Update on extracorporeal life support 2004

Semin Perinatol. 2005 Feb;29(1):24-33. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2005.02.005.


Since its beginnings in 1989, the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) Registry has collated and reported data on over 30,000 patients. The majority of patients entered into the Registry have been neonates with respiratory failure from meconium aspiration, persistent pulmonary hypertension, or congenital diaphragmatic hernia. These patients suffer from refractory hypoxemia; thus, this supportive technique came to be called "Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)" for its ability to provide excellent gas exchange. With advances in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment measures for neonatal respiratory failure, need for ECMO support has fallen from the peak of 1500 cases in the early 1990s to 800 cases annually. Sixty-six percent (over 19,000) of patients in the Registry are under the category of neonatal respiratory failure, with a 77% overall survival reported to discharge. The success of neonatal ECMO has led to expansion of the field to pediatric, cardiac, and adult patients. An average of 200 pediatric patients receive ECMO for respiratory failure per year with an overall survival of 55%. Adult respiratory failure patients form a smaller group, with less than 100 cases reported to the ELSO registry per year. Survival mirrors that noted in the pediatric ECMO population. The application of ECMO or related techniques continues to increase for cardiac failure across all age groups. Overall survival in cardiac patients ranges from 33% to 43%. A novel form of extracorporeal support is "ECPR" or ECMO during cardiac arrest. Bypass circuits and equipment can be set up and instituted within a very short period of time in this circumstance, thus the name "rapid deployment ECMO" has become associated with this form of support. Overall survival in the near-600 patients placed on ECMO during resuscitation is 40%.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Extracorporeal Circulation
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation*
  • Heart Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Life Support Care
  • Registries*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Survival Analysis