International Perfusion Association


Long-Term Outcome in Patients Treated with Veno-Venous Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: A Prospective Observational Study

Introduction: Over the last few decades, the use of veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV-ECMO) support for severe respiratory failure has increased.

Aim: This study aimed to assess the long-term outcomes of patients treated with VV-ECMO for respiratory failure.

Methods: We performed a single-centre prospective evaluation of patients on VV-ECMO who were successfully discharged from the intensive care unit of an Italian University Hospital between January 2018 and May 2021. The enrolled patients underwent follow-up evaluations at 6 and 12 months after ICU discharge. The follow-up team performed psychological and functional assessments using the following instruments: Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Severity Scale (PTSS-10), Euro Quality Five Domains Five Levels (EQ-5L-5D), and 6-minute walk test.

Results: We enrolled 33 patients who were evaluated at a follow-up clinic. The median patient age was 51 years (range: 45-58 years). The median duration of VV-ECMO support was 12 (9-19) days and the length of ICU stay was 23 (18-42) days. A HADS score higher than 14 was reported in 8 (24 %) and 7 (21 %) patients at the six- and twelve-month visit, respectively. PTSS-10 total score ≥ 35 points was present in three (9 %) and two (6 %) patients at the six- and twelve-month examination. The median EQ-5L-5D-VAS was respectively 80 (80-90) and 87.5 (70-95). The PTSS-10 score significantly decreased from six to 12 months in COVID-19 survivors (p = 0.024).

Conclusions: In this cohort of patients treated with VV-ECMO, cognitive and psychological outcomes were good and comparable to those of patients with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) managed without ECMO.

Implications for clinical practice: The findings of this study confirm the need for long-term follow-up and rehabilitation programs for every ICU survivor after discharge. COVID-19 survivors treated with VV-ECMO had outcomes comparable to those reported in non-COVID patients.

Keywords: COVID-19; ECMO; Follow-Up; Long-term outcomes; Quality of life.

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