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Nursing Care of Adult Patients on ECMO

Calhoun, Alex, RN, BSN, CCRN

doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0000000000000226
Original Articles

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is used for both cardiac and pulmonary failure when conventional measures are no longer substantial in supporting life. ECMO is not a permanent device. It is used as a temporary measure to allow the lungs and heart, as well as other organs to recover. If recovery is not possible, it may also be used as a bridge to a more permanent device such as the left ventricular assist device or heart or lung transplantation. This is a detailed description of the differences between venovenous ECMO and venoarterial ECMO and the nursing care that is associated with the two. A case study of a 37-year-old man on ECMO due to cardiogenic shock is included.

Allegheny Health Network, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence: Alex Calhoun, RN, BSN, CCRN, Allegheny Health Network, Allegheny General Hospital, 320 East North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 (

The author has disclosed that he has no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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