What is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a form of advanced life support for patients with severe cardiac or respiratory failure. The treatment supplies oxygen to the patient’s blood and helps pump the blood back into the body. A pump circulates blood through a circuit of tubing supporting heart function and through an oxygenator, which functions as an artificial lung. The Methodist Hospital ECMO program helps patients of all ages with life-threatening diseases that impair heart and lung function.

Program details

Methodist Hospital’s distinctive ECMO program is the primary ECMO provider for one of the largest cities in Texas and fastest growing areas in the U.S. We operate the only ECMO program that reaches as far west as El Paso and as far south as McAllen.

Methodist Hospital’s ECMO program has received the ELSO Gold Level Center of Excellence Award—the most prestigious designation in critical care by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. We take pride in the responsibility we have to saves the lives of so many, striving to care for the sickest of patients that other facilities are not equipped to manage. Every procedure could provide a second chance for a patient to return home to their family, and we are dedicated to offering that chance for those who need it.

Who may qualify for ECMO?

ECMO can be considered for any patient with severe respiratory failure and a potentially reversible etiology (pneumonia, aspiration, volume overload) who meets the following criteria:

  • Hypoxemic respiratory failure with PaO2: FiO2 < 100
  • Respiratory acidosis with pH < 7.20 despite optimal ventilator management
  • Initiation of prone positioning, inhaled nitric oxide, or neuromuscular blockade for rescue of respiratory failure
  • Respiratory failure with significant air leak syndrome or pneumothorax due to high ventilator settings

Indications for cardiac failure

ECMO can be considered for any patient with severe cardiac failure who meets the following criteria:

  • Severe refractory cardiogenic shock on moderate dose of two or more inotropes/pressors and/or use of other mechanical device (balloon pump, Impella, etc)
  • One of the following: urine output less than 30mL/hour, CVP over 16, lactate over 4 mmol/L

Patients who require ECMO must be addressed in a very narrow window of time. Our staff is always available 24/7 to support these emergent cases. They also have a very unique combination of expertise, specializing in both ECMO procedures, as well as cardiac and critical care with complex, unstable patients.

If you think the ECMO program might be right for your patients, please call Methodist Healthcare to speak to an ECMO clinician at (210) 575-ECMO (3266).