Severe thrombocytopenia in adults undergoing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is predictive of thrombosis

Tia C.L. Kohs, Patricia Liu, Vikram Raghunathan, Ramin Amirsoltani, Michael Oakes, Owen J.T. McCarty, Sven R. Olson, Luke Masha, David Zonies, Joseph J. Shatzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) provides lifesaving circulatory support and gas exchange, although hematologic complications are frequent. The relationship between ECMO and severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count <50 × 109/L) remains ill-defined. We performed a cohort study of 67 patients who received ECMO between 2016 and 2019, of which 65.7% received veno-arterial (VA) ECMO and 34.3% received veno-venous (VV) ECMO. All patients received heparin and 25.4% received antiplatelet therapy. In total, 23.9% of patients had a thrombotic event and 67.2% had a hemorrhagic event. 38.8% of patients developed severe thrombocytopenia. Severe thrombocytopenia was more common in patients with lower baseline platelet counts and increased the likelihood of thrombosis by 365% (OR 3.65, 95% CI 1.13–11.8, P = .031), while the type of ECMO (VA or VV) was not predictive of severe thrombocytopenia (P = .764). Multivariate logistic regression controlling for additional clinical variables found that severe thrombocytopenia predicted thrombosis (OR 3.65, CI 1.13–11.78, P = .031). Over a quarter of patients requiring ECMO developed severe thrombocytopenia in our cohort, which was associated with an increased risk of thrombosis and in-hospital mortality. Additional prospective observation is required to clarify the clinical implications of severe thrombocytopenia in the ECMO patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-576
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Anticoagulation
  • ECMO
  • thrombocytopenia
  • thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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