Patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) are at high risk when undergoing emergency coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)-surgery. Their outcome remains poor despite increased use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). We investigated the impact of timing for perioperative ECMO-support in these patients.
In this retrospective double-center study, we evaluated 201 patients with AMI undergoing CABG, dividing them into the following groups: No-ECMO (n = 101), preoperative ECMO (pre-ECMO, n = 6), intraoperative ECMO (ECC-ECMO, n = 67), and postoperative ECMO (post-ECMO, n = 27). We evaluated the impact of ECMO timing on postoperative mortality, organ function, and length of stay, comparing these to predicted outcome using different risk-scores.
Post-ECMO patients showed lowest 30-day-survival (40.7%), while earlier ECMO-start was associated with better outcome (50.7% in extracorporeal circulation [ECC]-ECMO and 66.7% in pre-ECMO patients). On admission, only pre-ECMO and ECC-ECMO patients showed higher surgery- and intensive-care-unit (ICU)-related risk-scores. In pre- and ECC-ECMO patients, the first significant increase in lactate-levels (>4 mmol/L) was observed preoperatively, while this occurred 1 hour postoperatively in post-ECMO patients. Bilirubin was increased in all patients, decreasing after 3 and 12 days in pre- and ECC-ECMO patients, respectively, but only after 18 days in post-ECMO patients. Multiple ICU risk-scores did not discriminate survival-probability correctly. Only the ECMO-related survival after veno-arterial-ECMO-score correctly predicted the significantly lower survival in post-ECMO patients.
Our study shows that timely ECMO-support is associated with earlier bilirubin-downtrend and higher survival in patients with AMI after CABG. Lactate-increase greater than 4 mmol/L seems to be a helpful threshold to trigger the timely onset of ECMO-therapy, providing better survival.