Research: Premature and Extracorporeal Life Support: Is it Time? A Systematic Review


. 2021 Sep 28. doi: 10.1097/MAT.0000000000001555. Online ahead of print.

Premature and Extracorporeal Life Support: Is it Time? A Systematic Review

Carmen Mesas Burgos 1Björn FrencknerLars Mikael BromanAffiliations expand


Early preterm birth < 34 gestational weeks (GA) and birth weight (BW) <2 kg are relative contraindications for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). However, with improved technology, ECMO is presently managed more safely and with decreasing complications. Thus, these relative contraindications may no longer apply. We performed a systematic review to evaluate the existing literature on ECMO in early and late (34-37 GA) prematurity focusing on survival to hospital discharge and the complication intracranial hemorrhage (ICH). Data sources: MEDLINE, PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Database. Only publications in the English language were evaluated. Of the 36 included studies, 23 were related to ECMO support for respiratory failure, 10 for cardiac causes, and four for congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). Over the past decades, the frequency of ICH has declined (89-21%); survival has increased in both early prematurity (25-76%), and in CDH (33-75%), with outcome similar to late prematurity (48%). The study was limited by an inherent risk of bias from overlapping single-center and registry data. Both the risk of ICH and death have decreased in prematurely born treated with ECMO. We challenge the 34 week GA time limit for ECMO and propose an international task force to revise current guidelines. At present, gestational age < 34 weeks might no longer be considered a contraindication for ECMO in premature neonates.

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