Optimizing PO2 during peripheral veno-arterial ECMO: a narrative review

H. Winiszewski*, P.G. Guinot, M. Schmidt, G. Besch, G. Piton, A. Perrotti, R. Lorusso, A. Kimmoun, G. Capellier

*Corresponding author for this work

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

5 Citations (Web of Science)


During refractory cardiogenic shock and cardiac arrest, veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) is used to restore a circulatory output. However, it also impacts significantly arterial oxygenation. Recent guidelines of the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) recommend targeting postoxygenator partial pressure of oxygen (PPOSTO2) around 150 mmHg. In this narrative review, we intend to summarize the rationale and evidence for this PPOSTO2 target recommendation. Because this is the most used configuration, we focus on peripheral VA-ECMO. To date, clinicians do not know how to set the sweep gas oxygen fraction (FSO2). Because of the oxygenator's performance, arterial hyperoxemia is common during VA-ECMO support. Interpretation of oxygenation is complex in this setting because of the dual circulation phenomenon, depending on both the native cardiac output and the VA-ECMO blood flow. Such dual circulation results in dual oxygenation, with heterogeneous oxygen partial pressure (PO2) along the aorta, and heterogeneous oxygenation between organs, depending on the mixing zone location. Data regarding oxygenation during VA-ECMO are scarce, but several observational studies have reported an association between hyperoxemia and mortality, especially after refractory cardiac arrest. While hyperoxemia should be avoided, there are also more and more studies in non-ECMO patients suggesting the harm of a too restrictive oxygenation strategy. Finally, setting FSO2 to target strict normoxemia is challenging because continuous monitoring of postoxygenator oxygen saturation is not widely available. The threshold of PPOSTO2 around 150 mmHg is supported by limited evidence but aims at respecting a safe margin, avoiding both hypoxemia and severe hyperoxemia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number226
Number of pages10
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2022


  • Veno-arterial ECMO
  • Oxygen
  • Hyperoxemia
  • Dual circulation
  • Mixing zone

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