BACKGROUND:Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is used as a rescue therapy before and after lung transplantation, but little is known about functional recovery or complications after ECMO in this cohort. This study aimed to describe early physical function and leg complications in subjects who received ECMO before or after lung transplantation, and to compare functional outcomes to a matched cohort of subjects who did not require ECMO. METHODS:A retrospective study was conducted over 2 years. Highest mobility level was assessed, in both the ECMO and non-ECMO groups, prior to ICU admission, at ICU discharge, and at hospital discharge, while 6-min walk distance was measured at hospital discharge and at 3 months. Strength was assessed at ICU discharge and at hospital discharge in the ECMO subjects only, and leg complications were recorded up until hospital discharge. RESULTS:17 subjects (mean age 43 ± 13 y; 65% (11 of 17 subjects) female) required ECMO before or after lung transplant. Survival to hospital discharge was 82% (14 of 17 subjects). At ICU discharge, strength and mobility levels were poor, but both improved by hospital discharge (P < .001). Leg complications were reported in 50% of survivors (7 of 14 subjects). ECMO survivors spent longer in the ICU (P < .001) and hospital (P = .002) and had worse physical function (ie, lower mobility level at ICU discharge, mean difference -1, P = .02; 6-min walk distance at hospital discharge: mean difference -99 m, P = .004) than lung transplant recipients not requiring ECMO (n = 28). CONCLUSIONS:In subjects requiring ECMO before or after lung transplantation, 82% survived to hospital discharge, but leg complications were common and physical function was poor at ICU discharge. Physical function improved over time, however subjects who required ECMO had a longer period of hospitalization and worse physical function at ICU and hospital discharge than those who did not require ECMO.