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This review examines the use and outcomes of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in Victoria.

ECMO gives temporary life-support for critically ill patients with reversible acute respiratory and cardiac failure, and patients requiring a ‘bridge’ to transplantation. It is a high-risk procedure that requires highly skilled and experienced clinicians. It is not a common procedure but can be lifesaving.

The review found:

  • ECMO use is increasing in Victoria, but service volume is generally low. In 2016-17, 16 hospitals reported at least one procedure. Only six managed more than 10 patients.
  • Survival rates are higher, and complications are lower at high-volume sites. Studies and international delivery models suggest that survival rates are better when patients are treated at accredited hospitals with higher volumes. 
  • Optimal service delivery uses formalised referral networks or pathways.  Many countries have opted to manage patients needing ECMO through regional networks using clear referral and management processes.

SCV, via the Critical Care Clinical Network, is supporting the Department of Health and Human Services to refine and implement a new delivery model for ECMO. Read more

Page last updated: 29 May 2019

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