Available at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a method of life support that uses a cardiopulmonary bypass machine to temporarily assume the work of the heart and lungs in cases of extreme cardiac or respiratory failure.
It is a life-saving option for patients who have not responded to other respiratory therapies.
How ECMO Works
ECMO works by sending the patient’s blood through an artificial membrane that infuses oxygen, removes carbon dioxide, and monitors critical blood parameters, including venous oxygen saturation, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and arterial and venous blood temperature.
ECMO provides the patient enough oxygen to survive and can be used for a period of several days to weeks, while the lungs or heart recover.
When Is ECMO Used?
Appropriate for use in adults and children, ECMO can be used in many situations, including:
- Underdeveloped lungs from congenital malformations
- Pulmonary air leak syndrome
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension
About Our ECMO System
Our ECMO system is the smallest portable heart-lung support system available in the world, and is the first cardiopulmonary support system cleared for both ground and air transportation. Weighing approximately 22 pounds and the size of a suitcase, it is light enough to be carried by one person and compact enough to be transported in a helicopter or ambulance. It could be used to stabilize critical patients on site for safer transport to the hospital.