Duration of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support and survival in cardiovascular surgery patients

Klaus Distelmaier, Dominik Wiedemann, Christina Binder, Thomas Haberl, Daniel Zimpfer, Gottfried Heinz, Herbert Koinig, Alessia Felli, Barbara Steinlechner, Alexander Niessner, Günther Laufer, Irene M Lang, Georg Goliasch

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

37 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: The overall therapeutic goal of venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in patients with postcardiotomy shock is bridging to myocardial recovery. However, in patients with irreversible myocardial damage prolonged ECMO treatment would cause a delay or even withholding of further permanent potentially life-saving therapeutic options. We therefore assessed the prognostic effect of duration of ECMO support on survival in adult patients after cardiovascular surgery.

METHODS: We enrolled into our single-center registry a total of 354 patients who underwent venoarterial ECMO support after cardiovascular surgery at a university-affiliated tertiary care center.

RESULTS: Through a median follow-up period of 45 months (interquartile range, 20-81 months), 245 patients (69%) died. We observed an increase in mortality with increasing duration of ECMO support. The association between increased duration of ECMO support and mortality persisted in patients who survived ECMO support with a crude hazard ratio of 1.96 (95% confidence interval, 1.40-2.74; P < .001) for 2-year mortality compared with the third tertile and the second tertile of ECMO duration. This effect was even more pronounced after multivariate adjustment using a bootstrap-selected confounder model with an adjusted hazard ratio of 2.30 (95% confidence interval, 1.52-3.48; P < .001) for 2-year long-term mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged venoarterial ECMO support is associated with poor outcome in adult patients after cardiovascular surgery. Our data suggest reevaluation of therapeutic strategies after 7 days of ECMO support because mortality disproportionally increases afterward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2471-2476
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Surgical Procedures/mortality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation/mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Operative Time
  • Treatment Outcome
  • cardiovascular surgery
  • mortality
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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