Introduction: Newborns in need of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support are at high risk of developing acute kidney injury (AKI). AKI may occur as part of multiple organ failure and can be aggravated by exposure to components of the extracorporeal circuit. AKI necessitates adjustment of dosage of renally eliminated drugs and avoidance of nephrotoxic drugs. We aimed to define systematically the incidence and clinical course of AKI in critically ill neonates receiving ECMO support.
Methods: This study reviewed prospectively collected clinical data (including age, diagnosis, ECMO course, and serum creatinine (SCr)) of all ECMO-treated neonates within our institution spanning a 14-year period. AKI was defined by using the Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss of renal function, and End-stage renal disease (RIFLE) classification. SCr data were reviewed per ECMO day and compared with age-specific SCr reference values. Accordingly, patients were assigned to RIFLE categories (Risk, Injury, or Failure as 150%, 200%, or 300% of median SCr reference values). Data are presented as median and interquartile range (IQR) or number and percentage.
Results: Of 242 patients included, 179 (74%) survived. Median age at the start of ECMO was 39 hours (IQR, 26 to 63); median ECMO duration was 5.8 days (IQR, 3.9 to 9.4). In total, 153 (64%) patients had evidence of AKI, with 72 (30%) qualifying as Risk, 55 (23%) as Injury, and 26 (11%) as Failure. At the end of the study period, only 71 (46%) patients of all 153 AKI patients improved by at least one RIFLE category. With regression analysis, it was found that nitric oxide ventilation (P = 0.04) and younger age at the start of ECMO (P = 0.004) were significant predictors of AKI. Survival until intensive care unit discharge was significantly lower for patients in the Failure category (35%) as compared with the Non-AKI (78%), Risk (82%), and Injury category (76%), with all P < 0.001, whereas no significant differences were found between the three latter RIFLE categories.
Conclusions: Two thirds of neonates receiving ECMO had AKI, with a significantly increased mortality risk for patients in the Failure category. As AKI during childhood may predispose to chronic kidney disease in adulthood, long-term monitoring of kidney function after ECMO is warranted.