Despite the technological advancements in the last 40 years, conditions such as refractory
cardiogenic shock and cardiac arrest still present a very high mortality rate in real-world clinical
In this light, we have reviewed the techniques, indications, contraindications, and results of the socalled
Veno-Arterial Extracorporeal Circulatory Membrane Oxygenation (VA-ECMO) in the adult
population to evaluate the current results of this temporary cardio-pulmonary support as salvage
and/or bridge therapy in the patient suffering from refractory cardiogenic shock or cardio-circulatory
The results are encouraging, especially in the setting of refractory cardiogenic shock and in-hospital
cardiac arrest. Among a selected population, the prompt institution of a VA-ECMO may radically
change the prognosis by sustaining vital functions while looking for the leading cause or waiting
for the reversal of the temporary cardio-respiratory negative condition.
The future directions aim to standardized and shared protocols, miniaturization of the machines,
and possibly the institution of specialized “ECMO teams” for in and the out-of-hospital institution
of the tool.