Percutaneous access for venovenous extracorporeal life support in neonates

C A Reickert, R J Schreiner, R H Bartlett, R B Hirschl
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 1998, 33 (2): 365-9

BACKGROUND: Although percutaneous cannulation has been previously described in adult and pediatric patients older than 3 years, its use in neonates for venovenous extracorporeal life support (ECLS) has not been previously described.

METHODS: Twenty neonates of weight 3.4 +/- 0.6 kg (range, 2.3 to 4.9 kg.) with severe respiratory failure (meconium aspiration syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, sepsis) were managed with double-lumen venovenous ECLS. Percutaneous access via the right internal jugular (RIJ) vein with a 12F (n = 13) or 15F (n = 7) double-lumen ECLS cannula was obtained via a modified Seldinger technique. RIJ access was specifically obtained 2 to 3 cm above the clavicle with a 21-gauge needle and a 0.018-in guide wire followed by a technique that allowed insertion of the larger cannula guide wire. Decannulation simply involved removal of the cannula with hemostasis obtained by direct pressure.

RESULTS: Percutaneous cannulation was performed without difficulty in 11 infants. Conversion to an open technique for cannula placement was required in four patients early in our experience because percutaneous access to the RIJ with the 0.018-inch guide wire could not be achieved, and in one neonate because the 15F cannula could not be advanced into the RIJ and resulted in laceration of the vein. Inability to achieve RIJ access also led to use of an "exposure-assisted" percutaneous procedure in four patients later in our experience. Complications included a pneumothorax identified on chest radiograph 18 hours after cannulation in one infant and partial thrombotic occlusion of the cannula requiring a change over a guide wire in another. There were no problems associated with decannulation.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first description of percutaneous cannulation in neonates for venovenous ECLS. In the authors' early experience, percutaneous access using a 12F double lumen venovenous cannula may be efficiently performed especially in patients >3.0 kg in weight and has the potential for simplifying and reducing the cost of the ECLS technique.

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