Extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation in the management of 2009 influenza A (H1N1) refractory respiratory failure.

Rapidly progressive acute respiratory failure attributed to 2009 H1N1 influenza A infection has been reported worldwide-3. Refractory hypoxaemia despite conventional mechanical ventilation and lung protective strategies has resulted in the use a combination of rescue therapies, such as conservative fluid management, prone positioning, inhaled nitric oxide, high frequency oscillatory ventilation and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)4. ECMO allows for pulmonary or cardiopulmonary support as an adjunct to respiratory and cardiac failure, minimising ventilator-associated lung injury (VALI). This permits treatment of the underlying disease process, while concurrently allowing for recovery of the acute lung injury. This case documents a previously healthy twenty-two year old Asian male patient with confirmed pandemic (H 1N1) 2009 influenza A who was successfully managed with ECMO in the setting of severe refractory hypoxaemia and progressive hypercapnia.