OHSU

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) is used in rare instances to support critically ill patients who have severe and life-threatening heart and respiratory failure.  With ECMO, blood from the patient's veins is pumped through an artificial lung where oxygen is added and carbon dioxide is removed. The blood is then returned back to the patient and circulated in such a way as to sustain life.  ECMO support can be maintained over a prolonged period of time to allow the patient’s lungs and/or heart to recover from the underlying medical or surgical problem.