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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Early Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation in COVID-19 with Bullous Lung Disease on Mechanical Ventilation: A Case Report


Introduction: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has been well described as a viable option for patients in need of temporary supplemental oxygenation when ventilator capabilities have failed to augment a patient’s condition. Less described is the potential use of ECMO for lung protection in the setting of gigantic bullae despite initially adequate oxygenation.

Case Report: We describe how the early incorporation of ECMO in a patient with coronavirus disease 2019 and necrotizing pneumonia complicated by multiple large and gigantic bullae led to a favorable outcome.

Conclusion: The decision to start ECMO early, despite room for ventilator oxygenation adjustments, may have helped to prevent potential, significant complications such as tension pneumothorax while on positive pressure, thus potentially optimizing the outcome in this patient.

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