ECMO and Calcium Channel Blocker Overdose: A Systematic Review

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

ASAIO Journal


Introduction: The increasing indications and prevalence of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) are evident by the exponential increase in ECMO in the last decade. In recent literature, ECMO use has sustained patients who have intentionally or unintentionally overdosed on cardiac medications. Specifically, calcium channel blocker overdose (CCBOD) can lead to significant cardiopulmonary dysfunction and has increased in recent years. Calcium channel blockers (CCB) block L-type voltage gated calcium channels throughout the body, and overdose results in cardiac depression, vasoplegia, and hyperglycemia. Expert consensus and poison control centers both recommend treatment with calcium, high dose insulin, inotropes, and vasopressors. Our systematic review evaluated when to initiate ECMO in the CCBOD population and the mortality rate with ECMO use. Methods: An electronic literature review was conducted to identify all relevant studies for CCB use and ECMO. PRISMA guidelines for systematic review were followed. Rayyan was used as a screening tool for blinding the authors from each other, and abstracts and full texts were reviewed by three independent authors. Inclusion criteria were strictly limited to CCB ingestion without polypharmacy. A data collection tool was devised and data was independently collected by two authors prior to statistical analysis. Data points included demographics, a list of currently recommended medical treatments for CCBOD, ECMO cannulation type, and survival to hospital discharge. Results: After exclusion of duplicates, 314 abstracts were reviewed; of these 25 papers were included from 6 different countries, with the median year of the study publication 2019. From the 25 papers, 26 patients were studied with an average patient age of 32.7 years with 42% male and 58% female. Between male and female there was no significant difference in age, type of CCB taken, or days on ECMO. Average time on ECMO was 4.3 days. Venoarterial and venovenous ECMO use were 92.3% and 7.7%, respectively. Survival to hospital discharge was 84.6%. Prior to ECMO cannulation, patients received up to six medical treatments for CCBOD, with the majority receiving four to five treatments (53.8%). There was no correlation between number of therapies and days on ECMO (r=0.092, P=0.684). Conclusion: Our systematic review demonstrates that ECMO is a newly used and possibly valuable therapy for CCBOD when medical treatment fails. Most patients received aggressive medical therapies and still were unstable enough to require ECMO. Survival to discharge after ECMO for CCBOD is substantially higher than standard VV or VA ECMO uses. While medical management is still the main therapy for CCBOD, our results show that a persistently unstable patient may benefit from prompt evaluation at an ECMO center for treatment.




Suppl. 2

First Page



Michigan Chapter of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Annual Meeting, May 16-19, 2023, Boyne Falls, Michigan.

68th Annual Conference of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs, ASAIO, June 14-17, 2023, San Francisco, CA