In this retrospective multicenter observational study, we describe the Israeli experience with veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV ECMO) for the treatment of COVID-19-induced severe adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which ECMO cannulation was done while the patients were awake and spontaneously breathing without endotracheal tube, namely "awake ECMO." We enrolled all adult patients with severe ARDS due to COVID-19, treated with VV ECMO between March 1, 2020, and November 30, 2021, in which cannulation was done while the patient was awake and spontaneously breathing. During the study period, 365 COVID-19 ARDS patients were treated with VV ECMO. Of these, 25 (6.8%) were treated as awake ECMO. The patient's mean age was 52 years, and 80% were male. Nine of the 25 patients (36%) remained awake throughout their intensive care unit stay and were not sedated and mechanically ventilated at all. Sixteen (64%) were eventually intubated while being on ECMO. Six months survival was 76%. Median mechanical ventilation-free days on ECMO was 8 (interquartile range 5-12) days. This hypothesis-generating study suggests that treating COVID-19 ARDS patients with VV ECMO without sedation and mechanical ventilation is feasible, yet, additional research will be required in order to determine if this modality offers a survival benefit and to identify who are the patients most likely to benefit from it.
- Awake ECMO