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  1. Leffall, Britney MSN, RN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN
  2. Myers, Lauren BSN, RN, CCRN
  3. Holcomb, John B. MD, FACS
  4. Drake, Stacy A. PhD, MPH, RN


Trauma patients that survive the immediate threat of death are at risk for potentially life-threatening complications such as acute respiratory distress syndrome and multisystem organ failure. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) use in trauma patients has largely been controversial for concerns of inducing major hemorrhage with the use of systemic anticoagulation to prevent thrombus development while connected to the ECMO circuit. There is limited data available for specific guidelines for optimal management of the trauma population; however, recent studies suggest comparable outcomes to those of nontrauma patients treated with ECMO. The purpose of this case study was to introduce indications for implementation of ECMO in the trauma patient for pulmonary and hemodynamic compromise, describe the procedure of ECMO insertion, and delineate clinical expectations of the intensive care unit nurse within the multidisciplinary ECMO team. This case study presents a 28-year-old man who sustained a gunshot wound of the chest and was ultimately treated with ECMO for pulmonary compromise due to acute respiratory distress syndrome.