Objective: To review three patients who underwent extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for acute respiratory failure secondary to pancreatitis. Summary Background Data: Severe acute pancreatitis often causes the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and if ventilation is required, the mortality rate is more than 50%. If the ratio of PaO2/FiO2 falls below 100 mm Hg or the Murray lung injury score exceeds 3.5, the mortality rate rises to more than 80%. Three patients who have severe ARDS secondary to pancreatitis, who were hypoxic despite ventilation with 100% oxygen and high airway pressures, and who were all successfully treated with ECMO are reported here. The consensus here is that all three patients would have died without ECMO. Methods: Retrospective chart review and discussion of the literature. Results: Pre-ECMO data: mean PaO2/FiO2 59.3 mm Hg, mean Murray lung injury score 3.7, one patient administered 20 ppm inhaled nitric oxide. ECMO data: mean extracorporeal flow at initiation of ECMO 56.3 mL/kg per minute, all patients administered veno-venous ECMO, mean duration of ECMO 104.7 hours. All patients were successfully weaned from ECMO and extubated. One patient had a protracted hospital stay because of a colo-cutaneous fistula. All patients are long-term survivors. Conclusions: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation proved an effective therapy for severe ARDS complicating acute pancreatitis. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was conducted without bleeding complications in these three patients.
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