The retention of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) cannulae after ECMO is discontinued was originally developed to avoid reexploration of the neck in patients who may require a second course of ECMO. Because of the incidence, at the authors' institution, of thrombi noted on the ends of retained cannulae and their potential to cause significant morbidity, a critical review of this procedure was initiated. A telephone survey of 72 Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) centers was conducted, and ELSO registry forms were requested for patients who had their cannulae retained. Twenty-four of these centers had performed the procedure of retaining ECMO cannulae. There were 324 neonatal and pediatric patients who had their cannulae retained, with 41 patients (12%) requiring a second course of ECMO and 17 of 41 (41%) surviving the second course. Twelve of the 24 ELSO centers that retain cannulae have reported complications. Analyses of the patients who had their cannulae retained showed that the three best predictors for requiring a second course of ECMO were the diagnosis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a high oxygenation index just before the initiation of ECMO, and a lengthy first ECMO course. The only difference between the survivors and nonsurvivors of the second course of ECMO was the length of the first ECMO course (P < .05). Five of the 25 patients who required two courses of ECMO had serious complications from their retained cannulae and all were nonsurvivors. The authors conclude that patients with retained ECMO cannulae are at high risk for developing thrombi, which can lead to severe embolic events. Therefore, the procedure of retaining cannulae should only be used in patients at high risk for requiring a second course of ECMO and not for the convenience of surgical availability to remove the cannulae.
- ECMO cannulae
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
- congenital diaphragmatic hernia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health