Impact of dynamic changes of elevated bilirubin on survival in patients on venoarterial extracorporeal life support for acute circulatory failure

Miriam Freundt, Dirk Lunz, Alois Philipp, Bernd Panholzer, Matthias Lubnow, Christine Friedrich, Leopold Rupprecht, Stephan Hirt, Assad Haneya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aims: Veno-arterial extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is an established method to stabilize acute circulatory failure. Parameters and data on when to ideally wean circulatory support are limited. Bilirubin is a marker of end-organ damage. Therefore, the purpose of this large study was to evaluate the impact of dynamic changes of elevated bilirubin levels on survival in patients on ECLS. Methods and results: We reviewed 502 consecutive cases of ECLS from 2007 to 2015. Bilirubin levels were recorded before implantation and until six days after explantation. Dynamic bilirubin changes, and hemodynamic and laboratory outcome parameters were compared in survivors and nonsurvivors. Reason for ECLS implantation was cardiac arrest with ongoing resuscitation in 230 (45.8%), low cardiac output in 174 (34.7%) and inability to wean off cardiopulmonary bypass in 98 (19.5%) patients. 307 (61.2%) patients were weaned off ECLS, however, 206 (41.0%) survived. Mean duration of ECLS was 3 (2–6) days, and survivors received significantly longer ECLS (5 vs 3 days, p < 0.001). Survivors had significantly lower baseline bilirubin levels (p = 0.003). Bilirubin started to rise from day 2 in all patients. In survivors, bilirubin levels had trended down on the day of ECLS explantation and stayed at an acceptable level. However, in weaned patients who did not survive and patients who died on ECLS bilirubin levels continued to rise during the recorded period. Conclusion: ECLS support improves survival in patients with acute circulatory failure. Down trending bilirubin levels on veno-arterial ECLS indicate improved chances of successful weaning and survival in hemodynamically stable patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0184995
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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