Use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in adults

Heart Lung Circ. 2014 Jan;23(1):10-23. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2013.08.009. Epub 2013 Sep 1.


Since the first successful application of the heart-lung machine in 1953 by John Gibbon [1], great efforts have been made to modify the bypass techniques and devices in order to allow prolonged extracorporeal circulation in the intensive care unit (ICU), commonly referred to as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). ECMO uses classic cardiopulmonary bypass technology to support circulation. It provides continuous, non-pulsatile cardiac output and extracorporeal oxygenation [2]. Veno-venous ECMO (VV ECMO) provides respiratory support, while veno-arterial ECMO (VA ECMO) provides cardio-respiratory support to patients with severe but potentially reversible cardiac or respiratory deterioration refractory to standard therapeutic modalities. ECMO is a temporary form of life support providing a prolonged biventricular circulatory and pulmonary support for patients experiencing both pulmonary and cardiac failure unresponsive to conventional therapy. Despite the advent of newer ventricular assist devices that are more suitable for long term support, ECMO is simple to establish, cost-effective to operate.

Keywords: Cardiac surgery; Cardiopulmonary insufficiency; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Resuscitation; Ventricular assist devices.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Critical Care / economics
  • Critical Care / history
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / adverse effects
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / economics
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / history
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / therapy
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Lung Diseases / therapy
  • Male