What is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation?

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for newborns: Overview

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is used for children who have very serious lung or heart problems. ECMO is done using a special machine that is connected to the child. The machine puts oxygen into the child's blood and takes carbon dioxide out of the blood.

ECMO does what the lungs and heart normally do on their own. This gives a child's lungs and heart time to rest, develop, and heal.

As a child's lungs and heart get stronger, ECMO can be used less over time. Your child may need ECMO for a few days to a few weeks, depending on how the lungs or heart improves.

Seeing tubes and wires attached to your child may be scary. But these things help the doctor treat your child. The tubes supply air, fluid, and medicines to your child. The wires are attached to machines that help the doctor keep track of your child's vital signs. These include temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pulse rate.

It may be hard to be apart from your child, especially when you worry about your child's condition. Know that the hospital staff is well prepared to care for children with this condition. They will do everything they can to help. If you need it, ask for support from friends and family. You can also ask the hospital staff about counseling and support.

What are the risks of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)?

ECMO can help you live longer, but it also has risks. They include infections, damage to organs or limbs, a stroke, and life-threatening bleeding or blood clots. Some of these problems can be treated. But others can cause lasting damage or even death.

What is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a type of life support. It's used for people with very serious lung or heart problems. ECMO uses a machine that takes carbon dioxide out of the blood and puts oxygen back into the blood. It does what the lungs and heart normally do on their own.

How is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) done?

The ECMO machine is connected to your body with two tubes. They are placed in large blood vessels. Where the tubes are connected depends on why you are having ECMO.

One tube takes your blood into the machine. The machine pumps your blood through a special filter that removes carbon dioxide. Then the machine puts oxygen into your blood and returns it to your body through the second tube.

Because people who need ECMO are very ill, it is done in the intensive care unit (ICU). There is lots of equipment in the ICU to help monitor and treat patients. You can expect to see tubes, wires, and machines everywhere. The staff can help you understand what all of this equipment does.

The length of time you have ECMO could be a few days to a few weeks. It depends on what condition you have and how severe it is.

Why is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) done?

ECMO is used in serious cases, when a person's heart or lungs aren't working like they should. It doesn't cure these problems. But it can provide more time until a transplant or other life-saving procedures can happen. ECMO is only used when there are no other options. And it doesn't always work.

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