Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be used to maintain oxygen delivery and provide hemodynamic support in case of circulatory and respiratory failure. Although the role of ECMO has emerged in the setting of adult liver transplantation (LT), data in children are limited. We aimed to describe the characteristics and outcomes of children receiving ECMO support at the time of or following LT.
All pediatric LT recipients (≤20 y) requiring ECMO support peri-/post-LT were identified from a linked Pediatric Health Information System/Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients dataset (2002–2018). The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression analysis were used to assess post-ECMO survival. A systematic literature review was conducted in accordance with the PRISMA statement.
Thirty-four children required ECMO peri-/post-LT. The median time from LT to ECMO was 5 d (interquartile range, 0.0–12.3), and the median ECMO duration was 1 d (interquartile range, 1.0–6.3). Children started on ECMO within 1 d of LT exhibited superior survival compared with those started on ECMO later (P = 0.03). When adjusting for recipient weight, increasing time from LT to ECMO initiation was associated with increased risk of mortality (hazard ratio, 1.03; 95% confidence interval, 1.00-1.06; P = 0.049). Overall, 55.9% (n = 19 of 34) of the patients survived. Twenty-two children receiving ECMO in the peri-/post-LT period were systematically reviewed, and 15 of them survived (68.2%).
With an encouraging >55% patient survival at 6 mo, ECMO should be considered as a viable option in pediatric LT recipients with potentially reversible severe respiratory or cardiovascular failure refractory to conventional treatment.