Interhospital transport of ARDS patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.


Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine, Emergency Medicine and Pain Management, Augusta-Kliniken Bochum-Mitte, Bochum, Germany. [Email]


Veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be a lifesaving therapy for patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ECMO is a technically complex and challenging procedure and should therefore only be performed in specialized centers. Transporting ARDS patients to ECMO centers for treatment can be dangerous because of the risk of hypoxemia during transport. This raises the question if ECMO should not be already initiated in the transferring hospital before transport. Over a 5-year period, we studied ARDS patients who had been transported to our department by our mobile ECMO team for further treatment after ECMO had already been initiated at the referring hospital. Data for analysis were obtained from our patient data management system (PDMS), the referral documents, and from the referring hospitals. Seventy-five patients meeting the selection criteria were studied. All had been successfully cannulated in the transferring hospitals. They were transported to our ECMO center by helicopter (n = 34) or mobile intensive care units (n = 41). No patient died during transport. Forty four of the patients were transported at night. Twenty-six patients (35%) died in our intensive care unit due to a therapy refractory course, comorbidities or limitation of therapy. Patients on ECMO therapy can be safely transferred to a specialist center. Setting up ECMO in an unfamiliar location and the subsequent patient transport can be very challenging and should only be performed by a highly trained, experienced team.


ECMO,Helicopter,Mobile intensive care units,Outcome,Transferring hospitals,