May 27, 2015


More than 125 people recently attended the 25th Annual Specialist Education in Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Conference organized, in part, by Texas Children’s Hospital.

Neonatologists, critical care physicians, surgeons, nurses and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) specialists gathered for three days in the Texas Medical Center to exchange information and ideas about the technique that can provide both cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose hearts and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of blood flow and oxygen to sustain life.

ECMO works by removing blood from a person’s body, pumping it through an oxygenator, and then returning the blood via a continuous circuit. Generally, it is a life-sustaining therapy that can be used in the later stages of heart or lung failure to provide an opportunity for proper treatment of the disease process and, hopefully, organ recovery.

“The relative infrequence of utilization, in addition to the high mortality and morbidity, makes proper education and training an absolute necessary component for personnel involved in the care of patients supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation,” said Dr. Matthew Musick, the activity director for the conference and PICU physician at Texas Children’s Hospital. “The goal of the conference is for participants to enhance their fund of knowledge and practical management strategies to better care for their patients.”

Many of Texas Children’s experts in the field of ECMO were highlighted at the conference as multiple presentations were given by our esteemed faculty and staff, including Dr. Darrell Cass, Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, and Dr. James Thomas. A wide scope of practice including sessions regarding therapeutic options for patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, the innovative use of ECMO for trauma patients, emerging ECMO technology for isolated heart failure, and the utility of simulation in ECMO programs were covered.