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What is ECMO?

ECMO stands for ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.
It is the use of an artificial heart-lung machine for patients whose heart or lungs are failing despite all other treatments. The ECMO equipment functions as a heart (pump) and lung (providing oxygen). It takes over the work of these organs so they can rest and heal.

ECMO is used for children and adult patients with severe, but reversible heart or lung disorders that have not responded to the usual treatments of mechanical ventilation (ventilator), medicines, and extra oxygen.

    Adults who need ECMO usually have one of the following problems:
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure from trauma or severe infections
  • Cardiac failure
ECMO will not cure these conditions; it does give support and allow time for the lungs/heart to heal. EMCO is continued until the heart or lungs recover or until treatment is not effective; it may be a period of days or weeks.
The length of time on ECMO may be affected by: the type of lung or heart disease, the amount of damage to the lungs before ECMO, and other illnesses or complications.                                                 Lauren - On ECMO



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