From April 1985 to November 1987, over 100 infants were evaluated for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in the treatment of respiratory failure. Of these infants, 40 underwent ECMO after failure of conventional treatment. Four developed gastroduodenal perforations. One developed a perforation prior to going on ECMO and died after several hours on ECMO, one developed a perforation while being treated conservatively for respiratory failure that never required ECMO, and two developed perforations requiring laparotomy while on ECMO. These two infants constitute the first report of successful gastrorrhaphy in infants while being supported by ECMO and anticoagulation with heparin. Particular measures helpful in the management of these infants included near-total cardiopulmonary bypass, reduction of the activated clotting time to 170 to 200, transverse abdominal incision for exposure, use of electrocautery, appropriate drainage of the operative site, insertion of a gastrostomy for gastric decompression and irrigation, rapid weaning from ECMO as soon as respiratory support could be provided by conventional methods, and the use of massive blood and platelet transfusions. In summary, 33 of 40 infants undergoing ECMO survived. Furthermore, two of the three infants with intestinal perforation who underwent ECMO have survived without significant short-term sequelae, and are 24 and 30 months of age, respectively. Therefore, we believe that despite severe respiratory failure requiring ECMO and anticoagulation with heparin, infants with intestinal perforation can be managed surgically with anticipated survival and good long-term prognosis.
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
- gastroduodenal perforation, neonatal
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health