The Role of ECMO for ARDS in COVID-19 patients: an overview

Dovydas Melamed1

1Vilnius City Clinical Hospital


Introduction. COVID-19 currently is causing a world-wide pandemic. About a third of patients develop acute respiratory failure, which usually requiring treatment in the intensive care unit. In most cases, acute respiratory failure can be treated by simple mechanical ventilation methods, but for some patients these measures are ineffective. ECMO is the last chance for severely ill patients to survive. There is currently little evidence to suggest that ECMO is a sufficiently effective mean of controlling acute respiratory failure.

Aim. The purpose of this article is to review the usage of ECMO in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method. This article reviews 21 articles from the PubMed database.

Review. This method has several types that can be applied depending on the patient’s condition, the nature of the respiratory failure. VV-ECMO technology is the most commonly used, which delivers better patient survival rates. ECMO technology requires huge resources that can usually be applied in large medical centers, so there are strict guidelines for applying ECMO. Data from various studies suggest that the use of ECMO is low among patients with acute respiratory failure. Unfortunately, mortality rates using ECMO remain high enough. Therefore, this method still remains in reserve and is used only in exceptional cases where other measures no longer help.

Keywords: ECMO, COVID-19, acute respiratory failure.