Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS): a systematic review of pre-clinical models

Jonathan E. Millar*, Nicole Bartnikowski, Viktor von Bahr, Maximilian Malfertheiner, Nchafatso G. Obonyo, Mirko Belliato, Jacky Y. Suen, Alain Combes, Daniel F. McAuley, Roberto Lorusso, John F. Fraser, European Extracorporeal Life Support Organisation (EuroELSO) Innovations Workgroup, National Health Medical Research Council Australia Centre of Research Excellence for Advanced Cardio-respiratory Therapies Improving Organ Support (NHMRC CREACTIONS)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


ObjectivesExtracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an increasingly accepted means of supporting those with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Given the high mortality associated with ARDS, numerous animal models have been developed to support translational research. Where ARDS is combined with ECMO, models are less well characterized. Therefore, we conducted a systematic literature review of animal models combining features of experimental ARDS with ECMO to better understand this situation.

Data sources: MEDLINE and Embase were searched between January 1996 and December 2018.

Study selection: Inclusion criteria: animal models combining features of experimental ARDS with ECMO. Exclusion criteria: clinical studies, abstracts, studies in which the model of ARDS and ECMO has been reported previously, and studies not employing veno-venous, veno-arterial, or central ECMO.

Data extraction: Data were extracted to fully characterize models. Variables related to four key features: (1) study design, (2) animals and their peri-experimental care, (3) models of ARDS and mechanical ventilation, and (4) ECMO and its intra-experimental management.

Data synthesis: Seventeen models of ARDS and ECMO were identified. Twelve were published after 2009. All were performed in large animals, the majority (n=10) in pigs. The median number of animals included in each study was 17 (12-24), with a median study duration of 8h (5-24). Oleic acid infusion was the commonest means of inducing ARDS. Most models employed peripheral veno-venous ECMO (n=12). The reporting of supportive measures and the practice of mechanical ventilation were highly variable. Descriptions of ECMO equipment and its management were more complete.

Conclusion: A limited number of models combine the features of experimental ARDS with ECMO. Among those that do, there is significant heterogeneity in both design and reporting. There is a need to standardize the reporting of pre-clinical studies in this area and to develop best practice in their design.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages17
JournalIntensive Care Medicine Experimental
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2019


  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Animal models
  • Pre-clinical models
  • Systematic review


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