Extracorporeal life support in cyanotic congenital heart disease before cardiovascular operation

Nicole M. Hunkeler, Charles E. Canter, Ann Donze, Thomas L. Spray

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30 Scopus citations


From July 1988 to March 1991, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) was used in 8 infants (newborn to 16 months old) with unoperated cyanotic congenital heart disease and cardiopulmonary collapse, associated with hypercyanotic spells (4 infants), pulmonary hypertensive crises (3) and sepsis (1). Indications for ECMO support were arterial saturations ≤60% accompanied by hypotension and metabolic acidosis unresponsive to mechanical ventilation with 100% oxygen, paralysis and sedation, and pharmacologic support with inotropes or vasodilators, or both. Venoarterial bypass by carotid/jugular cannulation with flow rates of 100 to 840 ml/kg/min (mean 460) stabilized all patients. Duration of ECMO support ranged from 15 to 840 hours and was associated with transient seizures (1 patient) and renal failure (1). Seven patients underwent palliative (3 patients) or corrective (4) surgical procedures while on ECMO or within 48 hours of decannulation, including 1 patient bridged to double-lung transplantation with a long (840 hours) duration of ECMO. There was 1 operative and 2 late (>1 month after decannulation) deaths, for an overall survival rate of 62%. These 5 survivors all have normal growth and development, and patent neck vessels at the site of cannulation. These early results indicate that ECMO can be effective mechanical support in cardiovascular crises unbeatable with maximal conventional medical therapy and can be used as a bridge to successful surgical palliation or repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-793
Number of pages4
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 15 1992


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