Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: How Do We Expand Capacity in the COVID-19 Era?

Heart Lung Circ. 2021 May;30(5):623-625

Especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding capacity for ECMO usage is of critical importance. Current World Health Organization recommendations include the use of ECMO in the treatment of COVID-19 associated ARDS when conventional mechanical ventilation is insufficient. While there is no up-to-date, published data regarding the number of patients who have received VV-ECMO during the COVID pandemic, the data shared through the ELSO COVID dashboard suggests that nearly 5,000 adults have received VV-ECMO support as a result of COVID-19 infection world-wide. This increased usage highlights the importance of expanding capacity to meet the needs of the world’s population and demands attention to workforce and procedural volume issues. As cases soar, more people require ECMO support, and triaged resource allocation becomes a reality: strategies to expand capacity are even more necessary.