Who needs ECMO?

Treating heart and lung illnesses with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

At University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, our teams provide ECMO for tiny infants, children, and adult patients who have illnesses in the heart or lungs. Here are some examples:

  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
  • Heart failure (including failure from heart defects)
  • As a way to provide time before a ventricular assist device or transplant can take place
  • Pneumonia
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Some serious forms of influenza
  • Other breathing failure from trauma or infections

Other hospitals in our region may transfer patients to us for ECMO. We have an ECMO team that travels to those hospitals to place the patient on a portable ECMO machine so they can safely be transported to UI Hospitals & Clinics. Not all patients can be cared for on ECMO and a team determines if ECMO is the right means to care for the patient.

Last reviewed: 
June 2017

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