Special Interview with Dr Loveleen Mangla on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
Q. What is ECMO?
ECMO is also known as Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. It is
a pump that withdraws blood from the body, oxygenates it and delivers it back
to the body. It is a machine, used when lungs and/or heart are almost
destroyed. It has also been used as a bridge therapy for patients awaiting a
Q. What are the types of ECMO?
There are mainly two types of ECMO - Veno-venous (VV) ECMO
and Veno-arterial (VA) ECMO. VV ECMO withdraws blood from the veins and
delivers it back in the veins. VV ECMO is used when only the lungs are damaged
and the heart is functioning normally. VA ECMO is used when both lungs and
heart are not functioning properly. It withdraws blood from veins and delivers
it to arteries. Hence, it takes over the function of both lungs and
Q. How does the ECMO machine works?
The machine is connected to the patient through plastic
tubes called us cannula. These cannulas are inserted inside the large blood
vessels of the body. These cannulas withdraw blood from the body and supply it
to the oxygenator, which adds oxygen to the blood and removes carbon-di-oxide
from the vessels. This blood is then sent back into the body by the pump, which
forces the blood with the same force as of heart. A successful ECMO therapy
requires a dedicate team effort.
Q. How does ECMO helps the patient getting
ECMO helps in providing support to the heart and lungs
while healthcare workers treat the underlying disease or organs available for the
transplant. ECMO per se doesn’t treat the disease but it provides required
support to the damaged organs. ECMO machine can be used for hours to days as
long as it is needed. ECMO has improved the survival of many severe critically
Q. What are the complications of ECMO? Ans.
Some of the major complications associated with ECMO are Bleeding
it can occur due to medications given to prevent clotting of the blood in the tubes. It can occur at the site of insertion of the cannula or any other body parts. Infections
can occur from the site of the insertion of the cannula. It can spread to the lungs and other body parts also. Stroke
It happens due to the formation of small clots which passes into the brain.
These clots can cause permanent damage to the brain but most of them are recoverable.
failure – It can occur due to decreased blood supply to the kidney.
Sometimes, the patient may require dialysis.Leg