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Introduction: Cardiogenic shock that results from pulmonary embolus has a high mortality rate. Systemic thrombolysis is frequently used in submassive and massive pulmonary embolus and has been shown to restore circulation. However, in the event of impending or ongoing cardiac arrest, systemic thrombolysis or anticoagulation alone has not been always shown to be effective. Case reports have previously established that extracorporeal membrane oxygenation can effectively be used as an effective rescue strategy in cases of cardiac arrest as a result from massive pulmonary embolus. We report six cases of massive pulmonary embolism (PE), in which veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA ECMO) was utilized or used as a backup strategy with excellent outcomes. We highly recommend using this strategy at the bedside in a tertiary care facility where VA ECMO support is available.

Methods: This is a retrospective study of all patients that underwent VA ECMO or utilized VA ECMO at the bedside as a rescue strategy in the setting of massive PE. We abstracted relevant clinical information from patient charts for this review.

Results and analysis: Out of the 107 VA ECMO runs performed at our facility between 1 September 2013 and 31 December 2014, four patients utilized this strategy in the setting of massive PE with impending cardiac arrest; in two cases it was available to use as a backup strategy. All six patients (Table 1) had successful recovery with complete restoration of cognitive status, functional status, and without any clinical signs of right ventricular (RV) dysfunction on discharge.



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