Complications of neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: Collective experience from the extracorporeal life support organization

J. B. Zwischenberger, T. T. Nguyen, J. R. Upp, P. E. Bush, C. S. Cox, T. Delosh, L. Broemling, W. J. Wells, J. B.D. Mark, L. Brunsting, M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since 1973, 7667 neonates have been treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for severe respiratory failure and their cases reported to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization Registry. The overall survival was 81% in these neonates, who were thought to have a survival of 20% without extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. A total of 4322 mechanical complications (0.56 ± 0.84 per case) and 13,827 patient complications (1.80 ± 2.12 per case) were reported overall. The most common mechanical complications included clots in the circuit (19%), cannula placement (9%), oxygenator failure (4%), and others (9%). Common patient complications included cardiopulmonary (43%), neurologic (35%), bleeding (35%), metabolic (32%), renal (25%), and infectious (9%). From the initial experience to 1988 the average number of mechanical complications per case was 0.27 per case and this significantly increased during 1990 to 1992 to 0.75 per case (p < 0.05). Likewise, from 1973-1985 to 1988 the average patient complications per case were 1.44 per case and this significantly increased during 1990 to 1992 to 2.10 per case. During the same periods, patient survival significantly decreased from 84% (1973-1985 to 1988, n = 2463) to 80% (1990 to 1992, n = 4005). Venovenous double-lumen single cannula extracorporeal membrane oxygenation had a higher survival than venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (91% versus 81%) and a lower rate of major neurologic complications. The incidence and survival with seizures (6% and 89% venovenous versus 13% and 61% venoarterial) or cerebral infarction (9% and 69% venovenous versus 14% and 46% venoarterial) was significantly lower with the venovenous method and appeared to have a substantial impact on overall survival. The correlation of patient complication rate and total complication rate with survival was highly significant, however, causality cannot be established. Explanations for the increase in complications, relative to a decrease in survival, despite a growing nationwide experience include (1) increased complexity of cases as many programs expand entry criteria (more premature infants, infants with grade 1 or 2 intracranial hemorrhage, and complex congenital diaphragmatic hernia), (2) a growing number of programs with fewer cases per program, yet greater accessibility, (3) less reluctance to report complications encountered during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as group experience grows, and (4) changes in the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization data form to be more inclusive of more minor complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-849
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Volume107
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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