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Semin Pediatr Surg. 2006 Nov;15(4):242-50.

Extracorporeal life support.

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Section of Pediatric Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0245, USA. <>


Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) denotes the use of prolonged extracorporeal cardiopulmonary bypass in patients with acute, reversible cardiac or respiratory failure. As technology has advanced, organ support functions other than gas exchange, such as liver, renal, and cardiac support, have been provided by ECLS, and others, such as immunologic support, will be developed. The future of ECLS will include improvements in devices accompanied by circuit simplification and auto-regulation. Such enhancements in technology will allow application of ECLS to populations currently excluded from such support; for example, thromboresistant circuits will eliminate the need for systemic anticoagulation and lead to the use of this technique in premature newborns. As the ECLS technique becomes safer and simpler, and as morbidity and mortality are minimized, criteria for application of ECLS will be relaxed. New approaches to ECLS, such as pumpless arteriovenous bypass, the artificial placenta, arteriovenous CO(2) removal (AVCO(2)R), and intravenous oxygenators (IVOX), will become more commonly applied. Such advances in technology will allow broader and more routine application of ECLS for lung and other organ system failure.

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