Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) remains a promising treatment for pediatric patients in cardiac arrest unresponsive to traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation. With venoarterial extracorporeal support, blood is drained from the right atrium, oxygenated through the extracorporeal circuit, and transfused back to the body, bypassing the heart and lungs. The use of artificial oxygenation and perfusion thus provides the body a period of hemodynamic stability, while allowing resolution of underlying disease processes. Survival rates for ECPR patients are higher than those for traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), although neurological outcomes require further investigation. The impact of duration of CPR and length of treatment with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation vary in published reports. Furthermore, current guidelines for the initiation and use of ECPR are limited and may lead to confusion about appropriate use of this support. Many ethical concerns arise with this advanced form of life support. More often than not, the dilemma is not whether to withhold ECPR, but rather when to withdraw it. Although clinicians must decide if ECPR is appropriate and when further intervention is futile, the ultimate burden of choice is left to the patient’s caregivers. Offering support and guidance to the patient’s family as well as the patient is essential.

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