Artificial placenta: Recent advances and potential clinical applications

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Lung immaturity remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in extremely premature infants. Positive-pressure mechanical ventilation, the method of choice for respiratory support in premature infants, frequently promotes by itself lung injury and a negative impact in the circulatory function. Extracorporeal lung support has been proposed for more than 50 years as a potential alternative to mechanical ventilation in the treatment of severe respiratory failure of extremely premature infants. Recent advances in this field included the development of miniaturized centrifugal pumps and polymethylpentene oxygenators, as well as the successful use of pump-assisted veno-venous extracorporeal gas exchange systems in experimental artificial placenta models. This review, which includes studies published from 1958 to 2015, presents an update on the artificial placenta concept and its potential clinical applications. Special focus will be devoted to the milestones achieved so far and to the limitations that must be overcome before its clinical application. Notwithstanding, the artificial placenta stands as a promising alternative to mechanical ventilation in extremely premature infants. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2016;51:643–649. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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