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"Awake" ECCO2R superseded intubation in a near-fatal asthma attack

Thomas-Michael Schneider, Tibor Bence, Franz Brettner
Journal of Intensive Care 2017, 5: 53

BACKGROUND: Near-fatal asthma attacks are life threatening events that often require mechanical ventilation. Extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R) is, beside extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a well-established rescue option whenever ventilation gets to its limits. But there seems to be very rare experience with those techniques in avoiding mechanical ventilation in severe asthma attacks.

CASE PRESENTATION: A 67-year-old man with a near-fatal asthma attack deteriorated under non-invasive ventilation conditions. Beside pharmacological treatment, the intensivists decided to use an extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal system (ECCO2R) to avoid sedation and intubation. Within only a few hours, there was a breakthrough and the patient's status improved continuously. One and a half days later, weaning from ECCO2R was already completed.

CONCLUSIONS: The discussion deals with several advantages of extracorporeal lung support in acute asthma, the potential of avoiding intubation and sedation, as well as the benefits of a conscious and spontaneously breathing patient. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in general and ECCO2R in particular is a highly effective method for the treatment of an acute near-fatal asthma attack. Pathophysiological aspects favor the "awake" approach, without sedation, intubation, and mechanical ventilation. Therefore, experienced clinicians might consider "awake" ECCO2R in similar cases.


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