Impact of cannula design on packed red blood cell transfusions: technical advancement to improve outcomes in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Gennaro Martucci, Giovanna Panarello, Giovanna Occhipinti, Giuseppe Raffa, Fabio Tuzzolino, Guido Capitanio, Tiziana Carollo, Giovanni Lino, Alessandro Bertani, Patrizio Vitulo, Michele Pilato, Roberto Lorusso, Antonio Arcadipane


Background: Technological improvement has contributed to making veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV-ECMO) safer and easier, spreading its use in acute respiratory failure (ARF).
Methods: This is a retrospective observational study carried out in the ECMO center at IRCCS-ISMETT, a medical center focused on end-stage organ failure treatment in Italy. We investigated the effect of different cannula designs on the amount of blood product transfused. Eighty-nine consecutive patients affected with ARF on VV-ECMO from 2008 to 2016 were compared according to type of cannulation: older percutaneous cannula (Standard group, 52 patients) and HLS© BIOLINE-coated, but with shorter drainage cannula (BIOLINE group, 37 patients).
Results: The two study groups were comparable in terms of baseline characteristics [age, body mass index (BMI), Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS-II), Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA), Predicting Death For Severe ARDS on VV-ECMO (PRESERVE) score] and ECMO management [median hematocrit (Htc), platelet nadir, antithrombin III (AT III), heparin, activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT)]. In the BIOLINE group, a lower amount of packed red blood cells (pRBC) was transfused considering both total number [4 units, interquartile range (IQR) 1–9 vs. 12 units, IQR 5.5–21; P<0.01] and mL of pRBC/day of ECMO support (91, IQR 21–158 vs. 193.5, IQR 140.5–254; P<0.01). In the BIOLINE group, a trend in reduction of ECMO days (P=0.05) and length of intensive care unit (ICU) stay was found (P=0.06), but no differences in rates of ECMO weaning and ICU discharge were evidenced. The BIOLINE group constituted a saving of €1,295.20 per patient/treatment, counting the costs for cannulation and pRBC administration.
Conclusions: More biocompatible and shorter drainage cannula may represent one of the contributing factors to a reduction in transfusions and costs of VV-ECMO in the current ongoing technological improvement in ECMO.