Minimally invasive mechanical cardiac support without extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in children awaiting heart transplantation

D Marelli, H Laks, D A Meehan, D Fazio, J Alejos
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 1999, 68 (6): 2320-3

BACKGROUND: Mechanical cardiac assist for small children (< 30 kg) requiring bridge strategy to orthotopic heart transplantation often requires sternotomy for cannulation access to ensure perfusion to the aortic arch. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) through neck cannulation is an option in very small (< 10 kg) patients, but the risk of stroke is increased in larger children. Another disadvantage is poor decompression of the left atrium, which can cause persistent pulmonary edema.

METHODS: Two cases are used to illustrate two methods of avoiding sternotomy during mechanical assist in children with dilated cardiomyopathy. One of these approaches avoids the need for extracorporeal oxygenation.

RESULTS: Decompression of the left-sided chambers with a left atrial cannula decreased pulmonary edema and improved pulmonary function.

CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric patients with dilated cardiomyopathy may benefit from a left ventricular assist technique using a centrifugal pump, which avoids the neck vessels and sternotomy, as well as ECMO.

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