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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Regional Medical Center provides extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) services to adult patients. We are proud to be one of just 15 California hospitals who are members of the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO).

The portable heart-lung support system is designed to save the lives of patients whose heart and/or lungs are failing and who need cardiac and/or pulmonary support.

ECMO is prolonged partial heart-lung bypass for selected critically ill patients with severe, but reversible respiratory failure and/or cardiac disease who have failed other intensive care therapies. It can be used to replace the function of the lungs after trauma or severe infection.

The portable ECMO machine temporarily takes over the work of the lungs and sometimes the heart. It is usually used after surgery in the Intensive Care Unit for a few days up to several weeks on patients who have a failing heart or lungs.

When a patient is placed on ECMO, blood will flow through the ECMO tubing where it receives oxygen from the machine's lung. This happens until the heart and/or lungs are able to work on their own.

  • Extracorporeal: The blood circulates outside of the body with the help of a machine (excorp)
  • Membrane Oxygenation: Artificial lung puts oxygen into the blood and removes carbon dioxide just as lungs do

The portable ECMO machine can be used to transport critical patients for a higher level of care.