Hematological abnormalities in neonatal patients treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Douglas P. Zavadil, Alfred H. Stammers, Lynne D. Willett, Joseph J. Deptula, Kevin A. Christensen, R. Troy Sydzyik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The physical process of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) results in derangement of the hemostatic mechanism, which may lead to increased morbidity, secondary to the disease process. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the hematological status of neonates undergoing ECMO therapy, and to evaluate coagulation tests in predicting hemorrhagic risk. Following Institutional Review Board approval, 30 patients undergoing ECMO treatment were retrospectively entered into this study. Medical records were reviewed and indicators of hemostasis, transfusion, morbidity, and outcomes recorded. Assessment of coagulation was determined through serial analysis of platelet count, fibrinogen concentration, prothrombin time (PT), activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), antithrombin III, fibrin split products, D-dimers, plasma free hemoglobin, activated clotting time, ionized calcium, and thrombelastography (TEG). Median total transfusion requirements for all patients were 1.79 ml/kg/ECMO hr. Fifty-seven percent of the 30 patients were diagnosed as coagulopathic according to Extracorporeal Life Support Organization standards. Patients were separated into either a hemorrhagic group (HEM, >2.0 ml/kg/ECMO hr, n=13) or a nonhemorrhagic group (N-HEM, n=17), with HEM patients requiting twice the transfusion volume of N-HEM (p<0.0001). Hemorrhagic complications were reported in 53.8% of the HEM patients vs. 35.3% in the N-HEM group. HEM patients were transfused with significantly greater quantities of platelets on days 1,3,5, and 8 and packed red blood cells on day 7 when compared to N-HEM (p<0.05). TEG determination showed significant differences between groups on days 3 and 6 (p<0.005), and 8 (p<0.05). Derangements in hemostasis resulting from ECMO are profound, with methods of assessing coagulation complicated by both the variability in patient condition and lack of specificity of laboratory tests. Interpretation of TEG data has shown to be a valuable supplement for managing this challenging patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Extra-Corporeal Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
  • Respiratory failure
  • Thrombelastograph

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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