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Management of upper aerodigestive tract bleeding on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Author(s): Meredith A. Harrison | Adam L. Baker | Sudeep Roy | Hitoshi Hirose | Nicholas C. Cavarocchi

Journal: Mechanical Circulatory Support
ISSN 2000-6993

Volume: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: ECMO | upper aerodigestive tract | bleeding | anticoagulation | management

Introduction: Bleeding complications are often encountered on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). In a review of our own series, it was found that upper aero digestive tract bleeding was common and that its management was often difficult. We propose an algorithm to help manage upper aerodigestive tract bleeding in the anticoagulated, ECMO patient. Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed of the patients who underwent veno-venous or veno-arterial ECMO at our institution between July 2010 and July 2012. The patients that had upper aerodigestive tract bleeding that required an otolaryngology consultation were identified. They were further investigated to determine the location of bleed, and procedures were performed to control the bleeding. Results: Among the 37 consecutive patients on ECMO, 11 (30%) had upper aerodigestive tract bleeding events. Of these 11, 7 (63.6%) were secondary to an iatrogenic incident, such as placing a nasogastric tube or transesophageal echo probe. All 11 patients were treated at bedside with conservative management and 3 were treated in the operating room. Four patients (36%) treated with conservative management required repeated procedures due to incomplete hemostasis, compared to no repeated procedure required once surgical intervention in the operating room was complete. Conclusion: Approximately one-third of the ECMO patients developed upper aerodigestive tract bleeding. This bleeding should be controlled in a timely manner; otherwise it may result in massive transfusions. Delaying intervention or conservative management may not be effective. We recommend surgical intervention, if the initial conservative management failed and continued to bleed for more than 24–36 hours.

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