The effect of arterial cannula tip position on differential hypoxemia during venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Avishka Wickramarachchi, Aidan J.C. Burrell, Andrew F. Stephens, Michael Šeman, Ashkan Vatani, Mehrdad Khamooshi, Jaishankar Raman, Rinaldo Bellomo, Shaun D. Gregory

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Interaction between native ventricular output and venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA ECMO) flow may hinder oxygenated blood flow to the aortic arch branches, resulting in differential hypoxemia. Typically, the arterial cannula tip is placed in the iliac artery or abdominal aorta. However, the hemodynamics of a more proximal arterial cannula tip have not been studied before. This study investigated the effect of arterial cannula tip position on VA ECMO blood flow to the upper extremities using computational fluid dynamics simulations. Four arterial cannula tip positions (P1. common iliac, P2. abdominal aorta, P3. descending aorta and P4. aortic arch) were compared with different degrees of cardiac dysfunction and VA ECMO support (50%, 80% and 90% support). P4 was able to supply oxygenated blood to the arch vessels at all support levels, while P1 to P3 only supplied the arch vessels during the highest level (90%) of VA ECMO support. Even during the highest level of support, P1 to P3 could only provide oxygenated VA-ECMO flow at 0.11 L/min to the brachiocephalic artery, compared with 0.5 L/min at P4. This study suggests that cerebral perfusion of VA ECMO flow can be increased by advancing the arterial cannula tip towards the aortic arch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Cannula position
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Harlequin syndrome
  • Mixing zone
  • North–south syndrome
  • Watershed region

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