When critically ill patients require more advanced life-saving care than a traditional ventilator can provide, they may be a candidate for what is known as Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). PMC is the only hospital in the region to offer this life-saving technique that provides temporary support to patients with severe respiratory or cardiac failure in the ICU. ECMO functions as an advanced form of life support similar to a heart-lung bypass machine used during open heart surgery. It takes over the function of the lungs, heart, or both, allowing these organs to rest and recover.
ECMO is used for various critical care situations. In cases of severe respiratory failure, this machine can provide oxygenation and carbon dioxide removal by temporarily bypassing the lungs. In severe cardiac failure, it can assist the heart by pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body, giving the heart a chance to recover and regain its strength. ECMO can be used during complex surgeries or as bridge therapy for recovering transplant patients.
The decision to initiate the process utilizing the ECMO is carefully considered for each individual patient and their condition. This advanced technology has revolutionized critical care, providing a lifeline for patients with severe respiratory or cardiac failure. By temporarily supporting or replacing the function of the lungs or heart, ECMO offers a better chance for recovery.