Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

For a human physiology course that I am taking, I wrote a short paper on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). ECMO is a medical procedure used in cases of heart or lung failure in which the blood of a patient is pumped through an external device in order to add oxygen to the blood.

I was interested in this topic for multiple reasons:
  • A number of years ago I was sick in bed for a month with pneumonia. Many of the ways we die, from pneumonia to heart attack to stroke, are essentially variants of death from a lack of oxygenated blood to the brain.
  • I think you could combine this with other procedures such as hemodialysis. How long before we can get oxygenated nutrient-rich artificial blood piped to our homes as a utility like water or electricity?
  • Some of the same technology is used in cryonics after death to help preserve the structure of the brain.
In my ECMO paper, I describe each of the medical terms including the Latin and Greek word origins. I also describe and compare a number of related medical procedures. You can download the paper in Open Document Format (ODF).