Review Article

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)—A Lifesaving Technology. Review and Single-center Experience

Maged Makhoul, Keren Bitton-Worms, Zvi Adler, Ayman Saeed, Oved Cohen, and Gil Bolotin


Objective: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is used to bypass the cardiopulmonary system in a severe heart or/and lung failure, mainly in intractable conditions where all other therapy options fail or are unfeasible. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a well-established therapeutic option in such circumstances for neonatal, pediatric, and adult patients. Managing a patient with ECMO requires dedicated and specific management. The importance and necessity of this essential technology in life-threatening cardio-respiratory rescue prompted Rambam Health Care Campus to implement it and make it available as a service to the population in northern Israel. This article includes a brief review of extracorporeal life support and a report of our single-center experience since the establishment of the service. Methods: The ECMO unit was established in 2014 under the responsibility of the Cardiac Surgery Department. The ECMO service was initiated by a well-planned program with consideration of all aspects including economics, education and training, the specialist team and equipment needed, strategies for medication, and ethical challenges. Results: Between February 2014 and May 2018, 65 patients were treated with ECMO; 43 patients received veno-arterial ECMO for cardiac support (66%), while 22 received veno-venous ECMO for respiratory support (34%). The in-hospital mortality was 56%. Conclusions: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is an effective therapy that is constantly growing in use and provides a therapy that can replace previous options. To establish such a service requires a planned program and concerted effort. Our single-center experience presented a good learning curve and showed the feasibility as well as the efficacy of the ECMO procedure in life-threatening conditions.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2019;10(2):e0013