The use of ECMO for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn: a decade of experience

J Surg Res. 2012 Oct;177(2):263-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2012.07.058. Epub 2012 Aug 10.


Purpose: Despite improvements in the management of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a number of infants with inadequate gas exchange are treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). The objectives of this study were to use the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization Registry to review the outcomes of neonates with PPHN receiving ECMO, and to identify pre-ECMO variables that may be associated with increased mortality.

Materials and methods: The study is a retrospective analysis of all patients with PPHN supported with ECMO and reported to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization registry from 2000 to 2010. Prematurity was defined as <37 wk gestation. Univariate analysis was performed using Student's t-test or Fisher's exact test. Variables found to be statistically significant underwent multivariate analysis by logistic regression. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were generated to analyze the relationship between duration of ECMO support and patient survival.

Results: A total of 1569 neonates with PPHN received ECMO support during the study period, at an average age of 3.1 d of life and for a duration of 6.9 d. Survival among neonates with PPHN receiving ECMO support was 81%, and those receiving support for 7, 10, 14, and 21 d survived at rates of 88%, 78%, 55%, and 25%, respectively. By logistic regression, prematurity (P < 0.01), pre-ECMO pH ≤7.2 (P = 0.02), pre-ECMO SaO(2) ≤65% (P = 0.01), and duration of ECMO ≥7 d (P < 0.001) were independent predictors of death in this group. An average of 2.2 complications occurred per patient, with cardiovascular, mechanical, and renal complications being the most common.

Conclusions: Neonates with PPHN have high survival rates with ECMO support. Prematurity, acidosis, and profound hypoxemia are independently associated with increased mortality. Furthermore, prolonged ECMO support (>7 d) is associated with a higher risk of mortality in this cohort than in patients supported for <1 wk.

MeSH terms

  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Persistent Fetal Circulation Syndrome / mortality
  • Persistent Fetal Circulation Syndrome / therapy*
  • Registries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome