Long-term follow-up and quality of life in patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for pulmonary embolism and cardiogenic shock.

Stadlbauer A; Philipp A; Blecha S; Lubnow M; Lunz D; Li J; Terrazas A; Schmid C; Lange TJ;Camboni D

Annals of intensive care [Ann Intensive Care] 2021 Dec 24; Vol. 11 (1), pp. 181.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2021 Dec 24.

Background: Since 2019, European guidelines recommend considering extracorporeal life support as salvage strategy for the treatment of acute high-risk pulmonary embolism (PE) with circulatory collapse or cardiac arrest. However, data on long-term survival, quality of life (QoL) and cardiopulmonary function after extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) are lacking.
Methods: One hundred and nineteen patients with acute PE and severe cardiogenic shock or in need of mechanical resuscitation (CPR) received venoarterial or venovenous ECMO from 2007 to 2020. Long-term data were obtained from survivors by phone contact and personal interviews. Follow-up included a QoL analysis using the EQ-5D-5L questionnaire, echocardiography, pulmonary function testing and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
Results: The majority of patients (n = 80, 67%) were placed on ECMO during or after CPR with returned spontaneous circulation. Overall survival to hospital discharge was 45.4% (54/119). Nine patients died during follow-up. At a median follow-up of 54.5 months (25-73; 56 ± 38 months), 34 patients answered the QoL questionnaire. QoL differed largely and was slightly reduced compared to a German reference population (EQ5D5L index 0.7 ± 0.3 vs. 0.9 ± 0.04; p  < 0.01). 25 patients (73.5%) had no mobility limitations, 22 patients (65%) could handle their activities, while anxiety and depression were expressed by 10 patients (29.4%). Return-to-work status was 33.3% (average working hours: 36.2 ± 12.5 h/per week), 15 (45.4%) had retired from work early. 12 patients (35.3%) expressed limited exercise tolerance and dyspnea. 59% (20/34) received echocardiography and pulmonary function testing, 50% (17/34) cardiopulmonary exercise testing. No relevant impairment of right ventricular function and an only slightly reduced mean peak oxygen uptake (76.3% predicted) were noted.
Conclusions: Survivors from severe intractable PE in cardiogenic shock or even under CPR with ECMO seem to recover well with acceptable QoL and only minor cardiopulmonary limitations in the long term. To underline these results, further research with larger study cohorts must be obtained.