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Perfusion NewswireBlood ManagementAnticoagulation and Transfusion Management During Neonatal and Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: A Survey of Medical Directors in the United States

Anticoagulation and Transfusion Management During Neonatal and Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: A Survey of Medical Directors in the United States


To compare current practices within the United States of anticoagulation management and blood transfusion in neonatal and pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patients with a 2013 international report.


Cross-sectional survey distributed between August and December 2019.


Extracorporeal Life Support Organization–registered neonatal and pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation centers in the United States.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation medical directors.



Measurements and Main Results

Eighty-three medical directors at 108 centers responded. After removing four duplicate responses, 79 surveys were analyzed. Seventy-nine percent (n = 62) report a written extracorporeal membrane oxygenation protocol for both anticoagulation and blood product management. Ninety-four percent (n = 74) report unfractionated heparin as their primary anticoagulant; the remaining use the direct thrombin inhibitor, bivalirudin. Ninety percent (n = 71) report measuring antifactor Xa levels. Most centers report using a combination of assays to monitor heparin therapy, either antifactor Xa and activated partial thromboplastin time (54%) or more commonly antifactor Xa and activated clotting time (68%). Forty-one percent use viscoelastic tests to aid management. Goal monitoring levels and interventions generated by out of range values are variable. Fifty-one percent will replace antithrombin. Platelet transfusion thresholds vary by age and center with ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 cells/µL. Eighty-two percent of respondents are willing to participate in a randomized controlled trial comparing anticoagulation strategies for patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.


Compared with the 2013 pediatric population, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation center anticoagulation and blood transfusion approaches continue to vary widely. Most report continued use of heparin as their primary anticoagulant and follow a combination of monitoring assays with the majority using the antifactor Xa assay in their practices, a significant shift from prior results. Antithrombin activity levels and viscoelastic tests are followed by a growing number of centers. Platelet transfusion thresholds continue to vary widely. Future research is needed to establish optimal anticoagulation and blood transfusion management.

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