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Online ISSN 1827-1596
MacLaren G. 1, Brain M. J. 2, Butt W. W. 3
1 Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit, National University Health System, Singapore;
2 Department of Medicine, Launceston General Hospital, Tasmania, Australia;
3 Department of Intensive Care, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be used to preserve or enhance systemic oxygen delivery in patients with refractory cardiac or respiratory failure. Although widely accepted as a standard of care for many indications in children and for adult cardiogenic shock, ECMO for adult respiratory failure is more controversial. This controversy arose over thirty years ago after the disappointing results of the first flawed, randomized study and is fueled by a group of non-ECMO clinicians who repeatedly criticize the methodology of more recent studies which show probable benefit. In spite of this, there is probably now more evidence to support the use of ECMO in refractory acute respiratory distress syndrome than for any other form of rescue therapy. The purpose of this review is to update clinicians regarding trends in ECMO research over the last 12 months and speculate on how the clinical use of ECMO and associated technology will evolve.