Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support for intractable primary arrhythmias and complete congenital heart block in newborns and infants: short-term and medium-term outcomes

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2012 Jan;13(1):47-52. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0b013e3182196cb1.


Objectives: To describe the experience with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support for intractable primary arrhythmias in newborns and infants.

Design: Retrospective study.

Setting: A tertiary care pediatric hospital.

Patients: Patients younger than 1 yr supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for primary cardiac arrhythmias were identified from the institutional extracorporeal membrane oxygenation registry.

Interventions: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support.

Measurements and main results: Clinical characteristics and outcomes were investigated for patients with primary cardiac arrhythmia supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Outcomes investigated were time from initiation of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support to arrhythmia control, duration of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support, and results of interventions performed while supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. We summarized the independent categorical and continuous variables using frequencies, percentages, and medians and ranges, respectively. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support was used in nine patients for rescue therapy for primary tachyarrhythmia and bradycardia. The primary arrhythmias were: focal atrial tachycardia (n = 2); reentrant supraventricular tachycardia (n = 3); junctional ectopic tachycardia (n = 2); and congenital complete atrioventricular block (n = 2) patients. Seven patients presented with severe hemodynamic compromise, with six patients requiring extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation. All patients required extracorporeal membrane oxygenation within 24 hrs of initial presentation. Balloon atrial septostomy was performed in three patients and ablation was performed in two patients. Sinus rhythm was achieved in all reentrant supraventricular tachycardia and rate control was established in both patients with focal atrial tachycardia and in one patient with junctional ectopic tachycardia while using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support. All patients survived to hospital discharge, and median follow-up for the cohort was 5 yrs. There was one late death; all survivors had good overall and neurologic outcomes.

Conclusions: The requirement of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support in newborns and infants with intractable arrhythmia is rare. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support does potentially carry morbidity; however, to prevent arrhythmia-related mortality, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support and/or extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be considered in the management of hemodynamically unstable primary arrhythmias as an emergent lifesaving procedure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / mortality
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness / mortality
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Block / congenital*
  • Heart Block / diagnosis
  • Heart Block / mortality
  • Heart Block / therapy
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome

Supplementary concepts

  • Congenital heart block