Research: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and its complications in newborns with congenital diaphragmatic hernia

J Pediatr Surg

. 2022 Jan 7;S0022-3468(22)00006-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2021.12.028. Online ahead of print.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and its complications in newborns with congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Latoya A Stewart 1Rafael Klein-Cloud 2Claire Gerall 2Weijia Fan 3Jessica Price 2Rebecca R Hernan 4Usha S Krishnan 4Eva W Cheung 4William Middlesworth 2Diana Vargas Chaves 4Russell Miller 5Lynn L Simpson 5Wendy K Chung 4Vincent P Duron 6Affiliations expand


Background: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) is offered to patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) who are in severe respiratory and cardiac failure. We aim to describe the types of complications among these patients and their impact on survival.

Methods: A single-center, retrospective review of CDH patients cannulated onto ECMO between January 2005 and November 2020 was conducted. ECMO complications, as categorized by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), were correlated with survival status. Descriptive statistics were used to compare observed complications between survivors and non-survivors.

Results: In our cohort of CDH neonates, 21% (54/258) were supported with ECMO, of whom, 61% (33/54) survived. Survivors and non-survivors were similar in baseline characteristics except for birthweight z-score (p = 0.043). Seventy percent of CDH neonates experienced complications during their ECMO run, with the most common categories being metabolic (48.1%) and mechanical (38.9%), followed by hemorrhage (22.2%), neurological (18.5%), renal (11.1%), pulmonary (7.4%), and cardiovascular (7.4%). The median number of complications per patient was higher in the non-survivor group (2 (IQR: 1-4) vs 1 (IQR: 0-2), p = 0.043). In addition, mechanical (57.1% vs 27.3%, p = 0.045) and renal (28.6% vs 0%, p = 0.002) complications were more common among non-survivors compared to survivors.

Conclusion: Complications occur frequently among ECMO-treated newborns with CDH, some of which have serious long-term consequences. Survivors had higher birth weight z-scores, shorter ECMO runs, and fewer complications per patient. Mechanical and renal complications were independently associated with mortality, emphasizing the utility of more focused strategies to target fluid balance and renal protection and to prevent circuit and cannula complications.

Keywords: CDH; Complications; ECLS; ECMO; Extracorporeal support.

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