Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible to receive ECMO?

At Mayo Clinic only people who are hospitalized may receive ECMO. It might be an option for people who haven't responded to other life-support measures, such as medications or ventilators.

How does ECMO differ from a ventilator?

A ventilator moves air in and out of the lungs when you are unable to get enough oxygen on your own. An ECMO machine circulates your blood through a machine to exchange carbon dioxide and deliver oxygen.

How long will I be on this type of life support?

That depends on the specifics of your condition and how you respond to treatments.

What are the most common risks of ECMO?

Possible side effects include bleeding, stroke, seizure, blood clot and infection.

Can this type of care be delivered at home?

No, ECMO is a therapy that uses complex machines found only in intensive care units or similarly equipped medical facilities.

Is ECMO considered for people in hospice?

No, ECMO is not an option for people whose life expectancy is less than six months or who have entered end-stage irreversible heart or lung disease and are not candidates for transplantation or long-term mechanical circulatory support.

Is ECMO an option for infants?

Children with serious qualifying conditions might benefit from ECMO if they are at least 4.6 pounds (2 kilograms) and older than 34 weeks.