ECMO

At Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program provides round the clock care for newborns, children and adults in cardiac or respiratory failure. Using advanced life support technology, our skilled team of ECMO experts delivers treatments that allow the heart and lungs to rest so that they can heal. 

ECMO Center of Excellence in the Piedmont Region 

As one of only three hospitals in North Carolina offering ECMO, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is a distinguished leader in critical care for advanced cardiac conditions. Our team of highly skilled respiratory specialists delivers comprehensive ECMO programs for newborns, adults and children. In fact, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has twice been awarded the Excellence in Life Support Award from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). This prestigious award signifies our commitment to providing exceptional care and designates our program as a Center of Excellence. 

ECMO at Wake Forest 

Our ECMO program provides care for patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Brenner Children's Hospital and the adult Cardiothoracic Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical CenterWe can support up to five patients at the same time. On average, we care for four patients per month.  

ECMO treatment is supported by a large team of highly trained specialists including: 

  • Cardiac surgeons 
  • Cardiologists 
  • Internal medicine doctors 
  • Intensive care doctors 
  • Neonatologists 
  • Nurses 
  • Pediatricians 
  • Pediatric surgeons 
  • Physician assistants 
  • Radiologists 
  • Respiratory care specialists 

Patients receiving ECMO treatment at Wake Forest have an ECMO specialist at their bedside at all times, performing minute-to-minute monitoring. These specially trained respiratory therapists are licensed and registered with years of experience in intensive care. Our nursing staff and physician assistants, many of whom have more than three decades of experience, work alongside intensive care physicians to provide round-the-clock care.  

ECMO Treatment: What to Expect 

ECMO does not heal diseases that cause cardiac or respiratory failure. Instead, it supports the circulation and ventilation of blood throughout your body so that your body can heal itself. The goal of ECMO treatment is to ensure your body has enough oxygen. 

Using a circuit of highly specialized equipment, ECMO does the work of your lungs and heart: 

  1. We place a large catheter into your blood vessel. 
  2. Your body pumps the blood out of your body and into the ECMO machine. 
  3. The machine adds oxygen to the blood and removes carbon dioxide. 
  4. Blood flows back into your body with enough pressure to circulate throughout the body. 

We repeat this circuit around the clock, under the careful supervision of our highly skilled ECMO team, until the body has time to heal itself, or treatment is no longer needed. 

While on ECMO, your daily routine includes: 

  • Chest X-rays 
  • Bathing 
  • Measurement of your weight 
  • Blood samples taken through the ECMO unit 
  • Plenty of rest (certain condition may require a temporary, medically-induced sleep) 
  • Medications to prevent infection, regulate the heart and blood pressure, prevent blood clotting and control pain 
  • Liquid nutrition provided through veins or a special feeding tube 

As your heart and lungs start to heal, we will reduce the amount of ECMO support you receive. When you show signs of getting better, we will temporarily discontinue ECMO. When your heart and lungs heal enough to support your needs, we permanently discontinue ECMO. You may remain on a ventilator for extra support several days or weeks after treatment. 

Contact Us 

Request an appointment online. Or, for more information, please call: 

  • 336-716-WAKE or 
  • 888-716-WAKE (toll-free)

 

Quick Reference

Heart & Vascular Center
New Patients

Local 336-716-WAKE
Toll-free 888-716-WAKE

Returning Patients

Vascular 336-716-4151
Heart 336-716-6674

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Last Updated: 06-19-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.