AIM--To report the collaborative experience of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis between April 1989 and January 1995. METHODS--The medical records of patients with confirmed RSV bronchiolitis referred to three centres (Leicester, Glasgow, and Great Ormond Street) were reviewed. RESULTS--Twenty four infants were identified. Seventeen had been born prematurely (gestational range 23-40 weeks, median 30 weeks). Thirteen infants had been mechanically ventilated after birth and seven of these had evidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). The age of onset of RSV infection varied from three to 64 weeks (mean 17.4 weeks, median 12 weeks). Ventilation before ECMO ranged from one to 16 days and oxygenation indices at the time of referral ranged from 21-73 (mean 39). Ribavirin was used in eight of the 24 patients. Sixteen patients received venoarterial and eight veno-venous ECMO. ECMO hours ranged from 32-647 (median 196 hours). One infant died (survival rate 96%). Cranial ultrasound abnormalities were detected in three patients. However, at follow up only one of the 23 survivors had evidence of developmental delay. CONCLUSION--A group of paediatric patients in whom ECMO can be of benefit has been identified. The use of ECMO should be considered when other means of support prove unsuccessful.
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