Nutritional Support in Postcardiotomy Shock Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Patients: A Prospective, Observational Study

Megan F. Hunt, Alejandro Suarez Pierre, Xun Zhou, Cecillia Lui, Brian D. Lo, Patricia M. Brown, Glenn J. Whitman, Chun W. Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the 6000 patients treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) annually, there is a paucity of data regarding the nutritional management of these patients. Materials and methods: We performed a prospective, observational study of nutrition in postcardiotomy shock patients at our institution. Over a 3.5-year study period, we identified 50 ECMO patients and 225 non-ECMO patients. We identified type, amount, duration, and disruption of nutritional delivery by cohort. The primary outcome was percent of caloric goal met, and secondary outcome was gastrointestinal complications. Results: ECMO patients met less of their caloric (29% versus 40%, P = 0.017) and protein goals (34% versus 55%, P < 0.001) compared with non-ECMO patients. Tube feeds were administered more slowly (26 versus 37 mL/h, P < 0.001) and held for longer (8.3 versus 4.5 h/d, P < 0.001) in ECMO patients because of procedures (60%) and high-dose pressors (20% versus 7%, P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that ECMO decreased caloric intake by 14%, with no detected increased risk of gastrointestinal complications. Conclusions: –ECMO patients received significantly less nutrition support compared with a non-ECMO population. Tube feed hold deficits could potentially be avoided by utilizing postpyloric tubes to feed through procedures, by eliminating holds for vasopressors/inotropes in hemodynamically stable patients, or by establishing volume-based feeding protocols. Further clinical studies are needed to establish efficacy of these interventions and to understand the impact of nutrition on outcomes in ECMO patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Critical care
  • ECMO
  • Enteral nutrition
  • Postcardiotomy shock
  • VIS score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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