Aims: Primary graft dysfunction (PGD) is a feared complication after heart transplantation (HTX). HTX patients frequently receive veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) until graft recovery. Long-term mortality of patients weaned from VA-ECMO after HTX is comparable with non-ECMO patients. However, impact on quality of life is unknown. This study investigated days alive and out of hospital (DAOH) as patient-centred outcome in HTX patients at 1 year after surgery. Methods and results: This retrospective single-centre cohort study included patients who underwent HTX at the University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany, from 2010 to 2020. Main exposure was VA-ECMO due to PGD. VA-ECMO and non-VA-ECMO patients were compared regarding the primary endpoint DAOH at 1 year after HTX. Subgroup analysis for patients weaned from VA-ECMO was performed. In total, 144 patients were included into analysis; 1 year mortality was significantly lower in non-ECMO patients [non-ECMO 14.3% (14/98) vs. VA-ECMO 34.8% (16/46), adjusted hazard ratio: 0.32, 95% confidence interval: 0.15–0.74; P = 0.002]. Mortality did not differ significantly between patients weaned from VA-ECMO and non-ECMO patients [non-ECMO 14.3% (14/98) vs. VA-ECMO (weaned) 18.9% (7/37), adjusted hazard ratio: 0.72, 95% confidence interval: 0.27–1.90; P = 0.48]. DAOH were significantly higher in non-ECMO patients compared with VA-ECMO patients and patients weaned from VA-ECMO [non-ECMO vs. VA-ECMO: median 310 (inter-quartile range 277–327) days vs. 243 (0–288) days; P < 0.0001; non-ECMO vs. VA-ECMO (weaned): 310 (277–327) days vs. 253 (208–299) days; P < 0.0001]. These results were still significant after multivariable adjustment with forced entry of predefined covariables. Conclusions: Despite similar survival rates, VA-ECMO due to PGD has a relevant life impact as defined by DAOH in the first year after HTX. As a more patient-centred endpoint, DAOH may contribute to a more comprehensive assessment of outcome in HTX patients.
- Cardiac surgery
- Days alive and out of hospital
- Patient-centred outcomes
- Quality of life