Ng GW, Leung AK, Sin KC, Au SY, Chan SC, Chan OP, Wu HH.; Hong Kong Med J. 2014 Jun 20. doi: 10.12809/hkmj144211. [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVE. To present the 3-year experience of using venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for patients with severe respiratory failure in a single centre in Hong Kong.

DESIGN. Case series.

SETTING. A 19-bed Intensive Care Unit of a tertiary hospital in Hong Kong.

PATIENTS. All patients who were managed with venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2013 in the Intensive Care Unit.

RESULTS. Overall, 31 patients (mean age, 42.2 years, standard deviation, 14.1 years; 21 males) received venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for the treatment of severe respiratory failure. Of these, 90.3% (28 patients) presented with pneumonia as the cause of the respiratory failure, and 22 of them had identifiable causes. A total of nine (29.0%) patients were diagnosed to have H1N1 infection. The median Murray score was 3.5 (interquartile range, 3.0-3.5); the median duration of venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support was 5.0 (2.8-8.6) days; and the median duration of mechanical ventilator support was 18.2 (7.8-27.9) days. The overall intensive care unit mortality was 19.4% (n=6). The overall in-hospital mortality and the 28-day mortality were both 22.6% (n=7). Among the 22 patients who had identifiable infective causes, those suffering from viral infection had lower intensive care unit and hospital mortality than those who had bacterial infection (8.3% vs 20.0%). All the H1N1 patients survived. Complications related to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation included severe bleeding (n=2; 6.5%) and mechanical complications of the circuits (n=3; 9.7%).

CONCLUSIONS. Venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is an effective adjunctive therapy and can be used as a life-saving procedure for carefully selected patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome when the limits of standard therapy have been reached.

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