ECMOlife, an innovative device that can temporarily replace the function of heart
and lungs and currently used in the hospitals
of 13 countries throughout the world, was previewed by experts from all
over the world during the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
(EACTS) held in October 2019. The innovative technology developed by Eurosets, an Italian company based in
Medolla (MO) specializing in the design, manufacturing and commercialization of
biomedical devices, is a “life-saving”
device, an extra-corporeal
circulation and oxygenation system (ECLS - ExtraCorporeal Life Support)
characterized by an innovative technology which also comprises a state-of-the-art
magnetically levitated centrifugal pump that can perform the function of the
Since it was launched on the market in July 2020, dozens of ECMOlife have been installed in Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Croatia, Hungary, Switzerland, Albania, Turkey, Kuwait and Myanmar. Other countries will have the chance to equip themselves with ECMOlife over the next few months thanks to the ongoing international registrations. The Eurosets device currently boasts a wide range of uses: it is in fact used in Cardiac Surgery, Haemodynamics, Intensive Care, in the treatment of critical Covid patients, in case of cardiogenic shock following heart surgery, to counter respiratory crises or as support during pulmonary and heart transplants.
“Our mission is to provide an answer to the various clinical problems thanks to innovation, and ECMOlife is fully in line with our objective,” commented Antonio Petralia, Eurosets Vice-President and CEO. We are proud to bring this innovative device to the market to support the work of health professionals so that they can help patients in critical conditions wherever in the world.”
ECMOlife enables the treatment of complex patients in various therapeutic areas, making it possible to use cutting edge clinical approaches such as ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) and Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS). These treatments are used to cure patients whose cardiac-respiratory system is severely compromised and immune to pharmacological therapies, in case of cardiac arrest or of severe cardiac or respiratory insufficiency, such as patients affected by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which may be caused by respiratory viruses as seen in H1N1 (swine flu), SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) or Covid-19 cases. Therefore, should one or more ‘noble’ organs - heart or lungs - be temporarily compromised, ECMOlife can replace them while waiting for them to recover their natural function.
Over the past few months, the media covered numerous cases in which ECMOlife was used, particularly in Spain, where the Virgen de la Arrixaca Hospital in Murcia was the first in the country to use the device to successfully treat a young Covid patient in a critical situation. In Italy, a recent case saw the first use of ECMOlife during a Haemodynamics operation: the device saved the life of a patient operated on in Villa Torri Hospital in Bologna. Due to severe heart conditions, the man could not cope with classic bypass surgery. A multi-disciplinary surgical approach was therefore used, which required the support of ECMOlife to perform a coronary angioplasty. ECMOlife is currently used in Italy by various specialized centres in Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Campania, Veneto and Lazio. In fact, using ECMO requires a specialized team, so this technology is at present available only in highly-specialized hospitals.
ECMOlife and Covid-19 During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Eurosets saw the demand for ECMO disposable devices triple. This device currently represents the last resort for intubated patients connected to mechanical ventilation and who are not benefiting from it. Thanks to the insertion of specific cannulae into the great vessels, patients are connected to the extracorporeal oxygenation device which removes carbon dioxide and oxygenates the blood. This condition enables natural lungs to remain partially at rest as the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchanges occur directly between the ECMO device and the patient’s blood.
“Thanks to our ECMO technologies, and now also thanks to ECMOlife, it is possible to increase the chances of recovery and reduce the mortality rate of Covid-19,” commented Antonio Petralia. ECMOlife is indeed capable of supporting patients affected by Covid-19 in critical conditions, which is why the demand for these types of devices is still high.”
The future of ECMOlife The reduced size and transportability of ECMOlife makes it suitable for use in ambulances as well as on aircraft from next year. Patients with severe pulmonary diseases or in cardiac shock can therefore be stabilized wherever they are and be taken to hospital. In Italy, over 60 thousand people experience cardiac arrest every year. Only 5% of them survive, a percentage which can rise to 30% thanks to the recent diffusion of the semi-automatic defibrillator, which needs to become even more widespread. ECMOlife, thanks to its Italian technology, is destined to improve the current cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques even more: it is in fact estimated that devices such as ECMOlife can increase survival rates in case of cardiac arrest by up to 60-70%.