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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2002 Jan;123(1):130-6.

Use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in pediatric thoracic organ transplantation.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Mechanical cardiorespiratory support is occasionally required before or after pediatric thoracic organ transplantation. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is the most commonly used mechanical support technique in children. The goal of this study was to examine the indications for initiation and outcomes after peritransplant use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.


A retrospective study was conducted of 65 patients who received peritransplant extracorporeal membrane oxygenation between November 1994 and June 2000. The pretransplant group included 45 patients (average age, 38 months) supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and listed for transplantation (31 heart, 8 lung, and 6 heart-lung), and the post-transplant group included 20 patients (average age, 83 months) who required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation after thoracic organ transplantation (12 heart, 6 lung, and 2 heart-lung transplants). Hospital course and outcomes were evaluated.


With regard to pretransplant extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, patients listed for heart transplants were more likely to survive to transplantation than were those listed for lung or heart-lung transplants (12/31 [39%] vs 1/14 [7%], P =.03). There was no difference in long-term survival between heart transplant patients after extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and those without extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (12-month actuarial survival, 83% vs 73%; P =.68). Patients who survived for prolonged periods on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (>250 hours) typically received heart transplants (7/8 [88%]). With regard to post-transplant extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, patients receiving lung or heart-lung transplants had better short-term outcomes than those receiving heart transplants (63% survived to discharge vs 33%). All 3 patients with early graft dysfunction receiving lung transplants survived to discharge.


Long-term outcomes among those undergoing heart transplantation after support with an extracorporeal membrane oxygenator are comparable with those of patients not receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation can be a useful post-transplant support device, particularly in patients undergoing lung transplants.

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