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Papers of the Week

2023 Feb 01


A pilot study to evaluate clinical factors associated with iron and ferritin elevations during pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.


Sam AE, Weber Z, Peña A, Henderson C, King JM, Carr NR
Perfusion. 2023 Feb 01:2676591231154750.
PMID: 36725017.


Elevations in serum ferritin and serum iron occur during pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Previous reports attribute the elevation to frequent red blood cell transfusions and/or hemolysis. Chronic transfusion can cause iron deposition in tissues leading to multisystem organ dysfunction. This study aims identify clinical factors associated with elevated ferritin and iron in pediatric ECMO patients, along with post-decannulation magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assessment of iron deposition in liver and brain. Prospective, pilot study, using descriptive statistics to investigate potential associations between patient characteristics, serum ferritin and iron levels, and post-decannulation hepatic and basal ganglia iron deposition. In this study, nine patients (100%) had elevated serum ferritin levels during ECMO. High ferritin levels were more common with veno-arterial than with veno-venous cannulation ( = 0.026) and were also associated with high plasma free hemoglobin levels ( < 0.001). Five patients presented with elevated serum iron levels. High serum iron levels were associated with higher daily ( = 0.016) and cumulative transfusion volumes ( = 0.013) as well ECMO duration beyond 7 days. MRI scans were performed on three patients with no evidence of abnormal iron deposition detected in the liver or brain. This pilot study shows that during pediatric ECMO, elevations in serum ferritin and serum iron occur and those elevations may be related to the cannulation modality, ECMO duration, amount of hemolysis, and volume of red blood cell transfusions. Further investigation is warranted to fully understand the implications of elevated serum iron and ferritin in pediatric ECMO.