Outcomes of extracorporeal life support for the treatment of acute massive pulmonary embolism: A systematic review

Thomas J. O'Malley, Jae Hwan Choi, Elizabeth J. Maynes, Chelsey T. Wood, Nicholas D. D'Antonio, Martín Mellado, Frances M. West, Taki Galanis, Carin F. Gonsalves, Gregary D. Marhefka, Bharat K. Awsare, Geno J. Merli, Vakhtang Tchantchaleishvili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Massive pulmonary embolism (PE) can cause hemodynamic instability leading to high mortality. Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) has been increasingly used as a bridge to definitive therapy. This systematic review investigates the outcomes of ECLS for the treatment of massive PE. Methods: Electronic search was performed to identify all relevant studies published on ECLS use in patients with PE. 50 case series or reports were selected comprising 128 patients with acute massive PE who required ECLS. Patient-level data were extracted for statistical analysis. Results: Median patient age was 50 [36, 63] years and 41.3% (50/121) were male. 67.2% (86/128) of patients presented with cardiac arrest. Median heart rate was 126 [118, 135] and median systolic pulmonary artery pressure (sPAP) was 55 [48, 69] mmHg. The majority of ECLS included veno-arterial ECLS [97.1% (99/102)]. Median ECLS time was 3 [2, 6] days. 43.0% (55/128) patients received systemic thrombolysis, 22.7% (29/128), received catheter-guided thrombolysis, and 37.5% (48/128) underwent surgical embolectomy. 85.1% (97/114) were weaned off ECLS. Post-ECLS complications included bleeding in 23.4% (30/128), acute renal failure in 8.6% (11/128), dialysis in 6.3% (8/128), heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in 3.1 (4/128), and extremity hypoperfusion in 2.3% (3/128). The most common cause of death was shock at 30.3% (10/33). The median length of hospital stay was 22 [11, 39] days including 8 [5, 13] intensive care unit (ICU) days. The 30-day mortality rate was 22% (20/91). Conclusions: ECLS is safe and effective therapy in unstable patients with acute massive pulmonary embolism and offers acceptable outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-137
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


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