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Mechanical Circulatory Support

The Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program (ECMO) began at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in 1977 when a young child with critically low cardiac output needed support following a tetralogy repair. Since then, the program has grown to be one of the largest in the country.

Children’s Hospital has the facilities and equipment to provide support for four simultaneous ECMO cases. The program averages between 30 and 50 ECMO procedures each year. Membrane oxygenation support is offered to infants, children and young adults with various kinds of respiratory distress; to patients requiring mechanical support during resuscitation from cardiac arrest; to infants and children with cardiac decompensation secondary to viral myocarditis or cardiomyopathy awaiting transplantation; and to infants with respiratory distress secondary to a congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Infants and children on ECMO receive critical care nursing support and bedside perfusion support during their perfusion phase. Linear post-ECMO follow-up is also provided. Various clinical trials are currently under way at the Heart Center to provide improved modalities within the ECMO support program for better methods of sustaining circulation during cardiorespiratory decompensation. In addition to the ECMO program, Children’s has a program in left and right heart assistance and other forms of mechanical support for failing circulation.

Referrals to the ECMO Program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh are usually directed through Children’s critical care physicians and through the hospital’s various intensive care units. Rapid medical transportation to the hospital can be provided, and the referral base for ECMO extends beyond western Pennsylvania to the New England states, the midwest and the upper southern states.

To make a referral for mechanical cardiopulmonary support for respiratory failure, please call 412-692-5160. To make a referral for mechanical circulatory support for cardiovascular failure, please call 412-692-5540.

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s ECMO Program:

  • is one of the largest in the country, averaging between 30 and 50 cases each year.
  • has the facilities and equipment to provide support for four simultaneous ECMO cases.
  • has a program in left and right heart assist and other forms of mechanical support for failing circulation.
  • is conducting clinical trials to provide improved modalities for better methods of sustaining circulation during cardiorespiratory decompensation.
Last Update
August 15, 2012
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Last Update
August 15, 2012
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