what is ecmo in the medical field?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is the expansion and extension of CPB (cardiopulmonary bypass) technology. ECMO can provide effective respiratory and circulatory support to critically ill patients who need external assistance in breathing and / or circulatory insufficiency.


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a new technique to save the life of dying patients. ECMO technique originated from cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) in cardiac surgery and was successfully used in the treatment of neonatal severe respiratory failure in 1975. In 1980, Dr. Bartlett of Michigan Medical Center in the United States led and established the first ECMO Center, followed by 145 ECMO centers around the world. In the last 10 years, with the emergence of new medical methods, ECMO technology has been greatly improved, and its application scope has been expanded.

The essence of ECMO is an improved artificial cardiopulmonary machine, the core of which is membrane lung and blood pump, which play the role of artificial lung and artificial heart respectively. When the ECMO is running, the blood is drawn from the vein, which absorbs oxygen through the membrane lung and emits carbon dioxide. After the gas exchange, the blood can return to the VV pathway of venous vein, or to the VA pathway of artery under the push of pump. The former is mainly used for external respiration support, the latter can replace the pump function of the heart, which can be used for both external respiratory support and cardiac support. When the patient’s lung function is seriously damaged, the ECMO can undertake the task of gas exchange, make the lung rest, and gain valuable time for the patient’s recovery.When the heart function of the same patient is seriously impaired, the blood pump can replace the function of the heart pump and maintain the blood circulation.

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