What is ECMO or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation- that Jayalalitha is put on?


The 68 year old Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha is critical following the cardiac arrest and is being treated at Apollo Hospital. She has been monitored closely by the team of experts and now been put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and other life support systems.

Here’s what you need to know about extracorporeal membrane oxygenation:

What is ECMO?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is also known as extracorporeal life support (ECLS). This is a treatment used in patients with life-threatening heart and/or lung problems.

Why is ECMO used?

It is used to provide enough oxygen to the patient while allowing time for the lungs and heart to rest or heal.

Who needs ECMO?

Doctors use ECMO on patients when they believe that the condition is reversible. Generally, it is only used in the case of a person who is dealing with heart or lung failure as it is solely a life-sustaining intervention.

Also, this treatment is mostly used on children as it can give the tiny hearts and lungs of newborns more time to develop, however, it has been seen used more in case of adults with cardiac and respiratory failure.

Conditions that may require ECMO include:

  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia or CDH (a hole in the diaphragm)
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (difficulty breathing)
  • Birth defects of the heart
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Respiratory failure
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Severe infections

ECMO may also be used during the recovery period after heart surgery.


Wefornews Bureau

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