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Medicina crítica (Colegio Mexicano de Medicina Crítica)

versión impresa ISSN 2448-8909


TOMICIC, Vinko et al. Extra-corporeal life support for adults with refractory severe respiratory failure. Med. crít. (Col. Mex. Med. Crít.) [online]. 2017, vol.31, n.4, pp.224-229. ISSN 2448-8909.


Extra-corporeal life support (ECLS) is an established technique for neonates with acute respiratory failure (ARF). Technical difficulties, expense and discouraging outcomes explains its confinement to a last resource tool for adults with ARF. Our objective is report the experience with adult ECLS in two hospitals.

Material and methods:

All consecutive adult patients treated with different ECLS techniques from 2002 to 2012 were analyzed. Demographic and cardiopulmonary variables were collected. Data are expressed as median (range). The differences between patients affected with ARF isolated and patients with hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome was obtained with Mann Whitney U test and a value of p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


Fifteen patients received ECLS. Five were veno-arterial (VA), 7 veno-venous (VV), and 3 pumpless extracorporeal lung assist (P-ELA). Demographic, cardiopulmonary variables, diagnosis, time on ECLS and outcome are described. Mechanical ventilation (MV), ICU and hospital stay were 17 (4-49), 38 (4-93) and 46 (4-102) days respectively. All patients who required VA-ECLS were affected for Hanta cardiopulmonary syndrome. Seven of fifteen patients died. Two out of five VA-ECLS suffered some degree of lower extremity (arterial cannulation) compartmental syndrome and a mild abnormal gait sequel affected them. Vascular accesses and bleeding were not a concern. Two patients died due to septic shock from gram negative bacilli after leaving ECLS.


ECLS for catastrophic ARF in adults is useful therapeutic option to rescue patients who do not respond to conventional MV strategies. The progress in technical devices, use an algorithm to medical decision making contribute to reducing morbidity and mortality.

Palabras llave : Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; acute respiratory distress syndrome; hantavirus pulmonary syndrome; respiratory failure.

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