ECMO Complications

There are numerous complications of ECMO that might occur:

  • Internal bleeding may result since the blood must be kept from clotting. A drug called Heparin is given to thin the blood which can lead to bleeding problems.
  • Whenever a tube is inserted in a blood vessel, there is an increased risk of infection, surgical complications and stroke, which may occur since the procedure involves tying off two major blood vessels, typically the carotid and the internal jugular vein.
  • Blood clots are another complication of ECMO that can occur even though the circuit is monitored visually for any signs of clots or air.
  • Transfusion-related infections may occur due to the fact that patients will be receiving blood and blood products transfusions.
  • Techanical failure or malfunction can occur just as any piece of equipment can.