ECMO in trauma care: What you need to know

Meaghan Flatley, Valerie G. Sams, Mauer Biscotti, Shyam J. Deshpande, Asad A. Usman, Jeremy W. Cannon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Over the past 10 years, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) use in trauma patients has increased significantly. This includes adult and pediatric trauma patients and even combat casualties. Most ECMO applications are in a venovenous (VV ECMO) configuration for acute hypoxemic respiratory failure or anatomic injuries that require pneumonectomy or extreme lung rest in a patient with insufficient respiratory reserve. In this narrative review, we summarize the most common indications for VV ECMO and other forms of ECMO support used in critically injured patients, underscore the importance of early ECMO consultation or regional referral, review the technical aspects of ECMO cannulation and management, and examine the expected outcomes for these patients. In addition, we evaluate the data where it exists to try to debunk some common myths surrounding ECMO management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-194
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes


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