Revisiting extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for ARDS in burns: A case series and review of the literature

Craig R. Ainsworth, Jeffrey Dellavolpe, Kevin K. Chung, Leopoldo C. Cancio, Phillip Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Introduction: Recent reports on the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in critically ill burn patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) recommended against the use of ECMO. The authors cited the high mortality rates associated with the use of ECMO in these patients with no appreciable benefit. Accumulating evidence from referral centers suggests improved survival in patients with ARDS receiving ECMO. We report our recent experience treating patients with severe ARDS with ECMO in a burn intensive care unit. Methods: This is a case series of consecutive patients placed on ECMO at our burn center from the initiation of our program in September 2012 to September 2017. We included only adult patients who had been placed on ECMO with burn injury, TEN, or inhalation injury and severe ARDS. Results: Fourteen patients with burn injury, inhalation injury or TEN were placed on ECMO from the initiation of the ECMO program to September 1st 2017. The average total body surface area burned in the 11 patients with burn injury was 27% (range 0.25–76%). The cause of ARDS in these patients included inhalation injury, airway trauma and bacterial pneumonia. Four patients had an inhalation injury and 1 patient had a grade 3 inhalation injury but no burn injury. In the majority of cases, prone positioning and use of neuromuscular blockade was also used in an attempt to improve oxygenation and patient synchrony with mechanical ventilation. The average time on ECMO was 276 h (range 63–539 h). Ten of the 14 patients survived to decanulation from ECMO (71%) and eight of 14 patients (57%) survived to hospital discharge. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the lowest mortality rate reported to date in burn patients with ARDS place on ECMO. ECMO is a viable therapy that can be utilized successfully as a rescue modality when conventional interventions are unsuccessful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1433-1438
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • ARDS
  • ECMO
  • Inhalation injury
  • Respiratory failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Revisiting extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for ARDS in burns: A case series and review of the literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this