Ultrafiltration in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Review

World J Pediatr Congenit Heart Surg. 2019 Nov;10(6):778-788

Ultrafiltration has some essential benefit as it is ubiquitously used at pediatric heart centers; however, the optimal protocol could be yet identified.

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The use of cardiopulmonary bypass in pediatric cardiac surgery is associated with significant inflammation, fluid overload, and end-organ dysfunction yielding morbidity and mortality. For decades, various intraoperative ultrafiltration techniques such as conventional ultrafiltration, modified ultrafiltration (MUF), zero-balance ultrafiltration (ZBUF), and combination techniques (ZBUF-MUF) have been used to mitigate these toxicities and promote improved postoperative outcomes. However, there is currently no consensus on the ultrafiltration technique or strategy that yields the most benefit for infants and children undergoing open heart surgery.

A librarian-conducted PubMed literature search from 1990 to 2018 yielded 90 clinical studies or publications on the various forms of ultrafiltration and the impact on physiologic markers and clinical outcomes. All publications were reviewed, summarized, and conclusions synthesized. The data sets were not combined for systematic or meta-analysis due to significant heterogeneity in study protocols and patient populations.

Modified ultrafiltration significantly promotes improved myocardial function, reduction in fluid overload, and reduced bleeding and transfusion complications. Furthermore, ZBUF has shown a consistent reduction in inflammatory cytokines and improved pulmonary function and compliance. There is conflicting evidence that MUF, ZBUF, and ZBUF-MUF culminate in reduced ventilation time and intensive care unit stay.

Various modes of ultrafiltration have been shown to be associated with improved physiologic function or clinical outcomes in pediatric cardiac surgery. There are some inconsistent trial results that can be explained by heterogeneity in ultrafiltration, clinical staff preferences, and institution protocols. Ultrafiltration has some essential benefit as it is ubiquitously used at pediatric heart centers; however, the optimal protocol could be yet identified.