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ECLS supported transport of ICU patients: does out-of-house implantation impact survival?

Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, 1/ 2021

Felix Fleissner, Alexandru Mogaldea, Andreas Martens, Ruslan Natanov, Stefan Rümke, Jawad Salman, Tim Kaufeld, Fabio Ius, Erik Beckmann, Axel Haverich and Christian Kühn



Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is an established tool to stabilize severely ill patients with therapy-refractory hemodynamic or respiratory failure. Recently, we established a mobile ECLS retrieval service at our institution. However, data on the outcome of patients receiving ECLS at outside hospitals for transportation into tertiary hospitals is still sparse.


We have analyzed all patients receiving ECLS in outside hospitals (Transport group, TG) prior to transportation to our institution and compared the outcome to our in-house ECLS experience (Home Group, HG).


Between 2012 and 2018, we performed 978 ECLS implantations, 243 of which were performed on-site in tertiary hospitals for ECLS supported transportation. Significantly more veno-venous systems were implanted in TG(n= 129 (53%) vs.n= 327 (45%), p= 0.012). Indication for ECLS support differed between the groups, with more pneumonia; acute respiratory distress syndromes in the TG group and of course, more post cardiotomy patients inHG. Mean age was 47 (± 20) (HG) vs. 48 (± 18) (TG) years,p= 0.477 with no change over time. No differences were seen in ECLS support time (8.03 days ±8.19 days HG vs 7.81 days ±6.71 days TG, p= 0.675). 30-day mortality (n= 379(52%) (HG) vs.n= 119 (49%) (TG)p= 0.265) and death on ECLS support (n= 322 (44%) (HG) vs.n= 97 (40%) TG,p= 0.162) were comparable between the two groups, despite a more severe SAVE score in the v-a TG (HG:−1.56(± 4.73) vs. TG -3.93 (± 4.22)p< 0.001). Mortality rates did not change significantly over the years. Multivariate risk analysis revealed Influenza, Peak Insp. Pressure at implantation, pO2/FiO2 ratio and ECLS Score (SAVE/RESP) as well as ECLS support time to be independent risk factors for mortality.


Mobile ECLS support is a tremendous challenge. However, it is justified to offer 24 h/7d ECLS standby for secondary and primary hospitals as a tertiary hospital. Increasing indications and total numbers for ECLS support raise the need for further studies to evaluate outcome in these patients.


ECLS, Transport, ARDS, Cardiogenic shock



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