Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation with Right Ventricular Assist Device for COVID-19 ARDS

Michael T. Cain, Nathan J. Smith, Mark Barash, Pippa Simpson, Lucian A. Durham, Hemanckur Makker, Christopher Roberts, Octavio Falcucci, Dong Wang, Rebekah Walker, Gulrayz Ahmed, Sherry Ann Brown, Rahul S. Nanchal, David L. Joyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: Right ventricular failure is an underrecognized consequence of COVID-19 pneumonia. Those with severe disease are treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) but with poor outcomes. Concomitant right ventricular assist device (RVAD) may be beneficial. Methods: A retrospective analysis of intensive care unit patients admitted with COVID-19 ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) was performed. Nonintubated patients, those with acute kidney injury, and age > 75 were excluded. Patients who underwent RVAD/ECMO support were compared with those managed via invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) alone. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes included 30-d mortality, acute kidney injury, length of ICU stay, and duration of mechanical ventilation. Results: A total of 145 patients were admitted to the ICU with COVID-19. Thirty-nine patients met inclusion criteria. Of these, 21 received IMV, and 18 received RVAD/ECMO. In-hospital (52.4 versus 11.1%, P = 0.008) and 30-d mortality (42.9 versus 5.6%, P= 0.011) were significantly lower in patients treated with RVAD/ECMO. Acute kidney injury occurred in 15 (71.4%) patients in the IMV group and zero RVAD/ECMO patients (P< 0.001). ICU (11.5 versus 21 d, P= 0.067) and hospital (14 versus 25.5 d, P = 0.054) length of stay were not significantly different. There were no RVAD/ECMO device complications. The duration of mechanical ventilation was not significantly different (10 versus 5 d, P = 0.44). Conclusions: RVAD support at the time of ECMO initiation resulted in the no secondary end-organ damage and higher in-hospital and 30-d survival versus IMV in specially selected patients with severe COVID-19 ARDS. Management of severe COVID-19 ARDS should prioritize right ventricular support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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