There is a paucity of data regarding the use of direct thrombin inhibitors such as bivalirudin for children on extracorporeal life support (ECLS). We sought to compare the outcomes of children on ECLS anticoagulated with bivalirudin versus heparin. Patients transitioned from heparin to bivalirudin were treated as a separate group. A single-institution, retrospective review of all consecutive children (neonate to 18 years) placed on ECLS in the cardiac or pediatric intensive care units was performed (June 2018-December 2019). Data collected included demographics, anticoagulation strategy, number of circuit interventions, blood product use on ECLS, survival to decannulation, and survival to discharge. Fifty-four children were placed on ECLS for a total of 56 runs. Demographics and venovenous versus venoarterial ECLS were similar. The bivalirudin group had longer median duration of support compared to the heparin group––11.0 days [IQR 6.2, 23.1] versus 3.3 days [2.1, 6.2], P <.001. Patients switched from heparin to bivalirudin had a similar duration of support (10.3 days [8.3, 18.3]) as those on bilvalirudin alone. However, there was no difference in red blood cell, fresh frozen plasma, or platelet transfusions. There was no difference in the number of circuit interventions, survival to decannulation or discharge. The freedom to first circuit intervention was longer with bivalirudin compared to heparin. Our data suggest that even with longer pediatric ECLS runs on bivalirudin, there were no differences in the outcomes between the heparin and bivalirudin groups, with longer freedom from first circuit intervention with bivalirudin. While this is the largest reported series comparing children on ECLS anticoagulated with heparin versus bivalirudin, larger studies are needed to determine the optimal anticoagulation strategy for this diverse and complicated group of children.
- extracorporeal life support