Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Last-resort therapy saving lives during flu epidemic

Date:
January 22, 2014
Source:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Summary:
Physicians are employing a technology known as ECMO as a last-resort therapy for extremely severe cases of influenza. ECMO is a sort of portable heart/lung bypass machine.

In extreme cases of flu, severe inflammation can cause the lungs to fail. ECMO essentially takes on the function of the lungs for a period of time by routing a patient’s blood into the machine where carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen is added. The blood is then pumped back into the body.
Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Physicians at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are employing a technology known as ECMO as a last-resort therapy for extremely severe cases of influenza. ECMO, short for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a sort of portable heart/lung bypass machine.

Related Articles


The machine was first developed for use in heart bypass surgery, and has also found utilization as a bridge to heart or lung transplantation and the treatment of other severe lung diseases.

In extreme cases of flu, severe inflammation can cause the lungs to fail. ECMO essentially takes on the function of the lungs for a period of time by routing a patient's blood into the machine where carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen is added. The blood is then pumped back into the body. Patients can remain on ECMO until the inflammation is reduced and the lungs are capable of functioning normally on their own.

UAB has used ECMO on more than a dozen adult patients with severe flu since the start of the flu season, and more than 50 adult patients with cardiopulmonary failure were treated with ECMO at UAB in 2013.

"These are very sick patients for whom traditional therapy such as a ventilator is simply not sufficient," said Enrique Diaz, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine and head of the UAB ECMO program. "By taking on the functions of the lungs and/or the heart, ECMO supports the body's normal function and gives these patients time to recover."

Use of ECMO is a complicated process. Patients can remain on ECMO in the intensive care unit for several weeks if necessary. Many require rehabilitation after coming off the machine.

ECMO requires a dedicated team of medical professionals, including intensive care specialists, surgeons, perfusionists, nurses trained in ECMO use, and respiratory and physical therapists.

"ECMO is a very specialized treatment, and typically only major academic medical centers will have the equipment, expertise and experience to employ ECMO for flu cases," said Diaz.

UAB has seven ECMO machines which have stayed busy since the start of flu season. Patients from hard-hit areas, including the Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast region, have been referred to the UAB ECMO program, along with patients from across Alabama.

"ECMO is not a cure, but it is a way to support some of these very critically ill patients who are failing conventional medical therapy, failing mechanical ventilation," said Diaz. "Many patients are being saved through the use of this technology."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Last-resort therapy saving lives during flu epidemic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122133639.htm>.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2014, January 22). Last-resort therapy saving lives during flu epidemic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122133639.htm
University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Last-resort therapy saving lives during flu epidemic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122133639.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins