Critical Care at Johnson City Medical Center

Johnson City Medical Center offers the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program for our patients whose serious illnesses prevent their heart and lungs from working properly. ‘Extracorporeal’ means the blood circulates outside the body, and ‘membrane oxygenation’ refers to the machine’s ability to deliver oxygen directly to the blood.

The ECMO machine provides life-saving care that takes stress off the heart and lungs by acting as a temporary heart and lungs, so the patient can recover. ECMO may also be used for patients awaiting lung or heart transplants.

Our dedicated team of ECMO clinicians including surgeons, critical care physicians, and nurse practitioners determine if a patient is eligible for ECMO. Each patient’s case is considered on an individual basis.

Who qualifies?

ECMO may be appropriate for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Acute lung failure
  • Heart failure
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pulmonary hypertensive crisis
  • Severe pneumonia

Are there risks?

As with any procedure, ECMO does carry risks.

  • Bleeding, due to medication given to prevent blood from clotting in the tubing
  • Infection at sites where tubes enter the body
  • Issues with transfusion, since ECMO patients are given blood products
  • Small clots or air bubbles form in the tubing
  • Increased chance of stroke

ECMO patients are closely monitored by our team of experts, including ECMO specialists and intensive care nurses.