Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), also referred to as extracorporeal life support (ECLS), is an extracorporeal technique of providing prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to persons whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange or perfusion to sustain life. The technology for ECMO is essentially derived from cardiopulmonary bypass, which provides shorter-term support with arrested native circulation. ECMO works by temporarily drawing blood from the body to permit artificial oxygenation of the red blood cells
and removal of CO2. Generally, it is used either post-cardiopulmonary bypass or in late-stage treatment of a person with a profound heart and/or lung failure, although it is now seeing use as a treatment for asystole in certain centers, allowing treatment of the underlying explanation for arrest while circulation and oxygenation are supported. ECMO is also used to support patients with the acute viral pneumonia
associated with COVID-19 in cases where artificial ventilation is not sufficient to sustain blood oxygenation levels.
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