ECMO in Neonates with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia: The Experience of a Portuguese ECMO Referral Center

Mariana Miranda, Francisco Abecasis, Sofia Almeida, Erica Torres, Leonor Boto, Cristina Camilo, José Pedro Neves, Miguel Abecasis, Miroslava Gonçalves, Carlos Moniz, Marisa Vieira

Abstract


Introduction: The use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is considered by many authors as one of the most important technological advances in the care of newborns with congenital diaphragmatic hernia. The main objective of this study was to report the experience of a Portuguese ECMO center in the treatment of congenital diaphragmatic hernia.
Material and Methods: Descriptive retrospective study of newborns with congenital diaphragmatic hernia requiring ECMO support in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit from January 2012 to December 2019. Data collection using the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization registration and unit data base.
Results: Fourteen newborns were included, all with left congenital diaphragmatic hernia, in a total of 15 venoarterial ECMO cycles. The median gestational age was 38 weeks and the median birth weight was 2.950 kg. Surgical repair was performed before entry into ECMO in six, during in seven and after in one newborn. The average age at placement was 3.3 days and the median cycle duration was 16 days. Prior to ECMO, all newborns had severe hypoxemia and acidosis despite optimized ventilatory support, with nitric oxide and inotropic therapy. After 24 hours on ECMO, there was correction of acidosis, improvement of oxygenation and hemodynamic stability. All cycles presented mechanical complications, the most frequent being the presence of clots in the circuit. The most frequent physiological complications were hemorrhagic and embolic (three newborns suffered an ischemic stroke during the cycle). Five newborns (35.7%) died, all associated with complications (two strokes, two massive bleedings and one accidental decannulation). Chronic lung disease, poor weight gain and psychomotor developmental delay were the most frequent long-term morbidities.
Discussion: Despite technological advances in respiratory care and improved safety of the ECMO technique, the management of these newborns is complex and there are still several open questions, including the appropriate selection of patients, the best approach and time for surgical correction, and the treatment of pulmonary hypertension in the presence of persistent fetal shunts.
Conclusion: Survival rate was higher than reported in 2017 Extracorporeal Life Support Organization report (64% versus 50%). Mechanical and hemorrhagic complications were very frequent.


Keywords


Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation; Hernias, Diaphragmatic, Congenital; Infant, Newborn; Portugal

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