Is there a benefit of ECMO in traumatically injured patients?

If you have ever encountered a patient on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), you may have a few questions.  Does this help patients?  How long do patients need to stay on?  How much does this cost?  Is this really in the patient’s best interests?  Can you put trauma patients on ECMO?

To be honest, if you are like me, that last question never entered my mind.  Drs. Lam, Herman, and Murray have dared to explore that question.  Dr.  Lam is an Anesthesiology resident at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.  Dr. Herman completed her anesthesiology residency and fellowship in neuroanesthesiology at the University of Florida.  She, however, completed her MD and her PhD in physiology at the University of Wisconsin.  Her research mainly focuses on neuroanesthesia and pain.  Dr. Murray is a retired Colonel of the US Army Reserves, Professor Emeritus at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, and current president of the Trauma Anesthesiology Society.  Not only has he been interested in trauma, but has played an active role in critical care medicine, as well as, research involving nutrition and ARDS.  Their editorial highlights the need for more investigation into the value of ECMO for traumatically injured.

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