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Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2015 Feb;16(2):167-74. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000000317.

Association of bleeding and thrombosis with outcome in extracorporeal life support.

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1Department of Child Health, Critical Care Medicine, Phoenix Children's Hospital and University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. 2Critical Care Medicine, Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, AZ. 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT. 4Department of Pediatrics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 5Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, MI. 6Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 7Department of Pediatrics, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC. 8Department of Critical Care and Anesthesia, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. 9Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. 10Department of Pediatrics, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. 11Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis Children's Hospital, St. Louis, MO. 12The Extracorporeal Life Support Organization, Ann Arbor, MI. 13Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.



Changes in technology and increased reports of successful extracorporeal life support use in patient populations, such as influenza, cardiac arrest, and adults, are leading to expansion of extracorporeal life support. Major limitations to extracorporeal life support expansion remain bleeding and thrombosis. These complications are the most frequent causes of death and morbidity. As a pilot project to provide baseline data for a detailed evaluation of bleeding and thrombosis in the current era, extracorporeal life support patients were analyzed from eight centers in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network.


Retrospective analysis of patients (< 19 yr) reported to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization registry from eight Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network centers between 2005 and 2011.


Tertiary children's hospitals within the Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network.


The study cohort consisted of 2,036 patients (13% with congenital diaphragmatic hernia).




In the cohort of patients without congenital diaphragmatic hernia (n = 1,773), bleeding occurred in 38% of patients, whereas thrombosis was noted in 31%. Bleeding and thrombosis were associated with a decreased survival by 40% (relative risk, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.53-0.66) and 33% (odds ratio, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.60-0.74). Longer duration of extracorporeal life support and use of venoarterial cannulation were also associated with increased risk of bleeding and/or thrombotic complications and lower survival. The most common bleeding events included surgical site bleeding (17%; n = 306), cannulation site bleeding (14%; n = 256), and intracranial hemorrhage (11%; n = 192). Common thrombotic events were clots in the circuit (15%; n = 274) and the oxygenator (12%; n = 212) and hemolysis (plasma-free hemoglobin > 50 mg/dL) (10%; n = 177). Among patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, bleeding and thrombosis occurred in, respectively, 45% (n = 118) and 60% (n = 159), Bleeding events were associated with reduced survival (relative risk, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.46-0.86) although thrombotic events were not (relative risk, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.67-1.26).


Bleeding and thrombosis remain common complications in patients undergoing extracorporeal life support. Further research to reduce or eliminate bleeding and thrombosis is indicated to help improve patient outcome.

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