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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2006 May;131(5):1114-21.

Extracorporeal life support after staged palliation of a functional single ventricle: subsequent morbidity and survival.

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Department of Critical Care Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.



We sought to review the outcome of infants with a functional single ventricle receiving postoperative extracorporeal life support.


We reviewed all patients with a functional single ventricle receiving postoperative extracorporeal life support between January 1997 and May 2003.


We supported 25 infants (age range, 2-139 days; median age, 15 days; weight range, 1.9-5.9 kg; median weight, 3.4 kg) with extracorporeal life support. Operative procedures were Norwood stage 1 procedure in 18 patients, modified Blalock-Taussig shunt in 4 patients, bidirectional superior cavopulmonary shunt in 2 patients, and pulmonary vein repair in 1 patient. Indications for extracorporeal life support included cardiac arrest (14/25) and low cardiac output state (11/25). Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was initiated in 19 patients, with conversion to a ventricular assist device in 7 patients. Ventricular assist device alone was initiated in 6 patients. Survival to decannulation was 76%, with 5 late deaths from multiorgan failure and 56% intensive care unit survival. Survival to hospital discharge was 44%. On univariate analysis, the presence of arrhythmia before extracorporeal life support (P = .005), renal failure (P = .0007), Candida species-induced sepsis (P = .026), and multiorgan failure (P = .0009) were significant risk factors in the nonsurvivors. Median hospital stay was 43.5 days (range, 6-181 days) for the whole group and 93 days (range, 36-181 days) for survivors. Eight patients completed next stage palliation.


Twenty percent of patients were supported with a ventricular assist device alone, with 50% conversion to a ventricular assist device from extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Survival to decannulation was encouraging. Multiorgan failure and risk of invasive infection in the post-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation period mitigate against survival to hospital discharge. Use of extracorporeal life support before cardiac arrest might reduce attrition between decannulation and hospital discharge.

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