Bleeding during veno-venous ECMO cannot reliably be predicted by rotational thrombelastometry (ROTEM™)

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Introduction:Veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (vvECMO) used for respiratory support is associated with clinical bleeding in at least one third of patients. Mechanisms promoting bleeding, like acquired von Willebrand syndrome, cannot be identified by routine coagulation tests. This study was performed to evaluate rotational Thrombelastography (ROTEM™) for specific results predicting bleeding events during vvECMO.Methods:Five hundred and thirty-four ROTEM™ analyses of 57 patients over 574 days have been evaluated. Patients were graded into three groups according to the severity of bleeding, following the Freiburg ECMO bleeding assessment. ROTEM™ results and basic as well as comprehensive laboratory coagulation tests have been compared among the three groups and overall between defined time points.Results:Fourteen patients (25 %) presented without bleeding, 22 patients (39 %) showed mild bleeding and 21 patients (36 %) became evident with relevant clinical bleeding. No bleeding shock and no fatal bleeding event occurred. No case of hyperfibrinolysis was observed. Neither a statistical difference for ECMO blood flow nor duration of therapy among the groups could be shown.The only significant difference was clotting time (CT) in the InTEM analysis, with a median (IQR) of 175 (37.5) seconds in Group 1, 190 (54.5) seconds in Group 2 and 204 (90) seconds in Group 3.When comparing overall ROTEM™ analyses between defined time points, continuous worsening of CT can be found in ExTEM, FibTEM and ApTEM. Reduced A10, A20 and congruently maximum clot firmness, especially, developed in ExTEM and ApTEM and with a minor characteristic in InTEM, but not in FibTEM. ROTEM™ and coagulation-parameter results before 19 clinical relevant bleeding episodes compared to all other results only showed differences in FibTEM.Conclusion:ROTEM™ as a functional viscoelastic analysis does not provide additional information to basic and comprehensive laboratory tests during vvECMO. Bleeding events cannot be predicted by the means of specific ROTEM™ results.

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