Severe respiratory failure may develop in the trauma patient as a consequence of direct lung injury, in response to trauma‐associated systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), as a result of infection, or at times as an unintended consequence of the life‐saving management of the acute traumatic injury. Approximately 0.5% of all adult trauma patients develop some form of pulmonary dysfunction along the acute lung injury (ALI) – acute respiratory distress (ARDS) spectrum, with the incidence of severe respiratory failure reaching 10–20% in multisystem trauma victims. Of concern, mortality in patients with acute respiratory failure who go on to develop severe pulmonary dysfunction can be as high as 37–50% with the use of conventional therapeutic modalities. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been proposed as a rescue strategy when less invasive primary or adjunctive attempts fail. Numerous case reports and single‐center studies demonstrate potential benefits of early implementation of veno‐venous (VV)‐ECMO for the treatment of severe respiratory failure associated with trauma or sequelae of trauma. In this clinical context, VV‐ECMO can be employed to correct for both ventilatory and oxygenation failure while allowing the treating physician to provide much needed rest to the patient's lungs and permit healing to take place. The use of ECMO (mainly veno‐venous, with limited use of veno‐arterial circuits for cardiac indications) has been described in patients with severe chest injuries, traumatic pneumonectomy, bronchopleural fistulas, and various forms of respiratory failure refractory to conventional therapies.
Part of the book: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation