Determination of brain death under extracorporeal life support

  • Thomas BeinEmail author
  • Thomas Müller
  • Giuseppe Citerio
Understanding the Disease


The worldwide use of extracorporeal lung/life support is increasing in severe lung failure (veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, vvECMO) or in cardiac arrest/severe circulatory failure (veno-arterial ECMO, vaECMO). ECMO presents a new level of technology; but at the same time, ECMO has created a new field in medical ethics [1]. In recent years, the in-hospital mortality of patients treated with ECMO has remained high [2], and in specific indications for ECMO, such as vaECMO for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the prognosis of (good) neurologic recovery is often unclear or poor. Consequently, the number of patients diagnosed with brain death under ECMO treatment will rise. Two retrospective analyses reported 161 brain-dead ECMO-supported patients (National French Registry of 22,270 donors after brain death between 2007 and 2013 [3]), and 100 brain deaths out of 356 ECMO patients with neurologic complications (Extracorporeal Life Support Organization data bank...


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesia and Operative Intensive CareUniversity Hospital RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Internal Medicine IIUniversity Hospital RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  3. 3.School of Medicine and SurgeryMilano Bicocca UniversityMilanItaly

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