What is the difference between ECMO and cardiopulmonary bypass?

Updated: Dec 21, 2017
  • Author: Edwin Rodriguez-Cruz, MD; Chief Editor: Stuart Berger, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

The differences between ECMO and cardiopulmonary bypass are as follows:

  • ECMO is frequently instituted using only cervical cannulation, which can be performed under local anesthesia; standard cardiopulmonary bypass is usually instituted by transthoracic cannulation under general anesthesia

  • Unlike standard cardiopulmonary bypass, which is used for short-term support measured in hours, ECMO is used for longer-term support ranging from 3-10 days

  • The purpose of ECMO is to allow time for intrinsic recovery of the lungs and heart; a standard cardiopulmonary bypass provides support during various types of cardiac surgical procedures

A diagram of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is shown below.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) system. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) system.

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