BACKGROUND: Infections represent a severe complication of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Aim of the present study was to describe the epidemiology of infections acquired during ECMO in a tertiary care children's hospital.METHODS: Retrospective analysis of clinical records of patients undergoing ECMO between January 2009 and December 2016. For each patient, data were collected on clinical characteristics, modality of ECMO support, site and etiology of documented infections, survival within 1 week after ECMO weaning and/or at pediatric intensive care unit discharge. These data were employed to evaluate overall infection prevalence, infection rate expressed as episodes/1000 days of support and cumulative risk estimates of infections occurring during ECMO.RESULTS: During the study period, a total of 46 ECMO procedures were performed. The overall prevalence of documented infections was 33%, with an infection rate of 27.22 and a cumulative risk of 55%. Bloodstream infection represented the most frequently documented (53%), followed by pneumonia (40%). Coagulase-negative staphylococci and Pseudomonas aeruginosa prevailed as isolated pathogens. Overall survival was 59%, and 46% among those developing infections during ECMO.CONCLUSIONS: ECMO is a procedure at high risk for infections. Our data, limited to 1 center, represent a recent benchmark for further investigations.