Objective: Using an ex vivo simulation model we set out to estimate the amount of drug lost due to sequestration within the extracorporeal circuit over time.
Design: Simulated closed-loop extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) circuits were prepared using a 1.5-m2 silicone membrane oxygenator. Group A consisted of heparin, dopamine, ampicillin, vancomycin, phenobarbital and fentanyl. Group B consisted of epinephrine, cefazolin, hydrocortisone, fosphenytoin and morphine. Drugs were tested in crystalloid and blood-primed circuits. After administration of a one-time dose of drugs in the priming fluid, baseline drug concentrations were obtained (P0). A simultaneous specimen was stored for stability testing at 24 h (P4). Serial post-membrane drug concentrations were then obtained at 30 min (P1), 3 h (P2) and 24 h (P3) from circuit fluid.
Measurements and results: One hundred and one samples were analyzed. At the end of 24 h in crystalloid-primed circuits, 71.8% of ampicillin, 96.7% of epinephrine, 17.6% of fosphenytoin, 33.3% of heparin, 17.5% of morphine and 87% of fentanyl was lost. At the end of 24 h in blood-primed extracorporeal circuits, 15.4% of ampicillin, 21% of cefazolin, 71% of voriconazole, 31.4% of fosphenytoin, 53.3% of heparin and 100% of fentanyl was lost. There was a significant decrease in overall drug concentrations from 30 min to 24 h for both crystalloid-primed circuits (p = 0.023) and blood-primed circuits (p = 0.04).
Conclusions: Our ex vivo study demonstrates serial losses of several drugs commonly used during ECMO therapy. Therapeutic concentrations of fentanyl, voriconazole, antimicrobials and heparin cannot be guaranteed in patients on ECMO.