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Death by Neurologic Criteria in Children Undergoing Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: Retrospective Extracorporeal Life Support Organization Registry Study, 2017-2021.

OBJECTIVES: To determine factors associated with brain death in children treated with extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (E-cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

DESIGN: Retrospective database study.

SETTINGS: Data reported to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), 2017-2021.

PATIENTS: Children supported with venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for E-cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

INTERVENTION: None.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Data from the ELSO Registry included patient characteristics, blood gas values, support therapies, and complications. The primary outcome was brain death (i.e., death by neurologic criteria [DNC]). There were 2,209 children (≥ 29 d to < 18 yr of age) included. The reason for ECMO discontinuation was DNC in 138 patients (6%), and other criteria for death occurred in 886 patients (40%). Recovery occurred in 1,109 patients (50%), and the remaining 76 patients (4%) underwent transplantation. Fine and Gray proportional subdistribution hazards' regression analyses were used to examine the association between variables of interest and DNC. Age greater than 1 year (p < 0.001), arterial blood carbon dioxide tension (Paco2) greater than 82 mm Hg (p = 0.022), baseline lactate greater than 15 mmol/L (p = 0.034), and lactate 24 hours after cannulation greater than 3.8 mmol/L (p < 0.001) were independently associated with greater hazard of subsequent DNC. In contrast, the presence of cardiac disease was associated with a lower hazard of subsequent DNC (subdistribution hazard ratio 0.57 [95% CI, 0.39-0.83] p = 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS: In children undergoing E-cardiopulmonary resuscitation, older age, pre-event hypercarbia, higher before and during ECMO lactate levels are associated with DNC. Given the association of DNC with hypercarbia following cardiac arrest, the role of Paco2 management in E-cardiopulmonary resuscitation warrants further studies.

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