Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 41, Issue 10, pp 1752–1762 | Cite as

Extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review

  • Michael C. Sklar
  • Francois Beloncle
  • Christina M. Katsios
  • Laurent Brochard
  • Jan O. Friedrich
Systematic Review



Extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R) has been proposed for hypercapnic respiratory failure in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations, to avoid intubation or reduce length of invasive ventilation. Balance of risks, efficacy, and benefits of ECCO2R in patients with COPD is unclear.


We systematically searched MEDLINE and EMBASE to identify all publications reporting use of ECCO2R in COPD. We looked at physiological and clinical efficacy. A favorable outcome was defined as prevention of intubation or successful extubation. Major and minor complications were compiled.


We identified 3123 citations. Ten studies (87 patients), primarily case series, met inclusion criteria. ECCO2R prevented intubation in 65/70 (93 %) patients and assisted in the successful extubation of 9/17 (53 %) mechanically ventilated subjects. One case–control study matching to noninvasively ventilated controls reported lower intubation rates and hospital mortality with ECCO2R that trended toward significance. Physiological data comparing pre- to post-ECCO2R changes suggest improvements for pH (0.07–0.15 higher), PaCO2 (25 mmHg lower), and respiratory rate (7 breaths/min lower), but not PaO2/FiO2. Studies reported 11 major (eight bleeds requiring blood transfusion of 2 units, and three line-related complications, including one death related to retroperitoneal bleeding) and 30 minor complications (13 bleeds, five related to anticoagulation, and nine clotting-related device malfunctions resulting in two emergent intubations).


The technique is still experimental and no randomized trial is available. Recognizing selection bias associated with case series, there still appears to be potential for benefit of ECCO2R in patients with COPD exacerbations. However, it is associated with frequent and potentially severe complications. Higher-quality studies are required to better elucidate this risk–benefit balance.


Hypercapnia Acute respiratory failure Noninvasive ventilation 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael C. Sklar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francois Beloncle
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christina M. Katsios
    • 2
    • 4
  • Laurent Brochard
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jan O. Friedrich
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Keenan Research Centre and Li Ka Shing Knowledge InstituteSt. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Département de Réanimation Médicale et Médecine HyperbareUniversité d’Angers, CHU d’AngersAngersFrance
  4. 4.Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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