Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
About Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
ECMO, which stands for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, is a procedure during which blood oxygenation and cardiac function are performed by a mechanical pump outside the body.
ECMO is similar to heart-lung bypass machines used during open-heart surgery. It works by removing blood from the patient and pumping that blood through an artificial lung called a membrane oxygenator. The oxygenator takes over some of the work of the lungs, by exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the pump takes over some of the work of the heart. The blood is then pumped through a heat exchanger, where it is warmed and returned to the patient. The pressure and flow created by the mechanical pump help circulate blood in the body, thus supporting cardiac function.
ECMO is not a treatment or cure for a heart or lung disease, rather it substitutes for the work of the heart and lungs, thus allowing them to "rest" until time or additional procedures assist in reversing the problem that is causing reliance on ECMO.