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High frequency oscillatory ventilation and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in severe persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn

Varnholt, V.; Lasch, P.; Suske, G.; Kachel, W.; Brands, W.

European Journal of Pediatrics 151(10): 769-774

1992


ISSN/ISBN: 0340-6199
PMID: 1425801
DOI: 10.1007/bf01959088
Accession: 008771323

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We report on 50 term and near-term neonates (birth weight gt 1800 g, gestational age gt 33 weeks) with severe persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), referred to us from January 1987 to July 1991 after failure of maximum conventional treatment. All infants had paO-2 lt 45 mmHg when ventilated with peak inspiratory pressure gt 38 cm H-2O and FiO-2 = 1.0, hence meeting entry criteria for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). High frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) was tried in all patients. If sufficient oxygenation could not be achieved (paO-2 lt 40 mmHg for at least 2 h), ECMO therapy was begun, which was the case in 25 children. Neonates responding to HFOV (n = 25) were of a slightly younger gestational age (37.0 weeks vs 38.8 weeks, P lt 0.05), had higher Apgar scores and were less hypoxaemic before HFOV (paO-2 36.6 mmHg vs 28.8 mmHg, P lt 0.01); during HFOV there was a significant rise in paO-2 ( gt 150 mmHg; P lt 0.001) and a fall in pCO-2 to 21.6 mmHg (P lt 0.001). Due to air leaks, which was the main complication of HFOV (52%), ECMO therapy had to be begun in two additional infants after an initial positive effect. HFOV tended to be successful in cases of primary PPHN, meconium aspiration and sepsis, but not in infants with lung hypoplasia as a result of diaphragmatic hernia or other reasons. Success or failure of HFOV could not be reliably predicted by any parameter. Mean duration of HFOV was 37.8 h vs 84.9 h of ECMO. PPHN could be overcome in 88% of the HFOV-treated and in 76% of the ECMO-treated infants; overall survival rate was 74% (predicted probability of survival using maximum conventional treatment lt 10%). There were no significant differences between HFOV/ECMO groups with regard to duration of ventilation following HFOV/ECMO, total time in hospital, rate of bronchopulmonary dysplasia and neurological complications (intracranial haemorrhage, brain infarction). Among the survivors, the rate of mentally handicapped children was equal in both groups (overall 18.9%). Our analysis shows that about 50% of neonates with PPHN who fail to respond to conventional ventilatory support and maximum treatment can be treated successfully with HFOV, thus avoiding ECMO. By applying both forms of therapy, the survival rate of infants with severe PPHN can be increased from an estimated rate of lt 10% up to 80%.

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