AAP Paper| Volume 48, ISSUE 6, P1172-1176, June 2013

Repair of congenital diaphragmatic hernias on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO): Does early repair improve patient survival?



      The optimal timing of repair for congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) patients that require ECMO is controversial. Early repair on ECMO theoretically allows for restoration of normal thoracic anatomy but entails significant bleeding risks. The purpose of this study was to examine the institutional outcomes of early CDH repair on ECMO.


      The records of infants with CDH placed on ECMO from 2001 to 2011 were reviewed. Since 2009, a protocol was instituted for early repair while on ECMO. For this study, three cohorts were analyzed: early repair (<72 h), late repair (>72 h), and post-decannulation. These groups were compared for outcomes regarding morbidity and survival.


      Forty-six CDH patients received ECMO support with an overall survival of 53%. Twenty-nine patients (11 early/18 late) were repaired on ECMO, while 17 patients had repair post-decannulation. Survival was 73%, 50%, and 64% for those repaired early, late, or post-decannulation, respectively. Despite significantly worse prenatal factors, patients repaired early on ECMO had a similar survival. When comparing patients repaired on ECMO, the early group patients were decannulated 6 days earlier (p-value = 0.009) and had significantly lower circuit complications (p = 0.03).


      In conclusion, early repair on ECMO was associated with decreased ECMO duration, decreased circuit complications, and a trend towards improved survival.

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