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Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2011 May 27;19:32. doi: 10.1186/1757-7241-19-32.

Feasibility of inter-hospital transportation using extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support of patients affected by severe swine-flu(H1N1)-related ARDS.

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Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit of Emergency Department, Careggi Teaching Hospital, Florence, Italy.



To describe the organization of an ECMO-centre from triage by telephone to the phase of inter-hospital transportation with ECMO of patients affected by H1N1-induced ARDS, describing techniques and equipment used.


From September 2009 to January 2010, 18 patients with H1N1-induced ARDS were referred to our ECMO-centre from other hospitals. Six patients had contraindications to treatment with ECMO and remained in the local hospital. Twelve patients were transported to our centre and were included in this study. Four patients were transported on ECMO (Group A) and eight on conventional ventilation (Group B). The groups were compared on the basis of adverse events during transport, clinical characteristics and outcome.


The PaO2/FiO2 ratio was lower in the patients of Group A (46.8 vs 89.7 [median]) despite the PEEP values being higher (15.0 vs 8.5 [median]). The Murray score was higher in Group A (3.50 vs 2.75 [median]). During the transfer there were no significant complications noted in Group A, whereas two patients in Group B were reported with hypoxia (SpO2 < 90%). One patient in Group A died. All the other patients of the two groups have been discharged from hospital.


The creation of an ECMO team, with various experts in the treatment of ARDS, assured a safe transfer of patients with severe hypoxia, over long distances, when in other cases they wouldn't have been be transportable.

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