Extracorporeal life support for pediatric respiratory failure: predictors of survival from 220 patients

Crit Care Med. 1993 Oct;21(10):1604-11. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199310000-00033.


Objective: The purpose of this report was to examine the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization registry database for predictors of outcome for severe pediatric respiratory failure managed with extracorporeal life support.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Extracorporeal Life Support Organization data registry.

Patients: All nonneonatal pediatric patients who were treated in the United States with extracorporeal life support for severe pediatric respiratory failure reported to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization registry as of August 1991. Patients with congenital heart disease and congenital gastrointestinal malformations were excluded from study.

Interventions: Venoarterial or venovenous extracorporeal life support for severe life-threatening pulmonary failures.

Measurements and main results: As of August 1991, 220 pediatric patients meeting study entry criteria were reported to the Registry having received extracorporeal life support for severe pulmonary failure, since 1982. Forty-six percent (102 of 220 patients) were successfully managed with this technology and survived to hospital discharge. The mean patient age was 36.8 +/- 51.6 months. Fifty-one percent of the patients were male. The mean duration of mechanical ventilation before extracorporeal life support was 6.3 +/- 5.9 days. Mean blood gas and ventilatory measurements obtained before extracorporeal life support were as follows: PaCO2 52 +/- 23 torr (6.9 +/- 3.0 kPa); PaO2 59 +/- 32 torr (7.8 +/- 4.3 kPa); estimated alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient 561 +/- 63.4 torr (74.8 +/- 8.5 kPa); peak airway pressure 49.5 +/- 13.1 cm H2O; mean airway pressure 24.3 +/- 8.2 cm H2O; positive end-expiratory pressure 11.8 +/- 6.3 cm H2O; ventilator rate 58 +/- 64.4 breaths/min; and FIO2 0.98 +/- 0.07. The mean duration of extracorporeal life support for all patients was 247 +/- 164 hrs. For the 102 survivors, the mean time for decannulation from extracorporeal life support to extubation from mechanical ventilation was 6.5 +/- 7.6 days. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression modeling found the following variables to be associated with patient survival: a) patient age, b) days of mechanical ventilation before extracorporeal life support, c) peak inspiratory pressure, d) alveolar-arterial oxygen gradient, and e) extracorporeal life support administered since December 31, 1988 (all p < .05).

Conclusions: Extracorporeal life support may represent an effective rescue therapy for some selected pediatric patients with severe respiratory failure for whom conventional mechanical ventilation support has failed to improve. Predictors of survival for this life-support therapy exist that may be helpful for individual patient prognostication and future prospective study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Partial Pressure
  • Registries
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen