Evolution of Technology, Establishment of Program, and Clinical Outcomes in Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: The “SickKids” Experience

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Technological development has had a tremendous impact on the management of patients who require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Team development and education are a vital component of a successful extracorporeal life support (ECLS) Program to reduce complications and subsequently improve clinical outcomes. We sought to review the evolution in technology, importance of team development and training, and report our experience at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. There were a total of 576 ECMO runs in 534 patients (42 repeat ECMO runs) between January 1988 and June 2012. The use of ECMO for cardiac disease has increased in the last decade due to an expanded indication for ECMO in patients with single-ventricle physiology. Cardiac ECMO still remains a challenge in terms of survival (177/392, 45%). Although development of an ECLS program and team education facilitated extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation, clinical outcomes were not satisfactory (survival, 33%). The most common complications were hemorrhagic (13.8%), followed by renal (10.6%) and pulmonary dysfunction (6.9%). Advances in technology made management during ECMO safer, and the mechanical complications related to the ECMO system were 6.1%, including circuit changes due to thrombus formation, cannula repositioning, or optimization of size.

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