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Perfusion. 2014 Jan;29(1):39-43. doi: 10.1177/0267659113497229. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

Extracorporeal life support for acute respiratory distress syndrome due to severe Legionella pneumonia.

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1Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



Legionella is a common cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and is second only to Pneumococcal pneumonia as a cause of severe CAP that requires treatment in an intensive care unit. We report a case series of patients with severe Legionella pneumonia who developed the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), failed to improve with mechanical ventilation alone and required extracorporeal life support (ECLS).


We performed a retrospective study of all patients treated with ECLS at our institution for severe ARDS as a result of Legionella pneumonia from 1994 to 2006.


A total of twelve patients with a diagnosis of Legionella pneumonia were treated with veno-venous (VV) ECLS over this time period. Nine of these twelve (75%) were successfully treated and weaned off ECLS and 8 patients (67%) survived to hospital discharge. Two (13%) died of multisystem organ failure, one patient (8%) died from global hypoxic encephalopathy and one (8%) was weaned from ECLS, but ultimately died of liver failure. Renal failure requiring some form of continuous dialysis occurred in seven patients (58%) and the survival for this sub-set of patients was 43%.


Extracorporeal life support for severe ARDS associated with Legionella pneumonia is an effective treatment option when mechanical ventilation fails, especially when introduced early in the course.


acute respiratory distress syndrome; extracorporeal life support; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; legionellosis; pneumonia; respiratory failure

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