Extracorporeal life support applications have evolved considerably in recent years. However, the blood-biomaterial interface remains incompletely understood, and management of the acute inflammatory response and coagulation pathways continues to be challenging. At present, the gold standard for anticoagulation is unfractionated heparin. Since the inception of extracorporeal life support, the mainstay for anticoagulation monitoring has been activated clotting time. However, alongside the technological evolution in extracorporeal life support, the methods for monitoring heparin have also become more sophisticated, adding additional layers of complexity to creating an ideal safe protocol for anticoagulation during extracorporeal life support. To address this, the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization has formed an Anticoagulation Task Force to help direct both a consensus statement and potential guidelines within which the multiple monitoring methods can be customized for extracorporeal life support. One key question that remains in the use of these monitoring methods is whether the objective during extracorporeal life support is to anticoagulate the circuit to prevent thrombus formation within the extracorporeal device or whether it is to systemically anticoagulate the patient. This review details all current monitoring methods and highlights how they can be used during pediatric mechanical circulatory support.
1C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI.
2Congenital Heart Surgery, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX.
3Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.
The authors have disclosed that they do not have any potential conflicts of interest.
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