Rapid-onset plasma leakage of extracorporeal oxygenation membranes possibly due to hyperbilirubinemia

J Artif Organs. 2018 Dec;21(4):475-478. doi: 10.1007/s10047-018-1051-4. Epub 2018 Jun 2.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is an emerging tool for supporting cardiopulmonary function in patients with cardiorespiratory failure or arrest. The oxygenator of the ECMO circuit requires effective oxygenation and removal of carbon dioxide from the blood. Major problems that can occur with the oxygenator include plasma leakage, one of the late-onset serious complications necessitating device replacement. However, the rapid onset of plasma leakage is rare. We present a 1-year-old boy with acute respiratory failure due to Pneumocystis and Aspergillus pneumonia. He presented with tachypnea, tachycardia, and hypoxemia despite the ventilatory support, and was therefore placed on venoarterial ECMO with a drainage catheter from the right internal jugular vein (12 Fr) and a return catheter to the right internal carotid artery (10 Fr). Extracorporeal circulation was initiated at a blood flow of 1 L/min (145 mL/kg/min) and a sweep gas flow of 1 L/min with FiO2 of 0.7. Although he was successfully weaned from the venoarterial ECMO on day 15 with an improvement of cardiopulmonary function, he was later placed on venoarterial ECMO again because of the progression of pulmonary hypertension. Laboratory tests showed increased concentrations of hepatic enzymes and hyperbilirubinemia (total bilirubin 31.6 mg/dL). Six hours after starting ECMO circulation, plasma leakage from the oxygenator occurred. Although we replaced the oxygenator with a new one, the replacement showed plasma leakage after 6 h. Disassembly of the oxygenator revealed congestion from bilirubin in the membrane fibers. We described a case of repeated, rapid-onset plasma leakage after implementation of ECMO. Hyperbilirubinemia was likely associated with the plasma leakage of this patient.

Keywords: Bilirubin; Children; Oxygenator.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Failure
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / complications*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology*