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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) in Critically Ill Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pneumonia and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

Xiaochun Ma, Menglin Liang, Min Ding, Weiming Liu, Huibo Ma, Xiaoming Zhou, Hongsheng Ren

Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Shandong Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong First Medical University, Jinan, Shandong, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e925364

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.925364

Available online: 2020-06-10

Published: 2020-08-06

ABSTRACT: Traced back to December 2019, an unexpected outbreak of a highly contagious new coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) has rapidly swept around China and the globe. There have now been an estimated 2 580 000 infections and more than 170 000 fatal cases around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that approximately 14% of infections developed into severe disease, 5% were critically ill, and the mortality rate of critically ill patients is reported to be over 50%. The shortage of specific anti-viral treatment and vaccines remains a huge challenge. In COVID-19, refractory hypoxemia is common among the critically ill with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) despite invasive mechanical ventilation, and is further complicated by respiratory and circulatory failure. This difficult situation calls for the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for assisting respiration and circulation if necessary. This article reviews the pertinent clinical literature, technical guidance, and expert recommendations on use of ECMO in critically ill cases of COVID-19. Here, we present basic knowledge and opinions about COVID-19 and ECMO, review the evidence on ECMO use in Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and H1N1 influenza, share the technical guidance and recommendations on use of ECMO in COVID-19, summarize the current use of ECMO against COVID-19 in China, and discuss the issues in use of ECMO in COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19, Critical Illness, Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult