Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Support for Pediatric Burn Patients: Is It Worth the Risk?

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2020 May;21(5):469-476. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000002269.


Objectives: Examine the outcomes of pediatric burn patients requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to determine whether extracorporeal membrane oxygenation should be considered in this special population.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: All extracorporeal membrane oxygenation centers reporting to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.

Subjects: Pediatric patients (birth to younger than 18 yr) who were supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation with a burn diagnosis between 1990 and 2016.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: A total of 113 patients were identified from the registry by inclusion criteria. Patients cannulated for respiratory failure had the highest survival (55.7%, n = 97) compared to those supported for cardiac failure (33.3%, n = 6) or extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (30%, n = 10). Patients supported on venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for respiratory failure had the best overall survival at 62.2% (n = 37). Important for the burn population, rates of surgical site bleeding were similar to other surgical patients placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation at 22.1%. Cardiac arrest prior to cannulation was associated with increased hospital mortality (odds ratio, 3.41; 95% CI, 0.16-1.01; p = 0.048). Following cannulation, complications including the need for inotropes (odds ratio, 2.64; 95% CI, 1.24-5.65; p = 0.011), presence of gastrointestinal hemorrhage (p = 0.049), and hyperglycemia (glucose > 240 mg/dL) (odds ratio, 3.42; 95% CI, 1.13-10.38; p = 0.024) were associated with increased mortality. Of patients with documented burn percentage of total body surface area (n = 19), survival was 70% when less than 60% total body surface area was involved.

Conclusions: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation could be considered as an additional level of support for the pediatric burn population, especially in the setting of respiratory failure. Additional studies are necessary to determine the optimal timing of cannulation and other patient characteristics that may impact outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Burns* / therapy
  • Child
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation* / adverse effects
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Respiratory Insufficiency*
  • Retrospective Studies