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Transpl Int. 1996;9(3):227-30.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for lung transplant recipients with primary severe donor lung dysfunction.

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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA 15213-2582, USA.


Primary severe donor lung dysfunction (DLD) is a significant complication after lung transplantation (LTx), and a high mortality is reported with conventional therapy. The purpose of this report is to review the experience of the University of Pittsburgh with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for primary severe DLD after LTx. From September 1991 to May 1995, 220 LTx were performed at our center. Eight patients (8/220 = 3.6%) with severe DLD after LTx required ECMO support. The age of LTx recipients was 44 +/- 5 years (mean +/- SD); seven patients were female and one was male. Indications for LTx were: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in four patients, bronchiectasis in two, and pulmonary hypertension in two. There were three single LTx and five bilateral LTx. The interval from LTx to institution of ECMO was 5.6 +/- 3.2 h (range 0-10 h). Three patients were supported with veno-venous (v-v) ECMO and five had veno-arterial (v-a) ECMO. The duration of ECMO support was 7.3 +/- 4.8 days (range 3-15 days). activated glotting time (ACT) was maintained between 110 and 180 s with intermittent use of heparin. Seven patients (7/8 = 87%) were successfully weaned from ECMO and six patients (6/8 = 75%) were discharged home; they are currently alive after a follow-up of 17 +/- 10.1 months. One patient died on ECMO support for refractory DLD and another died 2 months after ECMO wean from multisystem organ failure. At 6 months follow-up, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) is 2.35 +/- 0.91 (75% +/- 17.4% predicted) and mean forced vital capacity (FVC) is 2.53 +/- 0.81 (64% +/- 14% predicted). We conclude that ECMO can be lifesaving when instituted early after primary severe DLD. The v-v ECMO support is preferred when the patient is hemodynamically stable and adequate long-term function of the allograft is anticipated.

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