Adult, Cardiac assist, Challenges, Circulatory support, ECMO, Extracorporeal life support, H1N1, Reflection of ELSO registry, Stakeholders



  1. Kurniawati, Eva R. MSc
  2. Weerwind, Patrick W. PhD


Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is an external medical device to treat critically ill patients with cardiovascular and respiratory failure. In a nutshell, ECLS is only a "bridging" mechanism that provides life support while the heart and/or the lungs is recovering either by therapeutic medical interventions, transplantation, or spontaneously. Extracorporeal life support has been developed since 1950s, and many studies were conducted to improve ECLS techniques, but unfortunately, the survival rate was not improved. Because of Dr Bartlett's success in using ECLS to treat neonates with severe respiratory distress in 1975, ECLS is made as a standard lifesaving therapy for neonates with severe respiratory distress. However, its use for adult patients remains debatable. The objectives of this study are to outline and provide a general overview of the use of ECLS especially for adult patients for the past 10 years and to elaborate on the challenges encountered by each stakeholder involved in ECLS. The data used for this study were extracted from the ELSO Registry Report of January 2018. Results of this study revealed that the number of ECLS centers and the use of ECLS are increasing over the year for the past decade. There was also a shift of the patient's age category from neonatal to adult patients. However, the survival rates for adult patients are relatively low especially for cardiac and extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation cases. To date, the complications are still the major challenge of ECLS. Other challenges encountered by the stakeholders in ECLS are the limited amount of well-trained and experienced ECLS teams and centers, the limited government expenditure on health, and the lack of improvement and development of ECLS techniques and devices. Further studies are needed to evaluate the value of ECLS for adult patients.