A therapy that serves the purpose of the heart and lungs outside of the body. Blood is withdrawn through a big cannula, treated with oxygen, and returned to the body via a pump. It is a way to bypass the patient’s own heart and lungs.

Common Questions

Does ECMO treat the underlying problem?

No. ECMO allows for time for the body to respond to interventions. It provides for maximal support while a body heals.

What are the complications of ECMO?

Bleeding and clotting are two of the most common complications while a baby is on ECMO. Hearing loss is also associated with ECMO, so regular hearing screens are important for all children who were treated with ECMO as an infant.

Which babies need ECMO support?

Full-term babies with heart or lung failure who cannot be adequately supported on a ventilator may be candidates for ECMO.  Some of the most common diagnoses requiring ECMO are congenital diaphragmatic hernia, meconium aspiration syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, and sepsis.