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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Helping your heart and lungs heal

ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is an advanced, lifesaving treatment for people with severe heart or lung conditions. It uses a machine to pump and oxygenate blood outside of a person’s body — work that is usually done by the heart and lungs.

A surgical procedure is needed to start ECMO treatment. Typically, a person who needs ECMO will be cared for by a team of multiple specialists, including thoracic surgeons, cardiovascular specialists, pulmonary specialists, critical care specialists, respiratory therapists, specially trained nurses, and more. Because of this, only advanced centers with a specialized care team have the capabilities needed to provide ECMO care.

Conditions treated with ECMO

Our team currently provides ECMO treatment for patients with serious conditions, such as:

  • Patients recovering from complex lung surgery
  • Respiratory failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Severe complications from respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, flu, or COVID-19
  • Pulmonary embolism

Patients are carefully evaluated and must meet certain criteria to qualify for ECMO. Some may only need ECMO for a short time, while others may stay on ECMO treatment for multiple weeks.