Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for nonneonatal pulmonary and multiple-organ failure

T R Weber, B Kountzman
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 1998, 33 (11): 1605-9

PURPOSE: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an accepted therapy for neonatal pulmonary failure, but its use in older children has been controversial.

METHODS: Over 13 years, 55 children (ages, 3 months to 16 years) were treated with venoarterial or venovenous ECMO. The diagnoses were viral, bacterial, or fungal pneumonia (24 patients); hydrocarbon or gastric aspiration (n = 10); adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, near drowning (n = 15); pulmonary contusion (n = 2); airway obstruction (n = 3); pulmonary artery foreign body (n = 1). Pre-ECMO blood gas ranges (and means) were PO2, 21 to 100 (n = 44); PCO2, 23 to 125 (n = 72); pH, 6.81 to 7.55 (n = 7.11).

RESULTS: All patients received inotropes, and 38 required dialysis or hemofiltration. ECMO was used for 20 to 613 hours (mean, 196 hours). Patient complications included cannulation site hemorrhage (n = 40), renal failure (n = 10), seizures (n = 8), stroke (n = 3), and cerebral hemorrhage (n = 2). Twenty-five patients (45%) survived ECMO, with 21 long-term survivors (10 pneumonia, five aspiration, five ARDS, one pulmonary contusion), five of whom have mild to moderate neurological deficit. Patients with combinations of pulmonary, cardiac, and renal failure, or sepsis did not survive.

CONCLUSIONS: ECMO is an invasive technique that can be life saving in the child with isolated respiratory failure, but its usefulness in children with multiorgan failure is less certain.

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