Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), is a method of life support which uses a cardiopulmonary bypass machine similar to a heart-lung machine to temporarily assume the work of the heart and lungs in cases of extreme cardiac or respiratory failure. It is most often used with infants who are critically ill with breathing or heart problems, though the life support can also be used with adolescents and adults.
ECMO allows the lungs and/or heart to rest and recover. ECMO provides the patient with enough oxygen to survive and is often a last resort when all other respiratory therapies have been exhausted. Most patients who receive ECMO would die if it were not used. Unlike a heart-lung machine, which is utilized for only a few hours during surgery on the heart and/or lungs, ECMO can support life for a period of several days to weeks.
ECMO is versatile and can be used in many cases such as:
Hasbro Children's Hospital is one of the busiest pediatric centers in New England, and the first hospital in Rhode Island to welcome ECMO, in collaboration with the department of neonatal-perinatal medicine at Women & Infants Hospital. In February 2010, a newborn was the first to use this life-saving technology at the hospital.