Peripheral cannulation for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation yields superior neurologic outcomes in adult patients who experienced cardiac arrest following cardiac surgery

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Perfusion (United Kingdom)




cardiogenic shock; extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; neurologic outcomes; post-cardiac surgery


Background: Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) for refractory cardiac arrest has improved mortality in post-cardiac surgery patients; however, loss of neurologic function remains one of the main and devastating complications. We reviewed our experience with ECPR and investigated the effect of cannulation strategy on neurologic outcome in adult patients who experienced cardiac arrest following cardiac surgery that was managed with ECPR. Methods: Patients were categorized by central versus percutaneous peripheral VA-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) cannulation strategy. We reviewed patient records and evaluated in-hospital mortality, cause of death, and neurologic status 72 hours after cannulation. Results: From January 2010 to September 2019, 44 patients underwent post-cardiac surgery ECPR for cardiac arrest. Twenty-six patients received central cannulation; 18 patients received peripheral cannulation. Mean post-operative day of the cardiac arrest was 3 and 9 days (p = 0.006), and mean time between initiation of CPR and ECMO was 40 ± 24 and 28 ± 22 minutes for central and peripheral cannulation, respectively. After 72 hours of VA-ECMO support, 30% of centrally cannulated patients versus 72% of peripherally cannulated patients attained cerebral performance status 1–2 (p = 0.01). Anoxic brain injury was the cause of death in 26.9% of centrally cannulated and 11.1% of peripherally cannulated patients. Survival to discharge was 31% and 39% for central and peripheral cannulation, respectively. Conclusions: Peripheral VA-ECMO allows for continuous CPR and systemic perfusion while obtaining vascular access. Compared to central cannulation, a peripheral cannulation strategy is associated with improved neurologic outcomes and decreased likelihood of anoxic brain death.