Background: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been reported to improve outcomes in patients with refractory respiratory failure. These successful experiences have stimulated interest in using ECMO as a potential therapy for patients with acute pulmonary failure resulting from burn and inhalation lung injury. Current literature has supported the use of ECMO in critically-ill, pediatric burn patients. On the other hand, it is controversial to apply ECMO in adult burn patients, and the evidence is limited by the shortcomings of small sample size. We share our successful experience of ECMO treatment in the casualties of the Formosa Water Park Dust Explosion Disaster. Methods: We investigated the data from the dust explosion event, which happened on June 27, 2015, in New Taipei, Taiwan. The medical records of five patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome receiving ECMO were evaluated. Results: The mean study subject age was 21.8 years, with a mean total body surface area burned of 82.9%. The average time to ECMO setup was 48.6 days. Survivors and non-survivors averaged four days and 77.7 days, respectively. The overall mortality rate was 40%. Three survivors were discharged without any ECMO-related complications or pulmonary sequelae after one year of follow up. Conclusions: ECMO may be a lifesaving modality for burn patients with severe lung injury who are nonresponsive to maximal medical management, especially for young patients with early ECMO intervention.
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