Twenty percent of pediatric patients with BA develop ACLF with increased mortality while awaiting LT. Respiratory complications are common in pediatric ACLF and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. ARDS is the most severe manifestation of acute respiratory failure with considerable risk of mortality.
A 5-month-old girl with post-Kasai BA preoperatively experienced ARDS from RSV infection while awaiting LT. She developed decompensated liver failure with shock, acute kidney injury, coagulopathy, and pulmonary hemorrhage after several episodes of sepsis over the course of 1 month in the PICU. At this stage, RSV was not detected in the patient’s tracheal aspirate by real-time polymerase chain reaction. She underwent living donor LT to manage her pre-existing critical state. Following reperfusion during LT, her pre-existing ARDS rapidly deteriorated, which was alleviated by intraoperative VV ECMO.
Severe respiratory acidosis improved rapidly following ECMO, and LT was completed uneventfully. The patient was successfully weaned off ECMO on POD 3.
This is the first pediatric case rescued by the intraoperative application of ECMO during LT. Our case and cumulative evidence suggest that VV ECMO can serve as rescue therapy for perioperative refractory respiratory failure in pediatric LT.