Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation causing asymmetric vasculopathy in neonatal infants.

PubMed ID: 10532770

Author(s): Young TL, Quinn GE, Baumgart S, Petersen RA, Schaffer DB. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation causing asymmetric vasculopathy in neonatal infants. J AAPOS. 1997 Dec;1(4):235-40. PMID 10532770

Journal: Journal Of Aapos : The Official Publication Of The American Association For Pediatric Ophthalmology And Strabismus, Volume 1, Issue 4, Dec 1997

BACKGROUND Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a form of cardiopulmonary bypass therapy used in term or near-term infants with severe cardiorespiratory disorders not responsive to conventional intensive care interventions. An ECMO-associated retinal vasculopathy has been described with little reference to the specific condition of the patient. We examined the eyes of 91 infants who underwent ECMO treatment. An assessment was made of the following: (1) when retinal changes occurred, (2) whether there was a particular systemic disorder or ECMO approach associated with these retinal findings, and (3) whether there may be ocular sequelae from this development.

METHODS Ninety-one neonates were treated with ECMO for meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), primary persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, sepsis, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), and blood aspiration. Venoarterial bypass was performed in 73 patients. The remaining 18 patients underwent venovenous bypass. Ophthalmologic examinations were performed during bypass in 6 infants and within 3 weeks of ECMO in the remainder.

RESULTS Asymmetric retinopathy (left eye > right eye) was discovered in six infants with CDH and in one infant with RDS within a 2-week period after bypass, demonstrating venous tortuosity with or without intraretinal hemorrhages. One infant treated for MAS had a left eye intraretinal hemorrhage only. All patients with the noted retinal changes underwent venoarterial cannulation. Six of 9 patients with CDH had retinal findings noted compared with 1 of 10 patients with RDS and 1 of 35 patients with MAS.

CONCLUSION Because we were able to examine infants while they were receiving ECMO or shortly after termination of bypass, asymmetric vasculopathy was found in a greater percentage of our patients compared with a similar large case series. ECMO-associated retinal vasculopathy appeared to disproportionately occur in those patients with CDH who underwent venoarterial bypass. Further study of retinal vascular changes in patients with CDH should be performed to assess long-term effects.