Central, Peripheral ECMO or CPB? Comparsion between Circulatory Support Methods Used during Lung Transplantation

J Cardiothorac Surg. 2021 Nov 27;16(1):341


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis and usual interstitial pneumonia are three most common indications for lung transplantation (LuTx) in Poland. As a result of irreversible destruction of pulmonary parenchyma and extended respiratory insufficiency that appear afterwards, it is crucial to estimate the reserve of gas exchange in each lung before and during surgery. Altering conditions of gas exchange require adaptation in circulatory system as well. In some of the cases the use of extracorporeal life support appears to be necessary to undergo the transplantation successfully. Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) used during operation allow to replace the function of heart and lung, but they are also related to complications in the form of acute kidney failure, bleeding, heart arrhythmias or thromboembolic complications.


We reviewed 77 LuTx from 2009 to 2020 performed at the Department of Thoracic Surgery and Transplantation. 40/77 (51%) patients required intraoperative extracorporeal assistance: 8 required CBP and 32 required ECMO. In the ECMO group 14/32 (44%) patients had peripheral cannulation and 18/32 (56%) had central one. We have calculated the survival rates and reviewed postoperative complications after lung transplantations. Cumulative Kaplan–Meier survival curves were calculated. Differences between the groups were evaluated by the Chi- square analysis for discontinuous variables and t-test for continuous variables.


The use of intraoperative central extracorporeal membrane oxygenator was associated with increased survival rates comparing to patients without external support (30-days, 1-year, 3-years, 5-years rates: 78%, 66%, 66%, 66% vs 83%, 65%, 59%, 44% respectively). Furthermore, survival was enhanced comparing to peripheral ECMO or cardiopulmonary bypass as well (50%, 41%, 41%, 33%; 75%, 50%, 50%, 38% respectively). Acute kidney injury and thromboembolic complications occurred statistically more often in case of patients that underwent lung transplantation with support devices (p = 0.005, p = 0.02 respectively). Frequency of other complications was comparable among groups.


The use of central extracorporeal membrane oxygenation should be favorized over peripheral cannulation or cardiopulmonary bypass. CPB should be no longer used during LuTx.