New research in BioMed Central‘s open access journal Critical Care reports that continuous haemofiltration significantly reduces extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) duration in newborns.

Haemofiltration, the process of removing waste products from the blood by passing the it through extracorporeal filters, is known to improve fluid balance in children treated with ECMO.

The team of researchers at the[removed] Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital[/removed], The Netherlands, compared the time spent on ECMO, time until extubation after decannulation, mortality, and potential cost reduction in 15 patients with haemofiltration and 46 control patients. All patients showed similar severity of illness before ECMO. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia and meconium aspiration syndrome were the most frequent illnesses.

The authors found the time on ECMO significantly decreased in the haemofiltration group (98h as opposed to 126h). Additionally, the haemofiltration patients also needed fewer blood transfusions and had a significantly lower fluid balance per day.

No additional personnel costs are involved in utilizing this technique, given that the ECMO personnel easily run haemofiltration. The shorter stay in intensive care coupled with the need for fewer blood transfusions saves an estimated US $600 per patient.