Objective. To characterize the population and survival of neonatal and pediatric patients transported by Wilford Hall Medical Center (WHMC) on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) since 1985.
Study Design. A retrospective chart, literature, and database review of pediatric and neonatal patients transported on ECMO by the WHMC ECMO transport team. In addition, a subpopulation analysis was performed comparing neonates with meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) placed on ECMO at WHMC with those infants with MAS transported on ECMO. Characteristics of interest for this comparison included disease severity before ECMO, age at initiation of ECMO, survival, ECMO-related complications, and duration of ECMO support.
Results. Forty-two patients transported on ECMO were identified: 23 neonatal respiratory cases (survival 57%), 7 pediatric respiratory cases (survival 71%), 4 cardiac cases (survival 50%), and 8 extra-institutional ECMO transports (survival 63%). In the MAS subpopulation, there was significantly greater survival in the in-house group—97% (31/32)—than in the ECMO transport group—75% (9/12); there were no other significant differences between these groups. Overall, no ECMO-related complications leading to patient demise could be identified in the ECMO transport group.
Conclusions. ECMO transport, although demonstrating acceptable survival, is a risk-laden modality that should not replace early referral to an ECMO center.