Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Evelina London specialises in supporting children with severe cardiorespiratory failure, including the use of ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). ECMO involves pumping blood out of the body to a machine that puts oxygen in the blood and removes carbon dioxide, before returning the blood to the body. It is necessary when there is cardiac or respiratory failure despite other intensive care measures and is only used in the sickest patients because there are risks to this procedure. It is only used when the disease causing cardiorespiratory failure is reversible.

Most children requiring ECMO have either had cardiac surgery or pneumonia. If a child needs ECMO then we will try to discuss this fully with their family, however sometimes this is not possible if it is an emergency.

Read a leaflet about ECMO (PDF 217Kb).