How low can you go? Effectiveness and safety of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in low-birth-weight neonates

Andrew J. Rozmiarek, Faisal G. Qureshi, Laura Cassidy, Henri R. Ford, Barbara A. Gaines, Peter Rycus, David J. Hackam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose Controversy exists regarding the criteria for placement of infants on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) at low birth weights. The authors hypothesized that ECMO is effective and safe in babies under 2 kg and sought to examine outcome and survival rate in these infants. Methods All patients less than 30 days old in the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) registry (n = 14,305) were divided into those less than 2 kg (n = 663) and more than 2 kg (n = 13,642). Multiple regression analysis determined factors that predicted survival rate and the lowest safe weight for ECMO. Results Overall survival rate was 76% and was lower in infants less than 2 kg (≥2 kg, 77% v <2 kg, 53%, P < .0001). Survival rate was significantly lower for patients with diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), bleeding, and intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) by regression. The incidence of ICH in babies less than 2.0 kg was 6% versus 4% in those more than 2.0 kg (P < .05). Regression analysis determined that the lowest weight at which a survival rate of 40% could be achieved was 1.6 kg. Conclusions Cannulation for ECMO may be safe and effective in babies under 2.0 kg and potentially as low as 1.6 kg. Judicious anticoagulation might limit bleeding, which occurred in a minority of these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-847
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • prematurity
  • respiratory failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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