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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a type of life support machine. An ECMO machine can perform the functions of the heart and lungs for critically ill children.
Doctors use ECMO for short periods to help children heal from life-threatening conditions. ECMO does not cure these conditions, but it buys time for doctors to try new treatments and for your child’s body to recover.
The ECMO machine does the work of the heart and lungs—outside of the body. It puts oxygen into the blood, removes carbon dioxide and pumps blood throughout the body.
Uses for ECMO include:
Doctors only use ECMO to treat severe, life-threatening conditions. These conditions may include:
There are two types of ECMO:
Your child’s doctor will talk to you about the benefits and risks of ECMO. If you decide ECMO is the right option for your child, a special team hooks up the ECMO machine and monitors your child. The ECMO team includes pediatric intensivists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and cardiologists with special training in managing ECMO.
At Children's Hospital, your child receives excellent care from world-class experts. Learn more about cardiac critical care medicine at CHLA.