Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for patients with acute respiratory failure: Uncertain if it is better or worse than conventional lung support

Added March 18, 2020

Citation: Tramm R, Ilic D, Davies AR, et al. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for critically ill adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015; (1): CD010381

What is this? Some patients with COVID-19 will become critically ill and need help with their breathing. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a form of life support that targets the heart and lungs and which might be used for them.

In this Cochrane systematic review, the authors searched for randomized and quasi-randomized trials testing the use of ECMO for acute respiratory failure. They did not restrict by language or location of publication and did their searches in August 2014. They identified 4 randomized trials which compared ECMO versus conventional lung support (389 participants).

What works: Nothing noted.

What doesn’t work: Nothing noted.

What’s uncertain: It is uncertain whether ECMO is, or is not, more effective than conventional lung support in reducing mortality among patients with acute respiratory failure.

 

Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the coronavirus (COVID-19) but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the basis of this summary alone.

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