Comparison of Bivalirudin Versus Heparin for Maintenance Systemic Anticoagulation During Adult and Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

Troy G. Seelhammer, John K. Bohman, Phillip J. Schulte, Andrew C. Hanson, Devon O. Aganga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To provide a comparative analysis of conventional heparin-versus bivalirudin-based systemic anticoagulation in adult and pediatric patients supported on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. DESIGN: Retrospective chart review study of adult and pediatric patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation from January 1, 2014, to October 1, 2019. SETTING: A large, high-volume tertiary referral adult and pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation center. PATIENTS: Four hundred twenty-four individuals requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support and systemically anticoagulated with either unfractionated heparin (223 adult and 65 pediatric patients) or bivalirudin (110 adult and 24 pediatric patients) were included. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Digital data abstraction was used to retrospectively collect patient details. The majority of both groups were cannulated centrally (67%), and the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation type was predominantly venoarterial (84%). The adult bivalirudin group had a greater occurrence of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (12% vs 1%; p < 0.01) and was more likely to require postcardiotomy extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (36% vs 55%; p < 0.01). There were no statistical differences between the groups in regards to age, sex, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation initiation location. The main finding was a reduced mortality in the adult bivalirudin group (odds ratio, 0.39; p < 0.01), whereas no difference was noted in the pediatric group. A significant reduction in the composite transfusion requirement in the first 24 hours was noted in the pediatric bivaluridin group with an odds ratio of 0.28 (p = 0.02). Groups did not differ in regard to laboratories per day, anticoagulant dose adjustments, or ischemic complications. CONCLUSIONS: When compared with heparin-based systemic anticoagulation, bivalirudin demonstrated feasibility and safety as established by the absence of increases in identifiable adverse outcomes while manifesting substantial improvements in hospital mortality in adult patients. Further studies are necessary to corroborate these findings and further elucidate the role of bivalirudin during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1492
Number of pages12
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • anticoagulation
  • bivalirudin
  • direct thrombin inhibitors
  • extracorporeal
  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • heparin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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