Staying Current in the World of ExtraCorporeal Support

Part of my job as owner of ECMO Advantage, and part of my passion as an ECMOlogist, is staying current with the ever changing and expanding world of extracorporeal support.  In that attempt, I spend a lot of time scouring the internet for the latest information regarding ECMO, ECLS, training, modalities, research, products, practices, services…you name it.  I have found there is definitely a growing interest and awareness of ECMO…especially Adult ECLS.

One of the most rapid and aggressive swings we have seen in the ECMO community is the growth of Adult extracorporeal life support.  The ELSO database makes that quite clear.  The ELSO data depicts a sharp increase in Adult patients supported with ECMO starting in 2009.  In 2010, for the first time in ELSO recorded history, Adult ECLS patients surpassed Neonatal ECMO patients in number (Adult-887 / Neo-678).  Since that time Adult patients supported on ECMO has almost tripled to 2574 Adult ECMO patients recorded by ELSO in 2014.  Part of that increase is certainly due to more ECMO Centers reporting to ELSO.  But part of that increase is also due to a wider acceptance of ECLS as valuable for all patient populations including Adult ECMO patients.

But one of the more concerning aspects of scouring the web in an attempt at staying current in the world of extracorporeal support is the fact that there are a lot of inaccuracies out there.  I just read a pretty good article yesterday that discussed ECPR (using ECMO in the process of CPR).  90% of the information was informative and pretty accurate.  But the very first paragraph included gross inaccuracies in a significantly overstated benefit of ECPR.  The quote was, “More than 50,000 patients have survived because of ECPR, and this revolutionary treatment offers hope where there was none before,…”  So while it’s true that ECPR may offer hope to those for whom all hope may have seemed to evaporate, there is no documentation or report (that I could find) to substantiate that 50,000 patients have survived because of ECPR.  I would guess that they were improperly evaluating ELSO data that shows there have been over 50,000 patients reported to the ELSO registry as number of patients supported on ECMO since 1989. COMPLETELY different than 50,000 surviving because of ECPR.

And just today I found a web site authored by a physician in fellowship that presented information regarding ECMO.  Although much of what was portrayed on that site was good information, there were key pieces that were not accurate and if simply accepted at face value could lead one to make improper judgements in caring for a patient on ECLS.  There obviously are many more examples of this on the web across all specialties.

My point I guess is that if you are looking for information about ECMO, ECLS, ECMO specialist training, ECMO training programs, etc…make sure you are connecting with the experts in the field in order to get the best, most comprehensive, and accurate information possible.

Randy Bartilson, President of ECMO Advantage – Serving the ExtraCorporeal Community.


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