dcyphr | Poor survival with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Pooled analysis of early reports


This study aims to compare ECMO as treatment for COVID-19 induced ARDS versus other methods of treatment.


COVID-19 can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and acute lung failure in severe cases. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a potential for these severe patients. In a study done on MERS patients in 2012, the mortality rate and ICU stay were both smaller for patients treated with ECMO. But with COVID-19, the opposite seems to be true.


4 studies were used in the final analysis, including 562 COVID-19 patients and 234 who developed ARDS. 17 of the 234 ARDS patients were treated with ECMO. The death rate of those treated with ECMO was 94% and those treated with other methods was 71%, but this was not statistically significant.


Those patients being treated for ECMO may have been more severe cases of ARDS than the other patients. Still the death rate of patients who develop ARDS, no matter the treatement, is still high at 71%. Since a lot of the ECMO information we have is from the MERS outbreak, research is urgently needed to determine if ECMO would be a helpful or hurtful therapy to use on severe ARDS and COVID-19 patients.


Medline was searched for studies on ECMO, COVID-19, and fatalities. The articles found in the search and all of the cited articles were analyzed.