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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

What is ECMO?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a treatment that provides oxygen delivery and blood pumping to a patient whose heart or lungs have temporarily lost function due to illness. Use of ECMO can help these organs to rest and heal while physicians work to manage the underlying medical condition.

When do patients need ECMO?

Patients with critical illnesses that impact lung or heart function may benefit from a period of ECMO support. In babies and children, ECMO may be used for: meconium aspiration, pulmonary hypertension, diaphragmatic hernias, cardiac abnormalities, respiratory failure or cardiac failure.

Why the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital?

At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, our multidisciplinary extracorporeal life support service includes neonatal and pediatric critical care physicians, pediatric surgeons, dedicated ECMO fellows, specially trained ECMO nurses, respiratory therapists and perfusionists. An ECMO specialist and dedicated ECMO fellows are available around the clock, ensuring continuity and quality of care. In addition, the multidisciplinary team regularly assesses each patient so that he/she can transition from ECMO support as soon as possible.

After a patient is transitioned from ECMO, the team continues to evaluate his/her condition and adjusts therapy according to current guidelines and protocols. Our pediatric surgery and intensive care teams also hold regular conferences to discuss cases, work on quality improvement, and identify opportunities for innovation and research. Comer Children's Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) Center is a proud recipient of the ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support. Learn more about ELSO.

Simulation Training

The University of Chicago Medicine is at the forefront of ECMO training and innovation. Through a dedicated simulation training program, our experts practice the technical aspects of ECMO management, develop evidence-based protocols, and enhance a team approach to care – leading to better patient outcomes.