Systemic hypertension associated with venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for pediatric respiratory failure

Judith A Heggen, James D Fortenberry, April J Tanner, Christopher A Reid, Dana W Mizzell, Robert Pettignano
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2004, 39 (11): 1626-31

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Arterial hypertension (HTN) is common in neonates on venoarterial (VA) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), but HTN in pediatric venovenous (VV) ECMO has not been well described. The authors noted HTN in their VV ECMO experience and hypothesized that HTN was associated with fluid status, steroid use, and renal insufficiency.

METHODS: Records of 50 patients receiving VV ECMO for respiratory failure were reviewed. HTN was defined as systolic blood pressure greater than 95th percentile for age for > or =1 hour, unresponsive to sedation/analgesia. Hypertensive index (HI) is defined as total hypertensive hours per total ECMO hours. Fluid status was estimated by a fluid index (FI = total fluid balance during ECMO per ECMO hours per weight).

RESULTS: Forty-seven of 50 patients (94%) had HTN. Median HI was 0.21 (range, 0.01 to 1.0). Thirteen patients had renal insufficiency, 39 received steroids, and 23 received continuous venovenous hemofiltration (CVVH). There was no association between HI and FI, steroid use, or renal insufficiency. Thirty-three patients were treated for HTN, often requiring multiple agents. Bleeding complicated the course of 18 patients, and HI was significantly higher in those patients (P = .03). HI was not different between survivors (37 of 39 with HTN) and nonsurvivors (10 of 11 with HTN).

CONCLUSIONS: Hypertension is a common complication associated with VV ECMO with unclear etiology. HTN was frequently difficult to control. This study emphasizes the need for the development of treatment protocols to decrease the incidence, severity, and associated morbidity. Improved insight into the etiology of HTN associated with pediatric VV ECMO, including evaluation of the renin-angiotensin system, would help guide therapy.

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