Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a machine similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used in open-heart surgery. It oxygenates the patient's blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. When a patient is connected to an ECMO, blood flows through tubing to an artificial lung in the machine that adds oxygen and takes out carbon dioxide. This is then pumped back into the body.

ECMO is used:

  • For patients recovering from heart failure, lung failure or heart surgery
  • As a bridge option to further treatment, while doctors assess the state of other organs before performing heart or lung surgery
  • As a bridge to a heart assist device like an LVAD

Procedure

Being placed on ECMO requires a surgical procedure and anaesthesiologists but it is usually done in the patient’s room. The surgeon inserts the ECMO catheters into either an artery or a vein. While on ECMO, the patient will be monitored by specially trained cardiac anaesthesiologists. While on ECMO, patients may be given certain medications including heparin to prevent blood clots, antibiotics to prevent infections, sedatives to minimise movement, electrolytes to maintain the homeostasis and blood products to replace blood loss. To discontinue ECMO requires a surgical procedure. 

Other Procedures

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

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Anaesthesia during major cardiac surgeries

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Anaesthesia during cardiac interventions

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Anaesthesia during paediatric cardiac surgeries

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Anaesthesia during electrophysiological studies

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Monitoring using transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)

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Cardiac output monitoring

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Monitoring using Thromboelastography (TEG)

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Monitoring using Thromboelastometry (TEM)

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