The objective of this review was to determine if the use of venovenous (VV) or venous-arterial (VA) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in adults is more effective in improving survival than conventional methods of respiratory and cardiac support.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a form of life support for the heart and/or lungs. In patients with severe lung failure, VV ECMO can be used to perform gas exchange. VA ECMO is used in patients with cardiogenic shock or refractory cardiac arrest to provide gas exchange and adequate systemic circulation. Though ECMO has been used successfully in neonates and infants for some time, the effectiveness of ECMO in adults is less established. ECMO is a high-risk therapy with potentially adverse effects such as bleeding, distal limb ischemia, hemolysis, air embolism, and thrombus. Nurses are integral members of the ECMO team whose responsibilities include monitoring for...

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