Daubin C, Lehoux P, Ivascau C, Tasle M, Bousta M, Lepage O, Quentin C, Massetti M, Charbonneau P.; Crit Care. 2009 Aug 25;13(4):R138. [Epub ahead of print]
INTRODUCTION: Cardiovascular failure is the leading cause of death in severe acute drug intoxication. In this setting, we report the feasibility, complications, and outcome of emergency extracorporeal life support (ECLS) in refractory shock or cardiac arrest following a drug overdose.

METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study of 17 patients admitted over a 10-year period for prolonged cardiac arrest or refractory shock following a drug overdose and not responding to optimal conventional treatment. Patients were evaluated in the medical ICU and cardiovascular surgery department of a university hospital. ECLS implantation used a centrifugal pump connected to a hollow-fiber membrane oxygenator and was performed in the operating room (n=13), intensive care unit (n=3), or emergency department (n=1). ECLS was employed for refractory shock and prolonged cardiac arrest in 10 and 7 cases, respectively.

RESULTS: The mean duration of external cardiac massage was 101+/-55 minutes. Fifteen patients had ingested cardiotoxic drugs, including 11 cases of drugs with membrane stabilizing activity. Time from hospital admission to initiation of ECLS was 6.4+/-7.0 hours. Time to ECLS implant was 58+/-11 minutes. The mean ECLS flow rate was 3.45+/-0.45 L/min. The average ECLS duration was 4.5+/-2.4 days. Early complications included limb ischemia (n=6), femoral thrombus (n=1), cava inferior thrombus (n=1), and severe bleeding at the site of cannulation (n=2). Fifteen patients were weaned off ECLS support and 13 (76%) were discharged to hospital without sequelae.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on our experience, we consider ECLS as a last resort, efficient, and relatively safe therapeutic option in this population. However, the uncontrolled nature of our data requires careful interpretation.


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