Prolonged extracorporeal support for nonneonatal respiratory failure

Thomas R. Weber, Thomas F. Tracy, Robert Connors, Barbara Kountzman, D. Glenn Pennington

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20 Scopus citations


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is effective for newborns with pulmonary failure unresponsive to conventional therapy. However, ECMO for the older child and adult has been controversial and not widely utilized. Over 4 years, 24 patients (aged 4 months to 16 years; 11 boys, 13 girls) underwent venoarterial ECMO (duration, 7 to 19 days) for respiratory failure. The diagnoses were: viral pneumonia (7), hydrocarbon aspiration (6), sepsis with adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (2), bacterial pneumonitis (2), tracheal stenosis (1), bilateral pulmonary contusion (1), diaphragmatic hernia with ARDS (1), ketoacidosis with ARDS (1), pulmonary artery injection of hydrocarbon (1), drowning (1), and epiglottis with barotrauma (1). Pre-ECMO blood gas ranges (and means) were PO2 18 to 65 (46), and PCO2 47 to 112 (65). Nineteen patients received dopamine, dobutamine, or other inotrope for associated cardiac and/or renal failure. Cannulation for ECMO was through neck or groin vessels in 17, and sternotomy in 7. ECMO flow rates were 150 to 250 mL/kg/min, to maintain PO2 > 100 and PCO2 < 40. Nine patients (41%) survived ECMO, with eight long-term survivors, (4 hydrocarbon aspiration or injection, 1 pulmonary contusion, 1 viral pneumonia, 1 ARDS, 1 barotrauma), three of whom have mild neurological deficit. All patients with sternotomy, and 8 of 15 with neck and/or groin cannulation, required 1 to 5 explorations for hemorrhage while on ECMO. All survivors had primarily pulmonary failure; patients with combinations of pulmonary, cardiac, and renal failure did not survive. ECMO can be life-saving in the child with isolated pulmonary failure, but its efficacy in patients with mutiorgan failure is uncertain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1100-1105
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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