Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Circulation. 1994 Nov;90(5 Pt 2):II66-9.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support as a bridge to pediatric heart transplantation.

Author information

Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA.



Mechanical circulatory support for intractable heart failure as a bridge to transplantation has been used infrequently in children. The lack of clinically available ventricular assist devices has resulted in the use of conventional extracorporeal circuits with oxygenator as the main modality for circulatory support. In this study we reviewed our experience with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support in children with irreversible heart failure who were awaiting heart transplantation.


Since 1985, 14 children were placed on ECMO support for circulatory failure and were considered candidates for heart transplantation: 8 children had postcardiotomy contractile failure, 3 had dilated cardiomyopathy, and 3 had viral myocarditis. Five of these children had cardiac arrest and were placed on support during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Mean duration of ECMO support was 109 +/- 20 hours. Eight patients developed pulmonary edema requiring decompression of the left ventricle, 3 by blade atrial septostomy and 5 by left atrial vent cannula. Nine of 14 received a heart transplant, 1 child recovered spontaneously (myocarditis), and 4 died of sepsis on ECMO. Of the children who received transplants, 6 were early survivors with 1 late death (lymphoproliferative disease), for a total of 7 of 14 (50%) early and 6 of 14 (43%) late survivors.


Our experience suggests that ECMO is an effective means of circulatory support as a bridge to transplantation in children. Decompression of the left ventricle is often required to prevent pulmonary edema. Sepsis and bleeding remain a limitation to prolonged mechanical support with ECMO in children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center