Heart and Vascular Care / Heart and Vascular Programs and Services / Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) therapy supports your heart and lung function when you experience a severe and life-threatening illness. An ECMO mechanical pump temporarily takes over the functions of your heart and lungs, allowing them to rest and recover.

At Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, we have provided this life-saving care to children and adults for more than 25 years. Today, our ECMO program is the largest in Tennessee and the only one with a mobile ECMO team.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO): Why Choose Vanderbilt

At Vanderbilt, you will find:

  • A team of ECMO experts: Our team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialists are specially trained in ECMO, making them uniquely qualified to care for you.
  • Transport services: Our mobile team can travel to other regional hospitals to initiate ECMO therapy. We collaborate with Vanderbilt LifeFlight to provide transport to Vanderbilt for advanced care.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO): Conditions We Treat

At Vanderbilt, we may use ECMO to treat the following conditions:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Acute lung failure
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Heart failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Post-surgery cardiac failure

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Treatment

At Vanderbilt, we offer two types of ECMO treatment: 

  • Venovenous (VV) ECMO: We use this minimally invasive procedure when your heart functions properly, but your lungs need short-term support. This treatment removes carbon dioxide and returns oxygen to the blood when the lungs can no longer perform this function. 
  • Venoarterial (VA) ECMO: This treatment can support your heart and lung function, giving your organs time to heal.