Background: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy constitutes the last option for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) refractory to conservative treatment. Since primary care centers are unable to provide this therapy, such patients need a transfer to a tertiary care center, which may be life-threatening without extracorporeal support.
Methods: An ECMO transport team implanted an ECMO at the site of the primary care center with subsequent transport of the patient to the tertiary care center. Between September 2009 and March 2011, six patients with ARDS were treated by our ECMO transport team. Mean age was 39.5±12.0 years. All implantations were done percutaneously in a veno-venous configuration.
Results: No complications occurred during the implant procedure and the subsequent transport. Four patients (67%) were successfully weaned from ECMO-therapy, and discharged from hospital.
Conclusion: With a specialized ECMO transport team, ECMO-implantation can be achieved successfully in a peripheral hospital, and patients can be transported safely