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The incidence of bloodstream infection (BSI) in extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is reported between 0.9 and 19.5%. In January 2006, the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) reported an overall incidence of 8.78% distributed as follows: respiratory: 6.5% (neonatal), 20.8% (pediatric); cardiac: 8.2% (neonatal) and 12.6% (pediatric).At BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) daily surveillance blood cultures (BC) are performed and antibiotic prophylaxis is not routinely recommended. Positive BC (BC+) were reviewed, including resistance profiles, collection time of BC+, time to positivity and mortality. White blood cell count, absolute neutrophile count, immature/total ratio, platelet count, fibrinogen and lactate were analyzed 48, 24 and 0 h prior to BSI. A univariate linear regression analysis was performed.From 1999 to 2005, 89 patients underwent ECLS. After exclusion, 84 patients were reviewed. The attack rate was 22.6% (19 BSI) and 13.1% after exclusion of coagulase-negative staphylococci (n = 8). BSI patients were significantly longer on ECLS (157 h) compared to the no-BSI group (127 h, 95% CI: 106-148). Six BSI patients died on ECLS (35%; 4 congenital diaphragmatic hernias, 1 hypoplastic left heart syndrome and 1 after a tetralogy repair). BCCH survival on ECLS was 71 and 58% at discharge, which is comparable to previous reports. No patient died primarily because of BSI. No BSI predictor was identified, although lactate may show a decreasing trend before BSI (P = 0.102).Compared with ELSO, the studied BSI incidence was higher with a comparable mortality. We speculate that our BSI rate is explained by underreporting of "contaminants" in the literature, the use of broad-spectrum antibiotic prophylaxis and a higher yield with daily monitoring BC. We support daily surveillance blood cultures as an alternative to antibiotic prophylaxis in the management of patients on ECLS.

Original publication




Journal article


Pediatric surgery international

Publication Date





169 - 173


Division of Neonatal Intensive Care, Department of Pediatrics, The British Columbia Children’s Hospital, 1R47-4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, V6H 3V4, Canada.


Blood, Humans, Extracorporeal Circulation, Microbiological Techniques, Retrospective Studies, Predictive Value of Tests, Adolescent, Child, Preschool, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Female, Male, Biomarkers