Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in pregnancy and the postpartum period: a systematic review of case reports

J. Ong, J. J. Y. Zhang, R. Lorusso, G. MacLaren, K. Ramanathan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


The use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as salvage therapy for patients with severe cardiopulmonary failure has increased significantly in the past decade. However, the use of ECMO in pregnant and peripartum patients has received scant attention. We performed a systematic review of case reports in the literature, documenting indications and outcomes of ECMO in pregnancy and postpartum patients. Case reports on ECMO use in pregnant and postpartum patients were retrieved from MEDLINE, EMBASE and SCOPUS databases up to December 2018. Ninety publications reporting on 97 patients met our inclusion criteria. The majority of publications reported peripartum or postpartum ECMO use for cardiovascular failure (60.8%), while the remainder had respiratory failure. Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (91.9%) was the most common respiratory indication while pulmonary embolism (23.7%) and peripartum cardiomyopathy (16.9%) accounted for the two most common cardiovascular indications. Hemorrhage was the most common complication of ECMO reported (31.9%). Of 96 documented neonatal outcomes, 80 neonates (83.3%) survived while 88 of 97 (90.7%) mothers survived. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation appears to be a viable life support modality in pregnant and postpartum women with severe cardiopulmonary failure, but publication bias in our study cohort should be considered. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-113
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Pregnancy
  • Extracorporeal
  • Complications
  • ARDS
  • ECMO

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