“This service is usually found in large academic hospitals,” said Dr. Vincent Nardy, a surgeon with Cardiothoracic Surgery Associates. “It requires specialized staff to sustain a patient on ECMO. A patient may require treatment for a few days or a few weeks depending on the patient’s condition.”
ECMO does not treat or cure a disease. Instead, it is used in critical care situations in which a patient’s heart and lungs need help to heal and other life-support options have not worked. It may be used in care for COVID-19, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), pulmonary embolism, respiratory failure, cardiogenic shock, severe hypothermia, life-threatening response to infection such as sepsis, and other conditions of the heart and lungs. It may also be used with patients who are waiting for or recovering from a heart or lung transplant.