ECMO

In the treatment of cardiac conditions requiring direct surgical intervention on the heart, it is necessary to temporarily interrupt blood flow to the heart and lungs. During this period of interruption, a device called an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine is used to circulate blood, providing temporary support for the functions of the heart and lungs.

ECMO enriches the blood with oxygen and removes carbon dioxide, thereby maintaining the metabolism of the body’s tissues. It is essential for surgeries that involve interruption or cessation of blood flow, such as those for angina or myocardial infarction. Additionally, it can be used to support lung function in cases of respiratory failure or organ damage. It also helps reduce the strain on the heart and lungs caused by diseases like low oxygen levels, COPD, COVID-19, emphysema, and sleep apnea.

ECMO is typically used in combination with a pump, which sends blood from the heart through the machine and back to the patient in circulation. It can also use a heat ex-changer to adjust the temperature of the blood.

There are various methods to enrich blood with oxygen, and one common approach is to use a hollow fiber membrane oxygenator. These hollow fiber membranes are employed for blood oxygenation in the ECMO machine. They are thin tubes with a hollow space inside, allowing gases to pass through but not the blood. Blood flows around the outside of these hollow fibers, while oxygen flows inside. Oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules can diffuse through the membrane, but blood cells and plasma cannot. This process oxygenates the blood and removes carbon dioxide, mimicking the gas exchange function of the lungs.

Some advantages of using hollow fiber membranes for blood oxygenation in ECMO include:

  1. Large surface area and thin membrane thickness, resulting in high gas transfer efficiency.
  2. They can be coated or treated to improve anti-fouling, anti-thrombogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. Compact, portable, simple, and disposable, making them convenient for clinical use with cost-effectiveness.
  4. The membrane acts as a barrier, preventing direct contact between blood and oxygen gas, reducing the risk of bubbles or hemolysis (red blood cell destruction).
  5. Minimizing blood exposure to foreign materials, thereby reducing the risk of blood clotting or infection.

 

Hollow fiber membranes are typically made from various synthetic polymers, but our company’s hollow fiber membranes are made from a single material, silicone rubber.

Some advantages of using silicone rubber as the material for hollow fiber membranes are as follows:

  1. Silicone rubber exhibits high permeability and selectivity for oxygen and carbon dioxide, the primary gases involved in blood oxygenation.
  2. Its high surface tension and hydrophobicity prevent blood wetting the membrane, reducing the risk of coagulation and fouling.
  3. Silicone rubber possesses excellent biocompatibility and blood compatibility, causing no significant inflammation, hemolysis, or platelet activation upon contact with blood.
  4. Its flexibility allows for repeated use without damage or leakage.
  5. Silicone rubber has excellent heat stability and chemical resistance, making it capable of withstanding high-temperature and sterilization processes without losing its properties.