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ASAIO J. 2012 Mar-Apr;58(2):148-54. doi: 10.1097/MAT.0b013e3182436817.

Development of an artificial placenta IV: 24 hour venovenous extracorporeal life support in premature lambs.

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Section of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.


An extracorporeal artificial placenta would change the paradigm of treating extremely premature infants. We hypothesized that a venovenous extracorporeal life support (VV-ECLS) artificial placenta would maintain fetal circulation, hemodynamic stability, and adequate gas exchange for 24 hours. A near-term neonatal lamb model (130 days; term = 145 days) was used (n = 9). The right jugular vein was cannulated for VV-ECLS outflow, and an umbilical vein was used for inflow. The circuit included a peristaltic roller pump and a 0.5 m(2) hollow fiber oxygenator. Lambs were maintained on VV-ECLS in an "amniotic bath" for up to 24 hours. Five of nine fetuses survived for 24 hours. In the survivors, average mean arterial pressure was 69 ± 10 mm Hg for the first 4 hours and 36 ± 8 mm Hg for the remaining 20 hours. The mean fetal heart rate was 202 ± 30. Mean VV-ECLS flow was 94 ± 20 ml/kg/min. Using a gas mixture of 50% O(2)/3% CO(2) and sweep flow of 1-2 L/min, the mean pH was 7.27 ± 0.09, with Po(2) of 35 ± 12 mm Hg and Pco(2) of 48 ± 12 mm Hg. Necropsy revealed a patent ductus arteriosus in all cases, and there was no gross or microscopic intracranial hemorrhage. Complications in failed attempts included technically difficult cannulation and multisystem organ failure. Future studies will enhance stability and address the factors necessary for long-term support.

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