ECMO Program


The UI Hospitals and Clinics is pleased to provide Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) services to patients.

ECMO is prolonged partial heart-lung bypass for selected critically ill patients with severe, but reversible respiratory failure and/or cardiac disease who have failed other intensive care therapies. With the addition of Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) and Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (TPE) to our other existing services (including ECMO, high frequency ventilation, and inhaled nitric oxide), the UI Hospitals and Clinics is able to provide a full spectrum of advanced extracorporeal support services for adults, children, and infants.

ECMO is achieved by draining venous blood through a closed circuit, removing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen using an artificial lung, and returning the blood to the circulation via a vein (venovenous ECMO) or an artery (venoarterial ECMO). When used in the venoarterial mode, most of the venous blood is diverted from the central circulation and the functions of both the heart and lungs are replaced by the artificial organs. ECMO support can be maintained over a prolonged period of time to allow the patient’s lungs and/or heart to recover from the underlying medical or surgical problem.

The ECMO is a joint effort by the Departments of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Pediatrics, Nursing, and Respiratory Care. It is the only program in Iowa and one of the few programs in the nation that supports adult, pediatric, and neonatal patients.

Patient Stories