Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

In intensive care medicine, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is anextracorporeal technique of providing both cardiac and respiratory support oxygen to patients whose heart and lungs are so severely diseased or damaged that they can no longer serve their function. Initial cannulation of a patient receiving ECMO is performed by a surgeon and maintenance of the patient is the responsibility of theECMO Specialist and gives 24/7 monitoring care for the duration of the ECMO treatment.


Image from CHLA.org (link)                   Extremely Large Image 5,184 x 3456  here

On Sun., Oct. 30, 2011, an Emergency Transport Helicopter rushed two-day-old Dorion Freeman to the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Suffering from severe respiratory failure, Dorion was diagnosed with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, a serious condition in which a newborn inhales meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs during delivery. To save his life, specialists placed him on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO.

Similar to a heart-lung bypass machine used for open-heart surgery, ECMO is a heart-lung bypass system that takes over circulatory and respiratory functions in infants whose systems fail. It is a life-saving surgical and medical treatment for a variety of issues, such as meconium aspiration syndrome, sepsis, respiratory distress syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, or a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. 

Typically used as a last-resort when the infant is not responding to standard treatment, ECMO technology increases survival rate by up to 80 percent. 

ECMO requires two staff specialists at the patient’s bedside 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as a team consisting of neonatologists, pediatric surgeons, perfusionists, ECMO specialists, cardiologists, neuro-radiologists and pediatric emergency transport specialists. (adapted from chla.org)

Click for flickr set (here)

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