Physical therapy in successful venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation bridge to orthotopic heart transplantation.J Card Surg 2019JC
Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) is a temporary mechanical circulatory support system that may be used as a lifesaving therapy for patients in acute heart failure and as a bridge to definitive management. Physical therapy in these patients remains challenging, with limited protocols to guide practitioners.
We describe a case of a 37-year-old gentleman who presented with familial cardiomyopathy and cardiogenic shock.
Our patient underwent urgent peripheral venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) followed by successful heart transplantation. While on ECMO support he was enrolled in a physical therapy program that included the VitalGo Tilt Bed to improve lower body weight bearing while avoiding hip flexion and damage to the peripheral ECMO cannulae. The patient was discharged home expeditiously after heart transplant due to aggressive physical rehabilitation while on full VA-ECMO support.
Early intensive physical rehabilitation is feasible and safe and may result in improved outcomes and expeditious discharge in VA ECMO patients. Protocol driven multidisciplinary physical therapy with a patient on femorally cannulated VA-ECMO retains the advantages of lower extremity peripheral cannulation while eliminating the risks of immobility. The new UNOS allocation system may result in a successful bridge to transplantation in patients on VA-ECMO due to the increased prioritization of this population to receive donor organs.