The advantages and risks of ECMOThe main advantage of ECMO is the ability to support oxygen delivery to the body during the guarding mode of artificial lung ventilation. The latter provides time and possibility to pul-monary tissue to restore its normal function and, subsequently, to pick up the "torch" of breath-ing. The delivery of oxygen is achieved by pumping the enriched blood into large arteries and the heart with the help of a special pomp. This means that ECMO can enable or support the cardiac pump function as well, if necessary.
The main risk of ECMO is bleeding. The blood, which is taken away from the body and carried via a complicated system of tubes, contacts with the plastic along the way and may coag-ulate (form blood clots). In order to prevent this, a hemo-liquefacient medicine, called Heparin, is introduced into the organism around the clock. Unfortunately, this can lead to the effusion of blood. The bleeding may occur in any part of the body, but the most detrimental consequences for health are developed with cerebral hemorrhage. The risk of bleeding is the highest when there is a need for an operation. Therefore, for any patient on ECMO, the transfusion of blood and its components can be required. As in any other procedure of blood transfusion, there is a risk (though very low) of allergic reaction and transmission of infection (viral hepatitis, HIV, others). It is necessary to inform that all the blood products and components are delivered to the Clinic from the Center of Blood after a careful check and preparation.
There are also other "hidden rocks" in treatment of such a complicated category of patients. They are attributed to a long patient stay in the intensive care unit and are not directly related to ECMO: pneumonia, sepsis, decubituses, moral exhaustion, etc. Our Center has all necessary equipment, and the staff is well trained for an effective way of prevention and treatment of such complications.