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Mechanical circulatory support for the treatment of children with acute fulminant myocarditis.

BACKGROUND: Viral myocarditis may follow a rapidly progressive and fatal course in children. Mechanical circulatory support may be a life-saving measure by allowing an interval for return of native ventricular function in the majority of these patients or by providing a bridge to transplantation in the remainder.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of 15 children with viral myocarditis supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (12 patients) or ventricular assist devices (3 patients) was performed.

RESULTS: All patients had histories and clinical findings consistent with acute myocarditis. The median age was 4.6 years (range 1 day-13.6 years) with a median duration of mechanical circulatory support of 140 hours (range 48-400 hours). Myocardial biopsy tissue demonstrated inflammatory infiltrates or necrosis, or both, in 8 (67%) of the 12 patients who had biopsies. Overall survival was 12 (80%) of 15 patients, with 10 (83%) survivors of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and 2 (67%) survivors of ventricular assist device support. Nine (60%) of the 15 patients were weaned from support, with 7 (78%) survivors; the remaining 6 patients were successfully bridged to transplantation, with 5 (83%) survivors. All survivors not undergoing transplantation are currently alive with normal ventricular function after a median follow-up of 1.1 years (range 0.9-5.3 years).

CONCLUSION: Eighty-percent of the children who required mechanical circulatory support for acute myocarditis survived in this series. Recovery of native ventricular function to allow weaning from support can be anticipated in many of these patients with excellent prospects for eventual recovery of full myocardial function.

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