Medical Definition of Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: (ECMO) A life support system that circulates the blood through an oxygenating system. ECMO is like a heart-lung machine that takes over the work of the heart and lungs during open heart surgery. ECMO may be used, for example, to treat ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), lethal smoke inhalation injury, or irreversible heart failure. As a general rule, ECMO is only used for limited time because of the high risks of bleeding, clotting, infection and organ failure.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018