Hospital Costs for Neonates and Children Supported with Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

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To assess the characteristics associated with high hospital cost for patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to identify a cohort of high-resource users.

Study design

Cost for hospitalization, during which ECMO support was used, was calculated from hospital charges reported in the 2012 Health Care Cost and Use Project Kid's Inpatient Database. Patients were categorized into 6 diagnostic groups: (1) cardiac surgery; (2) nonsurgical heart disease; (3) congenital diaphragmatic hernia; (4) neonatal respiratory failure; (5) pediatric respiratory failure; and (6) sepsis. We categorized cost into 4 groups based on quartiles. We compared ECMO cost with hospital cost for bone marrow, liver, and kidney transplants performed during the same year.


Median hospital cost for children supported with ECMO (n = 1465) was $230 425 (IQR: $126 599-$420 960). In a multivariable model, lower cost was associated with neonatal respiratory failure (OR: 0.19) and sepsis (OR 0.53) compared with cardiac surgery (OR: 1.88), whereas greater cost was associated with smaller hospital bed-size <99 (OR: 3.49) and 100-399 beds (OR: 3.03) compared with hospitals >400 beds, hospital location (Midwest [OR: 1.74] and West [OR 2.18] compared with North-East), and complications such as renal failure (OR: 3.77) and thromboembolic complications (OR 1.60). Hospital cost per survivor was greater for ECMO ($519 450) than bone marrow transplantation ($207 212), liver ($231 755), or kidney transplantation ($82 008) groups.


Hospitalization cost for children supported with ECMO is high. Diagnosis, hospital characteristics, and presence of complications are associated with increased cost.

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