How is someone placed on ECMO?

There are two different ways for ECMO to support your child. The first method is called Veno-Arterial, or VA, bypass. VA ECMO will support the heart and lungs. To place someone on VA ECMO, a small operation is performed on the right side of the neck. One cannula (tube) is placed in the right atrium of the heart (filling chamber) and a second cannula in the aorta (main artery of the body).

The second method is called Veno-Venous, or VV, bypass. This is used for lung support only. This type of ECMO requires only one catheter to be placed through the right side of the neck. This procedure is done in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Cannulas are placed through the right side of the neck because ECMO requires the use of the big blood vessels that are near the heart. At the same time your child is being canulated, a specially trained ECMO specialist sets up the ECMO circuit. It is primed with blood that is carefully tested and cross-matched for compatibility with your child's blood type.

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