There is a growing demand for new technology that can take over the function of the human lung, whether it is to assist an injured or recently transplanted lung or to completely replace the native lung. The use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as a bridge to lung transplantation was reported for the first time more than 3 decades ago; nevertheless, its use in lung transplantation was largely abandoned owing to poor patient survival and frequent complications. ECMO as a bridge to lung transplantation has significantly increased during the past 10 years. This increase in utilization is reflected in the growing success reported with the use of different ECMO modalities in patients awaiting lung transplantation. The use of ECMO is now being considered in awake and nonintubated patients so as to improve oxygenation, facilitate ambulation, and improve physical conditioning before transplant. Several programs have developed ambulatory capability of most forms of ECMO, and ambulatory ECMO is now often referred to as the "artificial lung." We present a brief description of the evolution of the use of ECMO in lung transplantation and summarize the available technology and current approaches to provide ECMO support.
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