Venoarterial (VA) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) application in postcardiotomy shock (PCS) and non-PCS is increasing. VA-ECMO plays a critical role in the management of these patients, yet may be associated with serious complications.
A systematic review of all available reports in the literature of patients receiving VA-ECMO, either directly or indirectly, comparing central cannulation (right atrial to ascending aorta) versus peripheral cannulation (femoral vein to femoral artery or axillary artery) were analyzed. The primary endpoint was survival. Cerebrovascular events, limb complications, bleeding requiring reoperation, sepsis, continuous venovenous hemofiltration, and transfusions were also assessed in both groups.
Seventeen retrospective case series clearly describing the VA-ECMO access and including 1,691 patients with PCS and non-PCS were found. The peripheral approach was more commonly used (980 patients, 57.9%) than the central one. There was no difference in the analysis between the two techniques regarding all-cause mortality risk ratio (1.00, 95% confidence interval: 0.94 to 1.08, I2 = 0%, p = 0.92). No statistical differences were found between peripheral and central VA-ECMO with regard to cerebrovascular events, limb complications, or sepsis rates. Peripheral cannulation was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of bleeding (p = 0.02), continuous venovenous hemofiltration (p = 0.03), transfusion of red blood cells units (p < 0.00001), fresh frozen plasma units (p = 0.0002), and platelets units (p < 0.00001).
Peripheral and central VA-ECMO configurations showed comparable inhospital survival for PCS and non-PCS. The risk of bleeding, continuous venovenous hemofiltration, and blood product transfusion was significantly lower with the peripheral cannulation strategy.