Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)


ECMO refers to Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation which is a machine similar to the heart lung bypass machine used during heart bypass surgery. ECMO system functions similar to an artificial heart and lung located outside the body.

ECMO is a life saving technique that takes over the natural function of the heart and lungs for a short period of time (3-4 weeks) allowing the heart and /or lung to rest while healing of the affected organs takes place.

Expert Cardiac Surgeons use this technique in case of newborns, children and adults who are suffering with respiratory or cardiac failure because of birth defects, trauma or severe infection. ECMO is recommended  for children and adults who are not responding to the standard  treatment(as medicines and ventilator)  and having severe, lung and/or heart disease.

Patient  is under high  degree of observation throughout extracorporeal membrane oxygenation while on external artificial heart lung machine by Dr  Abhay Kumar  and  his  team . ECMO is a very useful and a life-saving technique that allows patient to rest while natural healing of the affected organs takes place by functioning similar to patient’s heart and lungs

ECMO – a technique of providing respiratory and cardiac support:

Blood is removed from the venous system either peripherally via cannulation of a femoral vein or centrally via cannulation of the right atrium:

  • Oxygenate
  • Extract carbon dioxide

Blood is then returned back to the body either peripherally via a femoral artery or centrally via the ascending aorta. This uses a centrifugal pump and oxygenator

Types of ECMO

  • Veno-Arterial (VA) ECMO -used  for heart  and/or lung disease.
  • Veno-Venous (VV) ECMO- used for only lung disease.

Indications for ECMO

Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) has defined the indications & and practice of ECMO. The criteria is acute severe cardiac or pulmonary failure which is reversible and non responsive to conventional treatment.

Common uses of ECMO-

  • Lung disease that is:
    • Acute
    • Life threatening
    • Reversible
    • Unresponsive to conventional/alternative therapy

Heart Disease

  • Post heart surgery cardiac  repair
  • Bridge for patients with end-stage heart failure to heart transplant
  • Acute heart failure due to infection,drugs,heart attack

The key to the success of ECMO may be the time of initiation. ECMO is most useful if it is used as early as possible in the patients.

Advantages  of ECMO

  • Rapid priming, bedside, local anesthesia
  • Easy, quick, safe
  • Support for heart, lung
  • Bioline Bioactive Surface
  • For both adults and children
  • Neck, femoral, thoracic cannulation


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