International Perfusion Association


Relationship between the Pre-ECMO and ECMO Time and Survival of Severe COVID-19 Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is the etiology of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is used to support gas exchange in patients who have failed conventional mechanical ventilation. However, there is no clear consensus on the timing of ECMO use in severe COVID-19 patients.

Objective: The aim of this study is to compare the differences in pre-ECMO time and ECMO duration between COVID-19 survivors and non-survivors and to explore the association between them.

Methods: PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, and other sources were searched until 21 October 2022. Studies reporting the relationship between ECMO-related time and COVID-19 survival were included. All available data were pooled using random-effects methods. Linear regression analysis was used to determine the correlation between pre-ECMO time and ECMO duration. The meta-analysis was registered with PROSPERO under registration number CRD42023403236.

Results: Out of the initial 2473 citations, we analyzed 318 full-text articles, and 54 studies were included, involving 13,691 patients. There were significant differences between survivors and non-survivors in the time from COVID-19 diagnosis (standardized mean difference (SMD) = -0.41, 95% confidence interval (CI): [-0.53, -0.29], p < 0.00001), hospital (SMD = -0.53, 95% CI: [-0.97, -0.09], p = 0.02) and intensive care unit (ICU) admission (SMD = -0.28, 95% CI: [-0.49, -0.08], p = 0.007), intubation or mechanical ventilation to ECMO (SMD = -0.21, 95% CI: [-0.32, -0.09], p = 0.0003) and ECMO duration (SMD = -0.18, 95% CI: [-0.30, -0.06], p = 0.003). There was no statistical association between a longer time from symptom onset to ECMO (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.05, 95% CI: [0.99, 1.12], p = 0.11) or time from intubation or mechanical ventilation (MV) and the risk of mortality (highest vs. lowest time groups odds ratio (OR) = 1.18, 95% CI: [0.78, 1.78], p = 0.42; per one-day increase OR = 1.14, 95% CI: [0.86, 1.52], p = 0.36; HR = 0.99, 95% CI: [0.95, 1.02], p = 0.39). There was no linear relationship between pre-ECMO time and ECMO duration.

Conclusion: There are differences in pre-ECMO time between COVID-19 survivors and non-survivors, and there is insufficient evidence to conclude that longer pre-ECMO time is responsible for reduced survival in COVID-19 patients. ECMO duration differed between survivors and non-survivors, and the timing of pre-ECMO does not have an impact on ECMO duration. Further studies are needed to explore the association between pre-ECMO and ECMO time in the survival of COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: COVID-19; ECMO duration; pre-ECMO time; survival.

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