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Clinical and Billing Review of Extracorporeal Membrane OxygenationClinical and Billing Review of ECMO

James M. Blum, MD; William R. Lynch, MD; Craig M. Coopersmith, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Anesthesiology (Dr Blum) and the Department of Surgery (Dr Coopersmith), Emory Critical Care Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; and the Section of Thoracic Surgery (Dr Lynch), Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: James M. Blum, MD, Emory University Hospital, 1364 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30322; e-mail: jmblum@emory.edu


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2015;147(6):1697-1703. doi:10.1378/chest.14-2954
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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a temporary technique for providing life support for cardiac dysfunction, pulmonary dysfunction, or both. The two forms of ECMO, veno-arterial (VA) and veno-venous (VV), are used to support cardiopulmonary and pulmonary dysfunction, respectively. Historically, ECMO was predominantly used in the neonatal and pediatric populations, as early adult studies failed to improve outcomes. ECMO has become far more common in the adult population because of positive results in published case series and clinical trials during the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic in 2009 to 2010. Advances in technology that make the technique much easier to implement likely fueled the renewed interest. Although exact criteria for ECMO are not available, patients who are good candidates are generally considered to be relatively young and suffering from acute illness that is believed to be reversible or organ dysfunction that is otherwise treatable. With the increase in the use in the adult population, a number of different codes have been generated to better identify the method of support with distinctly different relative value units assigned to each code from a very simple prior coding scheme. To effectively be reimbursed for use of the technique, it is imperative that the clinician understands the new coding scheme and works with payers to determine what is incorporated into each specific code.

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