Introduction: Veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) is a cardio-pulmonary bypass technique to provide life support in acute reversible cardio-respiratory failure when conventional management is not successful. Most neonates receiving ECMO suffer from meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), sepsis or persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPH). In five-year-old children who underwent VA-ECMO therapy as neonates, we assessed motor performance related to growth, intelligence and behaviour, and the association with the primary diagnosis. Methods: In a prospective population-based study (n = 224) 174 five-year-old survivors born between 1993 and 2000 and treated in the two designated ECMO centres in the Netherlands (Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen and Sophia Children's Hospital, Erasmus MC - University Medical Center Rotterdam) were invited to undergo follow-up assessment including a paediatric assessment, the movement assessment battery for children (MABC), the revised Amsterdam intelligence test (RAKIT) and the child behaviour checklist (CBCL). Results: Twenty-two percent of the children died before the age of five, 86% (n = 149) of the survivors were assessed. Normal development in all domains was found in 49% of children. Severe disabilities were present in 13%, and another 9% had impaired motor development combined with cognitive and/or behavioural problems. Chi-squared tests showed adverse outcome in MABC scores (P < 0.001) compared with the reference population in children with CDH, sepsis and PPH, but not in children with MAS. Compared with the Dutch population height, body mass index (BMI) and weight for height were lower in the CDH group (P < 0.001). RAKIT and CBCL scores did not differ from the reference population. Total MABC scores, socio-economic status, growth and CBCL scores were not related to each other, but negative motor outcome was related to lower intelligence quotient (IQ) scores (r = 0.48, P < 0.001). Conclusions: The ECMO population is highly at risk for developmental problems, most prominently in the motor domain. Adverse outcome differs between the primary diagnosis groups. Objective evaluation of long-term developmental problems associated with this highly invasive technology is necessary to determine best evidence-based practice. The ideal follow-up programme requires an interdisciplinary team, the use of normal-referenced tests and an international consensus on timing and actual outcome measurements.

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Critical Care
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Nijhuis-van der Sanden, M., van der Cammen-van Zijp, M., Janssen, A., Reuser, J., Mazer, P., van Heijst, A., … Kollee, L. A. (2009). Motor performance in five-year-old extracorporeal membrane oxygenation survivors: A population-based study. Critical Care, 13(2). doi:10.1186/cc7770