Life Support Devices in Intensive Care
EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION |Patients in intensive care, especially those suffering from pneumonia, respiratory failure from trauma or infection, or cardiac failure, often need to let their organs rest while they are in recovery. Robert H. Bartlett, M.D. tells the story of the development of Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS), the use of mechanical devices to substitute for vital organ function. The basis for ECLS is a modified heart-lung machine. Unlike a heart-lung machine, however, an ECLS device can be used for extended periods to do the work of these organs so they can rest and heal. To date, ECLS has been used for newborns with impaired respiratory systems and cardiac patients awaiting heart transplants. Bartlett recounts his first research, discusses how clinical challenges informed bioengineering, and demonstrates how ECLS has changed the lives of patients and medical professionals. This description of the development of ECLS is part of the American College of Surgeons Ravdin lecture (2002) on artificial organs in intensive care.
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