MLH ranks among the larger ECMO centers for cardio-pulmonary failure


Submitted by Louis Samuels, MD, cardiac surgeon and Eric Gnall, MD, interventional cardiologist, Lankenau Heart Institute


Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a therapy used to manage the most advanced and complex forms of acute cardio-pulmonary failure, has made considerable advances in simplicity and safety since its origin as a byproduct of the original heart-lung machine developed in the 1950s. A recent report from Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) announced an enormous upsurge in the number of ECMO cases and number of ECMO centers across the country.  Concomitant with this trend is the steady improvement in survival rates for all comers—neonates, pediatrics, and adults.


In 2013, Main Line Health established a dedicated ECMO service with specially trained Cardiovascular Surgeons, Interventional Cardiologists, Pulmonary Critical Care Specialists, Perfusionists, and Clinical Nurse Specialists (i.e. NP and RN) who provide this lifesaving therapy across the System.


Since the inception of the ECMO Program at Main Line Health, the number of cases performed has exceeded 20 per calendar year—which compared to national benchmarks, ranks Main Line Health’s experience as a ‘moderate to large’ ECMO Center.  Using the ELSO Registry as a benchmark for patient outcomes, the results have been well within the acceptable range and exceeding the registry’s results in some categories.


ECMO can be a lifesaving therapy for patients with acute cardio-pulmonary conditions that are refractory to conventional treatment.  The ECMO team and services are available to all MLHS campuses and can be easily activated by calling the ECMO Pager (E-C-M-O or 3266) or the Page Operator.

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