Journal of Artificial Organs

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 293–299 | Cite as

The use of VV-ECMO in patients with drug dependencies

  • George Stoyle
  • Peter Fawcett
  • Ignacio MalagonEmail author
Original Article Artificial Lung / ECMO


The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of illicit drug and alcohol dependencies on mortality, length of stay, and complications in patients who have been supported with veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV-ECMO) following respiratory failure not responsive to conventional methods of ventilation. 584 VV-ECMO referrals received at Wythenshawe Hospital were reviewed for evidence of drug dependency. 13 patients were identified as being drug-dependent and having undergone treatment with VV-ECMO. A matched cohort of 13 non-drug-dependent patients was identified using date of birth, pre-ECMO Murray Score, and primary diagnosis. The outcomes were compared. 19 more complications were found amongst the drug-dependent patients compared with the non-drug-dependent cohort (39 vs 20). A mean difference of 1.46 complications per patient was calculated (p = 0.005). Mortality after 180 days was reported in 4 of the drug-dependent patients, compared with one in the matched cohort. Length of stay on ECMO was increased on average by 1.93 days amongst the drug-dependent patients (p = 0.557); however, the sample size was not great enough to achieve statistical significance. Patients with drug dependencies undergoing VV-ECMO have more complications when compared with a cohort of patients with no proven or suspected drug dependencies. Differences in morbidity and mortality were not statistically significant.


VV-ECMO Drug dependence Alcoholism Morbidity Mortality 



Veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation


Acute respiratory distress syndrome


Length of stay


World Health Organization


Renal replacement therapy



This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society for Artificial Organs 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University Foundation TrustWythenshaweUK
  2. 2.The University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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