Is there only one type of ECMO?
No, there are two types of ECMO: VV (veno-venous) and VA (veno-arterial).
VV (veno-venous) ECMO
- Supports the lungs.
- Uses one tube for babies and toddlers.
- Uses two tubes for older children.
Baby & Toddler
The tube is placed in a large vein in the child’s neck. It is two tubes in one (called a double lumen cannula). Blood drains from one side of the tube and returns in the other side.
One tube is placed in a large vein in the neck, the other tube is placed in a different vein (usually the groin). Blood drains from the tube in the neck and returns through the tube in the other vein.
VA (veno-arterial) ECMO
- Supports both the heart and the lungs.
- Uses two tubes - one in a vein and one in an artery.
- Blood is drained from the vein and returned to the artery.
- Both tubes are usually placed in the child’s neck.
- If your child needs ECMO shortly after cardiac surgery, the tubes may be in the chest (with the chest incision open and covered by a special dressing to prevent infection).
Rarely we will change your child from VV ECMO to VA ECMO if more support is needed for the heart.