Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Cardiac Indications in Children

Ravi R. Thiagarajan, MBBS, MPH


Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2016;17(S1):S155-S159. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Objectives: The objectives of this review are to discuss the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation following surgery for congenital heart disease, myocarditis and as a bridge to cardiac transplantation. In addition, the latest in circuit equipment, the management of anticoagulation and blood transfusions, and short- and long-term outcomes are reviewed.

Data Source: MEDLINE, PubMed.

Conclusions: The use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to support children with heart disease is increasing. There is wide variability in the use and management of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation between centers. Many areas of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation management warrant additional research to inform clinical practice and improve patient outcomes, including the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in patients undergoing single ventricle palliation, optimizing strategies for monitoring and titrating anticoagulation therapies, and efforts directed at minimizing the risk of neurologic injury.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is commonly used to support cardiopulmonary failure unresponsive to conventional therapies. Many institutions performing surgery for congenital heart disease use ECMO as rescue support for postoperative refractory low cardiac output syndrome and cardiac arrest. The use of ECMO for support of children with heart disease is increasing.[1] This article highlights selected recent publications on ECMO use and management.