Tracheostomy management in patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: an International Multicenter Retrospective Study

Schmidt, Matthieu; Fisser, Christoph; Martucci, Gennaro; Abrams, Darryl; Frapard, Thomas; Popugaev, Konstantin; Arcadipane, Antonio; Bromberger, Bianca; Lino, Giovanni; Serra, Alexis; Rozencwajg, Sacha; Lubnow, Matthias; Petrikov, Sergey; Mueller, Thomas; Combes, Alain; Pham, Tài; Brodie, Daniel

Current practices regarding tracheostomy in patients treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for acute respiratory distress syndrome are unknown. Our objectives were to assess the prevalence and the association between the timing of tracheostomy (during or after ECMO weaning) and related complications, sedative, and analgesic use.

International, multicenter, retrospective study in four large volume ECMO centers during a 9-year period.

Of the 1,168 patients treated with ECMO for severe ARDS (age 48 ± 16 years, 76% male, SAPS II score 51 ± 18) during the enrollment period, 353 (30%) and 177 (15%) underwent tracheostomy placement during or after ECMO, respectively. Severe complications were uncommon in both groups. Local bleeding within 24 h of tracheostomy was four times more frequent during ECMO (25 vs 7% after ECMO, p < 0.01). Cumulative sedative consumption decreased more rapidly after the procedure with sedative doses almost negligible 48–72 h later, when tracheostomy was performed after ECMO decannulation (p < 0.01). A significantly increased level of consciousness was observed within 72 h after tracheostomy in the “after ECMO” group, whereas it was unchanged in the “during-ECMO” group.

In contrast to patients undergoing tracheostomy after ECMO decannulation, tracheostomy during ECMO was neither associated with a decrease in sedation and analgesia levels nor with an increase in the level of consciousness. This finding together with a higher risk of local bleeding in the days following the procedure reinforces the need for a case-by-case discussion on the balance between risks and benefits of tracheotomy when performed during ECMO.


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August 10, 2022


ECMO, Acute respiratory distress syndrome, Mechanical ventilation, Tracheostomy, Bleeding, Outcome