Hemorrhage under veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in acute respiratory distress syndrome patients: a retrospective data analysis

Stefan Kreyer, Thomas Muders, Nils Theuerkauf, Juliane Spitzh├╝ttl, Torsten Schellhaas, Jens-Christian Schewe, Ulf Guenther, Hermann Wrigge, Christian Putensen


Background: Despite being still invasive and challenging, technical improvement has resulted in broader and more frequent application of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), to prevent hypoxemia and to reduce invasiveness of mechanical ventilation (MV). Heparin-coated ECMO-circuits are currently standard of care, in addition to heparin based anticoagulation (AC) regimen guided by activated clotting time (ACT) or activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT). Despite these advances, a reliable prediction of hemorrhage is difficult and the risk of hemorrhagic complication remains unfortunately high. We hypothesized, that there are coagulation parameters that are indices for a higher risk of hemorrhage under veno-venous (VV)-ECMO therapy.
Methods: Data from 36 patients with severe respiratory failure treated with VV-ECMO at a University Hospital intensive care unit (ICU) were analyzed retrospectively. Patients were separated into two groups based on severity of hemorrhagic complications and transfusion requirements. The following data were collected: demographics, hemodynamic data, coagulation samples, transfusion requirements, change of ECMO-circuit during treatment and adverse effects, including hemorrhage and thrombosis.
Results: In this study 74 hemorrhagic events were observed, one third of which were severe. Patients suffering from severe hemorrhage had a lower survival rate on VV-ECMO (43% vs. 91%; P=0.002) and in ICU (36% vs. 86%; P=0.002). SAPS II, factor VII and X were different between mild and severe hemorrhage group.
Conclusions: Severe hemorrhage under VV-ECMO is associated with higher mortality. Only factor VII and X differed between groups. Further clinical studies are required to determine the timing of initiation and targets for AC therapies during VV-ECMO.