Background: Primary traumatic injury was considered previously a contraindication for institution of extracorporeal life support because of high risk for persistent or new bleeding. Published experience in adults suggests that extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can successfully support trauma victims with pulmonary failure. The authors reviewed their experience with the use of ECMO in pediatric and adult trauma patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) at a children's medical center.
Methods: ECMO Center records from 1991 through 2001 (76 children, 8 adults) were reviewed to identify all patients with a primary or secondary ICD-9 diagnostic code of posttraumatic ARDS in addition to documented trauma.
Results: Five children and 3 adults with traumatic injury and ARDS received ECMO support. Seven patients were injured in motor vehicle collisions; one patient suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. Patient ages ranged from 21 months to 29 years (pediatric median, 4 years; range, 21 months to 18 years). Four patients had pre-ECMO laparotomies, including 3 who required splenectomy. Four patients had liver lacerations, 3 had pulmonary contusions, and 1 had a renal contusion. Median ventilation before ECMO was 6 days (range, 2 to 10). Seven of 8 patients were placed on venovenous (VV) ECMO. Seven patients had significant bleeding on ECMO. Patients were treated with blood product replacement, epsilon-aminocaproic acid (EACA), and aprotinin infusions. Surgical intervention was not required for bleeding. Six patients received hemofiltration. Median time on ECMO was 653 hours (range, 190 to 921 hours). Six of 8 patients overall survived (75%). Four of 5 pediatric patients survived.
Conclusions: Children and adults with severe posttraumatic ARDS can be treated successfully on VV extracorporeal support. Hemorrhage occurs frequently but is manageable.