Does extracorporeal membrane oxygenation benefit neonates with congenital diaphragmatic hernia? Application of a predictive equation

Tamir H. Keshen, Mustafa Gursoy, Stephen B. Shew, E. O Brian Smith, Ronna G. Miller, Mary E. Wearden, Alicia A. Moise, Tom Jaksic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The overall survival of neonates with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) remains poor despite the advent of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Attempts at accurately predicting survival have been largely unsuccessful. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to identify independent predictors of survival from a cohort of CDH neonates treated at the authors' institution when ECMO was not available and combine them to form a predictive equation, and (2) to apply the equation prospectively in a cohort of CDH neonates, treated at the same institution when ECMO was available, to determine whether ECMO improves outcome. From the clinical data of 62 CDH neonates treated at the authors' center by the same team of university neonatologists and pediatric surgeons between 1983 and 1993 (before ECMO availability), 15 preoperative and seven operative variables were selected as potential independent predictors. When subjected to multivariate, stepwise logistic regression analysis, four variables were identified as statistically significant (P < .05), independent predictors of survival: (1) ventilatory index (VI), (2) best preoperative PaCO2, (3) birth weight (BW), and (4) Apgar score at 5 minutes. When combined via logistic regression analysis, the following predictive equation was formulated: P (probability of survival to discharge) = [1 +e(x)]-1 where x = 4.9 - 0.68 (Apgar) - 0.0032 (BW) + 0.0063 (VI) + 0.063 (PaCO2). Applying a standard cut-off rate of survival at less than 20%, the equation yielded a sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 82% in identifying the correct outcome of patients treated with conventional ventilatory management. The overall survival rate was 66%. Since the availability of ECMO at the center, 32 CDH neonates were treated using the same conventional ventilatory treatment and surgical repair by the same university staff. The overall survival rate was 69%. The predictive equation was applied prospectively to all neonates to determine predicted outcome, but was not used to decide the treatment method. Eighteen neonates received conventional therapy alone; 16 of 18 survived (89%). Fifteen of the 16 patients who survived had their outcomes predicted correctly (94%). Fourteen neonates did not respond to conventional therapy and required ECMO; 6 of 14 survived (43%). Six of the eight patients predicted to survive, lived (75%). All six patients predicted to die, died despite the addition of ECMO therapy (100%). The mean hospital cost per ECMO patient who died, was $277,264.75 ± $59,500.71 (SE). An odds ratio analysis, using the four independent predictors to standardize for degree of illness, was performed to assess the risk associated with adding ECMO therapy. The result was 1.25 (P = 0.75). Although the cohort was not large enough to eliminate significant β error, the data strongly suggested no advantage of ECMO. At this center, absolute survival rates for neonates with CDH have not been significantly altered since ECMO has become available (66% v 69%). The authors conclude that the predictive equation remains an accurate measurement of survival at their center even when ECMO is used as a salvage therapy. The method of creating a predictive equation may be applied at any institution to determine the potential outcome of CDH neonates and assess the effect of ECMO, or other salvage therapies, on survival rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-822
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Neonatal
  • Outcome
  • Predictive equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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