Purpose: Extracorporeal membrane oxygen (ECMO) is increasingly used as an advanced form of life support for cardiac and respiratory failure. Unfortunately, in infrequent instances, circulatory and/or respiratory recovery is overshadowed by neurologic injury that can occur in patients who require ECMO. As such, knowledge of ECMO and its implications on diagnosis and treatment of neurologic injuries is indispensable for intensivists and neurospecialists.
Recent findings: The most common neurologic injuries include intracerebral hemorrhage, ischemic stroke, seizure, cerebral edema, intracranial hypertension, global cerebral hypoxia/anoxia, and brain death. These result from events prior to initiation of ECMO, failure of ECMO to provide adequate oxygen delivery, and/or complications that occur during ECMO. ECMO survivors also experience neurological and psychological sequelae similar to other survivors of critical illness.
Summary: Since many of the risk factors for neurologic injury cannot be easily mitigated, early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to limit morbidity and mortality from neurologic injury during ECMO.
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