Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, commonly referred to as ECMO, is a technique that has been widely used to treat children with heart and lung issues, but over time has been gradually adapted to treat adults with similar conditions.
Primarily, ECMO is used when a person’s body is unable to properly oxygenate or disperse oxygenated blood to the heart and the body’s tissues. Through large bore catheters (tubes) that are inserted into the arm or leg, ECMO draws blood out of the heart with a specialized pump and saturates it with oxygen. The blood is then directed back into the body.
Typically only used when a condition has a low survival rate. ECMO can substantially improve outcomes, depending on the condition.
In adults, ECMO is used for:
- Cardiac Failure
- Heart transplant
- Lung transplant
- Pulmonary failure
- Severe infection
- Ventricular assist device implant