Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) is an advanced technology that provides cardiac and respiratory support to a patient whose heart and lungs are not able to provide adequate gas exchange to sustain life.
ECMO is similar to heart-lung bypass machines used during open-heart surgery. While a patient is on ECMO, blood gets oxygenated by an artificial lung and is delivered throughout the whole body using an external mechanical pump. The machine acts as a form of life support, maintaining blood flow and oxygenation to the body's vital organs, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.
ECMO involves inserting catheters into the large blood vessels of the neck or groin. Blood can then be pumped to circulate through membranes capable of transferring oxygen and carbon dioxide, similar to our own lungs. This blood circulates back into the body.
Patients can be supported on ECMO for days to weeks, giving the heart and lungs time to recover, or until an implantable replacement or transplant becomes available.
ECMO at the University of Michigan
The University of Michigan has the most ECMO experience in the world, and frequently hosts visitors from around the globe for education and training. Our team is capable of instituting ECMO within minutes or, under special circumstances, traveling to referring institutions to initiate ECMO for a safer transport to our center. U-M's Survival Flight air and ambulance service offers dedicated staff trained and equipped to transport these patients.
Make an Appointment
To schedule an appointment to discuss heart failure, the need for ECMO, or any other cardiovascular conditions or treatments, call us at 888-287-1082 or visit our Make a Cardiovascular Appointment page, where you can find other information about scheduling a cardiovascular appointment and learn what to expect when you call us.