Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an important means of supporting newborns with respiratory failure. While short- and long-term follow-up of ECMO survivors has been thoroughly addressed, there is no systematic study of nonsurvivors. Nineteen nonsurvivors of newborn ECMO with autopsy results are divided into two groups: group 1: 12 patients who had intracranial lesions as the primary cause of death (hemorrhage 8, encephalomalacia 2, infarct 2); and group 2: 7 patients with nonintracranial primary causes of death. Patients in group 1 were significantly more acidotic, hypotensive, and smaller in age and birth weight pre-ECMO. Among group 2 patients, two with diaphragmatic hernia died of primary pulmonary disease (diffuse alveolar damage, pulmonary hypoplasia and necrosis, bronchopneumonia). One of 2 patients with persistent fetal circulation (PFC) was treated with massive doses of tolazoline and suffered fatal gastrointestinal hemorrhage and ischemic necrosis of heart, spleen, testes, and adrenals. The other PFC patient had severe pulmonary interstitial fibrosis. Two patients with meconium aspiration and a patient with streptococcal sepsis had diffuse pulmonary damage and multiple organ failure (renal medullary necrosis, and infarcts of adrenal, spleen, liver). In this series, intracranial pathology was the most common cause of death in ECMO patients, related to gestational age, acidosis, hypoxia, and size, but probably unrelated to carotid ligation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health