Send to

Choose Destination
Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Dec;72(6):2095-101; discussion 2101-2.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in children after repair of congenital cardiac lesions.

Author information

Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-5734, USA.



The purpose of this study was to review our experience in the early application of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in patients requiring mechanical assistance after cardiac surgical procedures.


The hospital records of all children requiring ECMO after cardiac operation were retrospectively reviewed, and an analysis of variables affecting survival was performed.


Fifty pediatric patients between May 1997 and October 2000 required ECMO for cardiopulmonary support after cardiac operation. Patients ranged in age from 1 day to 11 years (median age, 40 days). Forty-eight patients underwent repair of congenital cardiac lesions and 2 were included after receiving a heart transplant. Twenty-two children could not be weaned from cardiopulmonary bypass and were placed on ECMO in the operating room for circulatory support. Of the 28 children who required ECMO in the intensive care unit, 10 had ECMO instituted after cardiopulmonary arrest (mean cardiopulmonary resuscitation time 42 minutes; range, 5 to 110 minutes). In infants with single-ventricle physiology, survival to discharge was 61% (11 of 18 patients) as compared with 43% (14 of 32 patients) in those with biventricular physiology. Thirty of the 50 patients (60%) were successfully weaned from ECMO, of which 25 (83%) were discharged home. Overall survival to discharge in the entire cohort was 50%. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support greater than 72 hours was a grave prognostic indicator. Overall survival in this group was 36% (9 of 25 patients) compared with 56% (14 of 25 patients) in those with ECMO support less than 72 hours (p < 0.05). Univariate analysis revealed the presence of renal failure, extended periods of circulatory support, and a prolonged period of cardiopulmonary resuscitation as risk factors for mortality. The presence of shunt-dependent flow, operative procedure, and institution of ECMO in the intensive care unit did not alter survival.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation provides effective support for postoperative cardiac and pulmonary failure refractory to medical management. Early institution of ECMO may decrease the incidence of cardiac arrest and end-organ damage, thus increasing survival in these critically ill patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center