INTRODUCTION: Neonatal and pediatric ECMO is a high-risk procedure that should be performed only in expert centers. Children who are eligible for ECMO and are managed in hospitals without ECMO capabilities should be referred to the closest ECMO center before the severity of illness precludes safe conventional transport. When the clinical situation precludes safe conventional transport, ECMO should be provided on site with the patient transported on ECMO.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed our institutional database of all ECMO transports for neonatal and pediatric respiratory failure from February 2013 to February 2018.
RESULTS: Over the last 5 years, we provided 24 transports covering all requests from the center and south of Italy except for the islands. Of these transports, 20 were performed on ECMO and 4 without ECMO. No patient died during transportation. Five complications were reported only during the ECMO transports, and all of these were managed without compromising the patient's safety. The preferred modes of transport were by ambulance (70%) and ambulance transported into the fixed wing aircraft (30%) for longer national distances. The survival to hospital discharge of the patients transported with ECMO was 75% among the neonatal transports and 83.3% among the pediatric transports. The survival to hospital discharge of the four patients transported without ECMO was 100% for both neonates and children.
CONCLUSIONS: Neonatal and pediatric ECMO transports can be safely performed with a dedicated team that maintains stringent adherence to well-designed management protocols.
- Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation/methods
- Infant, Newborn
- Time Factors
- Transportation of Patients/methods