venovenous Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation in COVID-19 Infection: One Region's Comprehensive Experience

Zachary R. Bergman, Jillian K. Wothe, Fatima S. Alwan, Alex Dunn, Elizabeth R. Lusczek, Arianna E. Lofrano, Kelly M. Tointon, Melissa Doucette, John K. Bohman, Ramiro Saavedra Romero, Matthew E. Prekker, Melissa E. Brunsvold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) unresponsive to conventional intensive care unit (ICU) management is an accepted indication for venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (V-V ECMO) support. The frequency with which patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia are selected for V-V ECMO has not been described. This was a cohort study including all patients placed on either V-V ECMO or venoarteriovenous ECMO at the four adult ECMO Centers of Excellence. Primary outcomes evaluated were survival to decannulation from the ECMO circuit, survival to discharge, and 60-day survival. Secondary outcomes were hospital length of stay (LOS), ICU LOS, length of ECMO cannulation, and length of intubation. During the study period, which corresponded to the first surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota, 35 patients with ARDS were selected for V-V ECMO support out of 1,849 adult ICU patients with COVID-19 infection in the state (1.9% incidence; 95% CI, 1.3-2.6%). This represents 46 (95% CI, 34-61) expected V-V ECMO patients per 100,000 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Twenty-six of the 35 patients (74.3%) supported with V-V ECMO survived to 60-day post-ECMO decannulation. Recent studies have demonstrated ongoing success rescuing patients with severe ARDS in COVID-19 infection. Our data add to the support of ECMO and the consideration for encouraging cooperation among regional ECMO centers to ensure access to this highest level of care. Finally, by evaluating all the patients of a single region, we estimate overall need for this resource intensive intervention based on the overall number of COVID-19 cases and ICU admissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
JournalASAIO Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © ASAIO 2021.


  • COVID-19
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • coronavirus
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation


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