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  • 1 Cardiac Surgery, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Largo Brambilla, 3, 50134, Florence, Italy
  • 2 Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit of Emergency Department, Careggi Teaching Hospital, Florence, Italy
  • 3 Postgraduate School of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Experimental and Clinical Medicine Department, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
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Abstract

The novel pandemic influenza A (H1N1) caused an epidemic of critical illness, and some patients developed severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or severe cardiopulmonary failure despite the use of conventional management. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support may successfully rescue these severely ill patients. We demonstrate the causative role of H1N1 in refractory ARDS of a previously healthy 15-year-old man who presented to the intensive care unit with a hypoxic and persistent cardiogenic shock refractory to conventional management as the leading symptom of influenza A. Because of compromised cardiopulmonary function, venovenous ECMO was applied 24 h after admission. Despite that the patient was manifesting heart failure, we decided the placement of venovenous ECMO because we believed that the real problem was the uncontrollable hypoxia and hypercapnia. A normal left ventricular ejection fraction was documented on a 2D echocardiography on day 2. The patient, after 6 days of ECMO, recovered completely and was successfully weaned from the mechanical ventilator on the 9th day after admission. The patient was discharged from the hospital on the 15th day. This experience showed that ECMO can be lifesaving for severe H1N1 infection also in patients with atypical clinical presentation of influenza.

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