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ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation)

Heart-lung bypass for respiratory failure

UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital and Kentucky Children’s Hospital have been designated an ECMO Center of Excellence by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). (The designation is renewed every three years.) There are fewer than 100 centers of excellence in the world, most of which are in the U.S.

ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a highly specialized treatment that uses a catheter to remove blood from the body, transport the blood to a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream of a critically ill person. This system provides heart-lung bypass support outside of the person's body.

With the designation of excellence in neonatalpediatric and adult ECMO care, UK HealthCare is one of a few centers offering a comprehensive program in extracorporeal life support (ECLS) committed to the needs of patients of all ages in respiratory failure.

The ELSO Award recognizes programs that reach the highest level of performance, innovation, satisfaction and quality. It signifies to patients and families a commitment to exceptional patient care. It also demonstrates to the health care community an assurance of high quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols, and advanced education of all staff members.

  • Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) Neonatal Respiratory ECMO Outcomes and Quality Assurance Metrics

    ECMO Quality Metrics 2015 and Cumulative (KCH Vs. ELSO)


    KCH 2014

    KCH cumulative

    ELSO cumulative

    Neonatal ECMO patients (n) 9 39 3042

    Care outcomes

    Survival to  discharge (%) 89 90 65
    Infection while on ECMO (%) 0 2.5 4.2
    Intracranial hemmorhage (%) 11 5.1 12.2
    Circuit clots (%) 44 38.5 43.8
    Circuit air (%) 11 10



    Length of ECMO (hours) 99 125 217.2

    Note: The U.S. ELSO data is updated semi-annually in January and July at


    Circuit Air: any air bubble that is detected in the ECMO circuit.

    Circuit Clots: clots that develop anywhere in the ECMO circuit (tubing, pump, bladder, oxygenator, bridge). This is not unusual since blood is running through tubing.


    Survival to discharge (%): The higher the percentage, the better the survival.

    Infection while on ECMO (%): Lower percentage is better (lower number of infections occurred).

    Intracranial hemorrhage (%): Lower percentage is better (lower number of head bleeds).

    Circuit clots (%): Lower percentage is better (fewer clots in circuit).

    Circuit air (%): Lower percentage is better (fewer episodes of air in the circuit).

    Length of ECMO (hours): Lower number of hours is better. The less time a patient spends on the ECMO circuit, the less risk of complication and the shorter time required to recover.