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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2011 Jan;30(1):103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2010.08.017. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Usefulness of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a bridge to lung transplantation: a descriptive study.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



This retrospective study investigated early outcome in patients with end-stage pulmonary disease bridged with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) with the intention of lung transplantation (LTx) in 2 Scandinavian transplant centers.


ECMO was used as a bridge to LTx in 16 patients between 2005 and 2009 at Sahlgrenska and Helsinki University Hospitals. Most patients were late referrals for LTx, and all failed to stabilize on mechanical ventilation. Thirteen patients (7 men) who were a mean age of 41 ± 8 years (range, 25-51 years) underwent LTx after a mean ECMO support of 17 days (range, 1-59 days). Mean follow-up at 25 ± 19 months was 100% complete.


Three patients died on ECMO while waiting for a donor, and 1 patient died 82 days after LTx; thus, by intention-to-treat, the success for bridging is 81% and 1-year survival is 75%. All other patients survived, and 1-year survival for transplant recipients was 92% ± 7%. Mean intensive care unit stay after LTx was 28 ± 18 days (range, 3-53 days). All patients were doing well at follow-up; however, 2 patients underwent retransplantation due to bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome at 13 and 21 months after the initial ECMO bridge to LTx procedure. Lung function was evaluated at follow-up, and mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second was 2.0 ± 0.7 l (62% ± 23% of predicted) and forced vital capacity was 3.1 ± 0.6 l (74% ± 21% of predicted).


ECMO used as a bridge to LTx results in excellent short-term survival in selected patients with end-stage pulmonary disease.

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