It saved lives in past epidemics of lung-damaging viruses. Now, the life-support option known as ECMO appears to be doing the same for many of the critically ill COVID-19 patients who receive it, according to a new international study.
The 1,035 patients in the study faced a staggeringly high risk of death, as ventilators and other care failed to support their lungs. But after they were placed on ECMO, their actual death rate was less than 40%. That’s similar to the rate for patients treated with ECMO in past outbreaks of lung-damaging viruses, and other severe forms of viral pneumonia.
The new study published in The Lancet provides strong support for the use of ECMO — short for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — in appropriate patients as the pandemic rages on worldwide.
It may help more hospitals that have ECMO capability understand which of their COVID-19 patients might benefit from the