Author(s): Karle VA, Short BL, Martin GR, Bulas DI, Getson PR,
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: To determine the exposure to, and evaluate the potential toxicity from, the plasticizer, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy. DESIGN: Protocol 1 consisted of a prospective comparison of three ECMO circuit designs in vitro. Protocol 2 consisted of a prospective, comparative clinical study evaluating DEHP plasma concentrations in ECMO vs. non-ECMO patients with respiratory failure. SETTING: Neonatal intensive care unit at The Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC. PATIENTS: In protocol 2, 28 consecutive term infants were referred for ECMO therapy. Eighteen infants required ECMO; ten control patients received conventional ventilation and improved without ECMO. INTERVENTIONS: In protocol 1, three ECMO circuit designs were primed in vitro with normal saline, albumin, and human blood, which was maintained at 37 degrees C and recirculated at 400 mL/min for 48 hrs. Plasma samples were obtained at time 0, 1 hr, and every 6 hrs. In protocol 2, ventilatory and cardiovascular management of the patients in the study was conducted by the attending physician. Patients were placed on ECMO when they met the institutional criteria for ECMO therapy. Daily plasma concentrations for DEHP were collected until 3 days after decannulation from bypass in the ECMO group. Control patients were sampled daily until extubation. Evidence of cardiac, liver, or lung toxicity was evaluated by Chest Radiographic Scores, liver function studies, and echocardiograms obtained on day 1, day 3, and the day of decannulation in the ECMO group, or at the time of extubation in the control group. Sedation, blood product transfusions as indicated, antibiotics, and hyperalimentation were administered to all patients. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: All DEHP plasma concentrations were measured by gas chromatography. In protocol 1, three circuits were studied: circuit A (small surface area); circuit B (larger surface area); and circuit C (surface area of A but with heparin-bonded tubing in the circuit). DEHP leached from circuit A at 0.32 +/- 0.12 microgram/ mL/hr, compared with 0.57 +/- 0.14 microgram/mL/hr from circuit B (p < .05). This amount of DEHP extrapolates in the ECMO patient to a potential exposure of 20 to 70 times that exposure from other medical devices or procedures, such as transfusions, dialysis, or short-term cardiopulmonary bypass. Circuit C showed almost no leaching from the circuit; DEHP concentrations decreased at a rate of 0.2 +/- 0.04 microgram/mL/ hr. In protocol 2, DEHP was undetected in the control patients. DEHP concentrations in ECMO patients were greater in the early course of ECMO. However, most patients cleared this compound from the plasma before decannulation. In contrast to the in vitro results in protocol 1, the average highest concentration at any time on bypass was 8.3 +/- 5.7 micrograms/mL or 2 mg/kg. CONCLUSIONS: DEHP leaches from ECMO circuits, with potential exposure concentrations related to the surface area of the tubing in the ECMO circuit. Heparin bonding of the tubing eliminates this risk. Although significant concentrations of DEHP leach from the nonheparin-bonded circuits over time, our in vivo studies showed that the DEHP plasma concentrations were less than the previously reported values and do not correlate with any observable short-term toxicity. This compound may be either efficiently metabolized by the newborn, or redistributed into various tissues. Although signs of toxicity were not found in this study, long-term complications from chronic exposure to DEHP have not been determined.
This article was published in Crit Care Med
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Toxicology