Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is temporary cardiopulmonary bypass used to support a patient with heart or lung failure. Cardiopulmonary bypass was developed to replace heart and lung function during open heart surgery. It was subsequently adapted for prolonged support and is performed and continued at patients' bedsides
Children with heart or lung failure who do not respond to conventional medical therapies may be candidates for ECMO support. The ECMO circuit drains blood from the body, exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide, warms the blood and pumps it back into the child's body. Placing the child on ECMO allows time for the heart and/or lungs to improve or to serve as a bridge to other long-term extracorporeal support or heart transplant.
ECMO is used in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or the Lefkofsky Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit. Faculty members from the divisions of Pediatric Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Neonatology and Critical Care work together to manage ECMO for these children.
Our ECPR (extracorporeal rapid response) team is available for a predetermined group of cardiac patients in the cardiac care unit. The goal of the strategy is to provide ECMO prior to/or at the time of a cardiac arrest in this at-risk population.