Anticoagulation is important for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Heparin is widely used; however, in some cases, it is not suitable for patients. Bivalirudin has been recently proposed for ECMO patients, and there is no evidence regarding its effectiveness and safety.
We aimed to systematically review the effectiveness and safety of bivalirudin in ECMO patients.
Study design and methods
PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE were searched to find relevant research on the use of bivalirudin versus heparin for anticoagulation in ECMO patients. Outcomes included in-hospital mortality, ECMO duration, major bleeding events, thrombosis events and circuit intervention events. Types of studies included randomized control trials (RCTs), cohort studies, and case-control studies. Case reports, studies lacking comparison with heparin, and where patients transitioned between heparin and bivalirudin, were excluded. Publication bias was evaluated when the number of included studies was more than ten. Sensitivity analysis was performed to examine the stability of the results.
Ten articles were selected, and nine articles were included in the meta-analysis.
The results of the meta-analysis showed hospital mortality [OR = 0.65, 95%CI (0.44, 0.95), P = 0.03] and thrombosis events decreased (OR = 0.55, 95%CI [0.37, 0.83], P = 0.004) in bivalirudin group compared with heparin in adult patients. Major bleeding events (OR = 0.66, 95%CI [0.17, 2.55], P = 0.55), ECMO duration (MD = 18.92, 95%CI [−29.33, 67.17], P = 0.44) and circuit intervention events (OR = 1.67, 95%CI [0.54, 5.18], P = 0.37) in the bivalirudin group was not statistically significant compared with the heparin group.
Bivalirudin may provide survival benefits and reduce thrombosis in adult patients on ECMO compared with heparin. There is no difference in treating major bleeding events between bivalirudin and heparin group. However, because all included studies were retrospective observational studies, the evidence level of this systematic review is low and heterogeneity could not be avoided. More high-quality clinical studies are urgently needed to confirm these benefits.