Extracorporeal life support for pediatric respiratory failure

F W Moler, J R Custer, R H Bartlett, J Palmisano, J N Meliones, R E Delius, E I Braden, S Snedecor
Critical Care Medicine 1992, 20 (8): 1112-8

OBJECTIVES: The purposes of this report are to a) describe the University of Michigan experience with venoarterial or venovenous extracorporeal life support for severe pediatric pulmonary rescue therapy, and b) examine survivors and nonsurvivors for differences that might be useful for examination in future, prospective studies.

DESIGN: Case series report. Phase I study of safety and effectiveness of extracorporeal life support for pediatric respiratory failure.

SETTING: University of Michigan Medical Center.

PATIENTS: Non-neonatal pediatric patients treated with extracorporeal life support for severe respiratory failure at the University of Michigan.

INTERVENTIONS: Extracorporeal life support for pulmonary failure.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: From November 1982 until May 1991, 25 pediatric patients underwent extracorporeal life support for severe pulmonary failure. Twenty patients were treated in the last 36 months. Sixty percent (15/25 patients) survived their life-threatening respiratory illness, were weaned from mechanical ventilation, and were discharged home. The mean patient age was 4.1 yrs, and mechanical ventilation duration before extracorporeal life support was 5.9 days. Mean blood gas data and mechanical ventilation pressures before extracorporeal life support were: peak inspiratory pressure of 48.6 cm H2O, mean airway pressure of 21.9 cm H2O, positive end-expiratory pressure of 9.7 cm H2O, PaCO2 of 43 torr (5.7 kPa), PaO2 of 69 torr (9.1 kPa), estimated alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient of 563 torr (75 kPa), and FIO2 of 0.98. Variables associated with survival included: age of survivors vs. nonsurvivors, 2.1 vs. 7.1 yrs (p less than .02); peak inspiratory pressure of survivors vs. nonsurvivors, 43.1 vs. 57.9 cm H2O (p less than .03); mean airway pressure of survivors vs. nonsurvivors, 18.4 vs. 27.2 cm H2O (p less than .03); and positive end-expiratory pressure of survivors vs. nonsurvivors, 8.1 vs. 12.1 cm H2O (p less than .01). There were no differences detectable in the blood gas values (PaO2, PaCO2, P[A-a]O2) in survivors and nonsurvivors before extracorporeal life support. The number of days mechanical ventilation was used before extracorporeal life support in survivors and in nonsurvivors was similar.

CONCLUSION: Extracorporeal life support is an effective rescue therapy for pediatric patients with severe respiratory failure (University of Michigan survival rate of 60%).

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