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Development of an artificial placenta I: pumpless arterio-venous extracorporeal life support in a neonatal sheep model.
PURPOSE: Effective treatment of respiratory failure in premature infants remains an unsolved problem. The development of an artificial placenta, in the form of a pumpless arteriovenous extracorporeal life support (AV-ECLS) circuit that maintains fetal circulation, is an appealing alternative.
METHODS: A near-term (140 d/term = 145 days) neonatal lamb model was used (n = 7). Fetuses were exposed by hysterotomy, and flow probes were placed on the ductus arteriosus, aorta, and carotid artery. Catheters were placed into the umbilical vessels, and pumpless AV-ECLS was initiated. Fetuses were submerged in a warm saline bath, and support was maintained for up to 4 hours.
RESULTS: Mean initial device flow was 383 mL/min but steadily declined to 177 mL/min at 4 hours. Mean initial pO(2) was 24 mm Hg and 18 mm Hg at 4 hours. Initial mean pCO(2) was 60 mm Hg and declined to 42 mm Hg at 4 hours. Mean arterial pressure was initially 43 mm Hg and decreased to 34 mm Hg at 4 hours. Flow in the ductus arteriosus was maintained for 4 hours. Of 7 fetuses, 5 survived 4 hours of support.
CONCLUSIONS: Pumpless AV-ECLS can support gas exchange and maintain fetal circulation in a neonatal lamb model for a 4-hour period. Prolonged support (>4 hours) is hampered by high cannula resistance and declining device flow.