NYMC Faculty Publications

Groin Wound Management After Decannulation of Veno-Arterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation in Heart Transplantation: Role of Sartorius Muscle Flap

Author Type(s)

Student, Resident/Fellow, Faculty

Journal Title

Clinical Transplantation

First Page


Document Type


Publication Date




Second Department



BACKGROUND: The management of complex groin wounds following VA-ECMO after heart transplant (HT) is uncertain due to limited experience. Sartorius muscle flaps (SMF) have been used in vascular surgery for groin wound complications. However, their use in HT recipients with perioperative VA-ECMO is unclear. This study aims to describe characteristics and outcomes of HT patients with groin complications after arterial decannulation for femoral VA-ECMO. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed HT patients who underwent peri-transplant femoral VA-ECMO at our institution from April 2011 to February 2023. Patients were categorized into two groups based on the presence of cannulation-related wound complications. RESULTS: Among the 34 patients requiring VA-ECMO peri-transplant, 17 (50%) experienced complications at the cannulation site. Baseline characteristics including duration of VA-ECMO support were comparable in both groups. Patients with complications presented mostly with open wounds (41.1%) after a median duration of 22 days post-transplant. Concurrent groin infections were observed in 52.3% of patients, all caused by gram-negative bacteria. Wound complications were managed with 12 (70.6%) undergoing SMF treatment and 5 (31.2%) receiving conventional therapy. Four SMF recipients had preemptive procedures for wound dehiscence, while eight underwent SMF for groin infections. Among the SMF group, 11 patients had favorable outcomes without recurrent complications, except for one patient who developed a groin infection with pseudoaneurysm formation. Conventional therapy with vacuum assisted closure (VAC) and antibiotics were utilized in four patients without infection and one patient with infection. Three patients required additional surgeries with favorable healing of the wound. CONCLUSION: Complications related to femoral VA-ECMO are common in HT patients, with infection being the most frequent complication. SMFs can be a useful tool to prevent progression of infection and improve local healing.