Review of 1,000 consecutive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation runs as a quality initiative

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a resource-intensive mode of life-support potentially applicable when conventional therapies fail. Given the initial success of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to support neonates and infants in the 1980s, indications have expanded to include adolescents, adults, and selected moribund patients during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This single-institution analysis was conducted to evaluate programmatic growth, outcomes, and risk for death despite extracorporeal membrane oxygenation across all ages and diseases.


Beginning in 1989, we registered prospectively all extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patient data with the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. We queried this registry for our institution-specific data to compare the parameter of “discharge alive” between age groups (neonatal, pediatric, adult), disease groups (respiratory, cardiac, cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and modes of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (veno-venous; veno-arterial). Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation-specific complications (mechanical, hemorrhagic, neurologic, renal, cardiovascular, pulmonary, infectious, metabolic) were analyzed similarly. Descriptive statistics, Kaplan-Meier, and linear regression analyses were conducted.


After 1,052 extracorporeal membrane oxygenation runs, indications have expanded to include adults, to supplement cardiopulmonary resuscitation, to support hemodialysis in neonates and plasmapheresis in children, and to bridge all age patients to heart and lung transplant. Overall survival to discharge was 52% and was better for respiratory diseases (P < .001). Probability of individual survival decreased to <50% if pre-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation mechanical ventilation exceeded respectively 123 hours for cardiac, 166 hours for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and 183 hours for respiratory diseases (P = .013). Complications occurred most commonly among cardiac and cardiopulmonary resuscitation runs (P < .001), the veno-arterial mode (P < .001), and in adults (P = .044).


Our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program, an Extracorporeal Life Support Organization-designated Center of Excellence, has experienced substantial growth in volume and indications, including increasing age and disease severity. Considering the entire cohort, pre-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation ventilation exceeding 7 days was associated with an increased probability of death.

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