Cannulation configuration and recirculation in venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Louis P. Parker, Anders Svensson Marcial, Torkel B. Brismar, Lars Mikael Broman, Lisa Prahl Wittberg

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome. Femoro-atrial cannulation means blood is drained from the inferior vena cava and returned to the superior vena cava; the opposite is termed atrio-femoral. Clinical data comparing these two methods is scarce and conflicting. Using computational fluid dynamics, we aim to compare atrio-femoral and femoro-atrial cannulation to assess the impact on recirculation fraction, under ideal conditions and several clinical scenarios. Using a patient-averaged model of the venae cavae and right atrium, commercially-available cannulae were positioned in each configuration. Additionally, occlusion of the femoro-atrial drainage cannula side-holes with/without reduced inferior vena cava inflow (0–75%) and retraction of the atrio-femoral drainage cannula were modelled. Large-eddy simulations were run for 2-6L/min circuit flow, obtaining time-averaged flow data. The model showed good agreement with clinical atrio-femoral recirculation data. Under ideal conditions, atrio-femoral yielded 13.5% higher recirculation than femoro-atrial across all circuit flow rates. Atrio-femoral right atrium flow patterns resembled normal physiology with a single large vortex. Femoro-atrial cannulation resulted in multiple vortices and increased turbulent kinetic energy at > 3L/min circuit flow. Occluding femoro-atrial drainage cannula side-holes and reducing inferior vena cava inflow increased mean recirculation by 11% and 32%, respectively. Retracting the atrio-femoral drainage cannula did not affect recirculation. These results suggest that, depending on drainage issues, either atrio-femoral or femoro-atrial cannulation may be preferrable. Rather than cannula tip proximity, the supply of available venous blood at the drainage site appears to be the strongest factor affecting recirculation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16379
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


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