We compared the morbidity of patients with meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) with that in patients with all other respiratory conditions treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) (no MAS). If ECMO for MAS was associated with a lower complication rate, then relaxed ECMO entry criteria could be considered. A retrospective review was performed of all patients in the national extracorporeal life support (ELSO) registry from 1989 to 2004. Complications were divided into mechanical, hematologic, neurologic, renal, pulmonary, cardiovascular, infectious, and metabolic categories. MAS and no-MAS patients were divided into veno-venous (VV) or veno-arterial (VA) ECMO categories, based on mode of ECMO used, and number of complications per patient in each category was determined. Statistical significance was determined by Chi-square test. A total of 1587 patients (700 MAS, 887 no MAS) on VV ECMO and 2723 (572 MAS, 2151 no MAS) on VA ECMO were identified with a total of 2415 complications in MAS and 9550 in no-MAS patients. Overall, MAS patients had a significantly lower number of complications per patient in each category versus no-MAS patients. These results indicate that regardless of type of ECMO, there are fewer complications on ECMO in MAS versus no-MAS patients. These data support the consideration of relaxed ECMO entry criteria for MAS.
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