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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Artificial Organs.

Volume 36, Issue 8, Pages 659-667, August 2012.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1594.2012.01496.x. Copyright © Wiley.


Percutaneous femoral venoarterial (VA) or jugular venovenous (VV) extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can result in delivery of hypoxic blood to the brain, coronaries, and upper extremities. Additionally, VA-ECMO by percutaneous femoral artery cannulation may compromise perfusion to the lower limbs. Use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) detects regional ischemia and warns of impending hypoxic damage. We report the first known series with standardized monitoring of this parameter in adults on ECMO. This is an institutional review board-approved single institution retrospective review of patients with NIRS monitoring on ECMO from July 2010 until June 2011. Patients were analyzed for drops in NIRS tracings below 40 or >25% from baseline. VA-ECMO and VV-ECMO were initiated by percutaneous cannulation of the femoral vessels and the internal jugular vein, respectively. Sensors were placed on the patients' foreheads and on the lower limbs. NIRS tracings were recorded, analyzed, and correlated with clinical events. Twenty patients were analyzed (median age: 47.5 years): 17 patients were placed on VA-ECMO, and three patients on VV-ECMO. The median duration on ECMO was 7 days (range 2-26). One hundred percent of patients had a significant drop in bilateral cerebral oximetry tracings resulting in hemodynamic interventions, which involved increasing pressure, oxygenation, and/or ECMO flow. In 16 patients (80%), these interventions corrected the underlying ischemia. Four patients (20%) required further diagnostic intervention for persistent decreased bilateral and/or unilateral cerebral oximetry tracings, and were found to have a cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Six (30%) patients had persistent unilateral lower limb oximetry events, which resolved upon placement or replacement of a distal perfusion cannula. No patient was found to have either lower limb ischemia or a CVA with normal NIRS tracings. Use of NIRS with ECMO is important in detecting ischemic cerebral and peripheral vascular events. This allows for potential correction of the underlying process, thus preventing permanent ischemic damage.

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