ECMO equipmentThe highly specialized ECMO equipment at Aarhus University Hospital (photo: Tonny Foghmar, Aarhus University Hospital). 

Aarhus University Hospital is among the best centres in the world to save patients with acute and life-threatening lung or heart failure.

ECMO. The technique behind these four letters has saved the lives of many people at Aarhus University Hospital. ECMO (Extra Corporal Membrane Oxygenation) is an advanced treatment for patients who develop acute life-threatening lung or heart failure.

Aarhus University Hospital has now received proof of the quality of their ECMO treatment. The hospital was given the so-called ELSO Award by the international organisation ELSO (Extracorporeal Life Support Organization). Only few centres in the world have received this quality approval and Aarhus University Hospital is the only one in Denmark.

- ECMO treatment is particularly used in patients with potential life-threatening lung failure due to e.g. a severe pneumonia. The patient is connected to a special heart-lung machine, which leads the blood outside the body where it is oxygenated in the machine; this relieves the pressure on the diseased lungs and allows the lungs to rest and heal, says Christian Lindskov, consultant at the Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care at Aarhus University Hospital.

The patient can receive ECMO treatment for days or weeks while the underlying disease is treated. After treatment is finished, ECMO is phased out and the patient continues with general ventilator treatment.

- The prognosis for this treatment is good. Normally, 80-90% of this type of patients will die; with ECMO treatment mortality has been kept at 30% at Aarhus University Hospital.

- It means a lot to us to get this international award. We have a large number of employees in our team performing ECMO treatment and it is a huge recognition to get the ESLO Award.

Aarhus University Hospital has performed ECMO treatment since 1997. The number of treatments increased with the influenza epidemic in 2009; currently, 50 patients are treated annually.

Aarhus University Hospital hosts several ECMO courses annually and educates internal staff to perform ECMO treatment.

Further information:
Christian Lindskov, Consultant, Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Aarhus University Hospital, Tel.: + 45 78 45 10 23.