ObjectiveVeno-venous (V-V) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is increasingly used to support patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In case of additional cardio-circulatory failure, some experienced centers upgrade the V-V ECMO with an additional arterial return cannula (termed V-VA ECMO). Here we analyzed short- and long-term outcome together with potential predictors of mortality.DesignMulticenter, retrospective analysis between January 2008 and September 2021.SettingThree tertiary care ECMO centers in Germany (Hannover, Bonn) and Switzerland (Zurich).PatientsSeventy-three V-V ECMO patients with ARDS and additional acute cardio-circulatory deterioration required an upgrade to V-VA ECMO were included in this study.Measurements and main resultsFifty-three patients required an upgrade from V-V to V-VA and 20 patients were directly triple cannulated. Median (Interquartile Range) age was 49 (28–57) years and SOFA score was 14 (12–17) at V-VA ECMO upgrade. Vasoactive-inotropic score decreased from 53 (12–123) at V-VA ECMO upgrade to 9 (3–37) after 24 h of V-VA ECMO support. Weaning from V-VA and V-V ECMO was successful in 47 (64%) and 40 (55%) patients, respectively. Duration of ECMO support was 12 (6–22) days and ICU length of stay was 32 (16–46) days. Overall ICU mortality was 48% and hospital mortality 51%. Two additional patients died after hospital discharge while the remaining patients survived up to two years (with six patients being lost to follow-up). The vast majority of patients was free from higher degree persistent organ dysfunction at follow-up. A SOFA score > 14 and higher lactate concentrations at the day of V-VA upgrade were independent predictors of mortality in the multivariate regression analysis.ConclusionIn this analysis, the use of V-VA ECMO in patients with ARDS and concomitant cardiocirculatory failure was associated with a hospital survival of about 50%, and most of these patients survived up to 2 years. A SOFA score > 14 and elevated lactate levels at the day of V-VA upgrade predict unfavorable outcome.