Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Therapy

Also known as: ECMO therapy.

What is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy is an emergency medical treatment for very ill babies/children who often need a heart and/or lung support. It involves circulating blood out of the body, through an artificial lung for oxygenation and back into the body.

What happens during the procedure?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy is major surgery. While the baby is under anesthesia, a large team of specialists will place catheters into major blood vessels through the baby’s neck or groin. A pump pulls the blood through the catheters and into an artificial lung, and then the blood is circulated back through the body. This is a temporary situation until the baby’s medical problems can be more thoroughly treated. Blood needs to be thinned with medications to prevent clotting.

Is any special preparation needed?

In general, babies are very ill on artificial respirator and require general anesthesia for the procedure.

What are the risk factors?

Bleeding, blood clots, infection and transfusion problems are potential risks of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy.

Reviewed by: Balagangadhar Totapally, MD

This page was last updated on: 7/5/2018 7:43:37 PM

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