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Home Milrinone in Pediatric Hospice Care of Children with Heart Failure

      Abstract

      Context

      The symptom profile of children dying from cardiac disease, especially heart failure, differs from those with cancer and other non-cardiac conditions. Treatment with vasoactive infusions at home may be a superior therapy for symptom control for these patients, rather than traditional pain and anxiety management with morphine and benzodiazepines.

      Objectives

      We report our experience using outpatient milrinone in children receiving hospice care for end-stage heart failure.

      Methods

      Retrospective review of a contemporary cohort of all patients at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford who were discharged on intravenous milrinone and hospice care between 2008 and 2021. Clinical data, including cardiac diagnosis, milrinone dose and route of administration, total milrinone days, symptoms reported, rehospitalization rates, concurrent therapies and complications were analyzed.

      Results

      Among 8 patients, median duration of home milrinone infusion was 191 (33, 572) days with the longest support duration 1,054 days. All (100%) patients were also receiving diuretics at the time of death. Five (63%) were receiving no other pain control medications until the active phase of dying. From milrinone initiation to last outpatient assessment, a reduction in the number of patients reporting respiratory discomfort, abdominal pain, weight loss/lack of appetite, and fatigue was observed. Six (75%) died at home.

      Conclusion

      We used milrinone with oral diuretics effectively for symptom control in children with heart failure on palliative care. Our experience was that this combination can be used safely in the outpatient setting for long-term use without the addition of opiates, benzodiazepines, or supplemental oxygen in most cases.

      Key Words

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