The Role of Perfusionists During ECLS ?

Hi Frank,

How are you?

I need your help because I’m collecting some data about the
role of perfusionist during ECLS in US, to compare with the
role of perfusionist in Italy.

Could you help me sending some data, protocols and other

Thanks in advance.


[email protected]

I got the above email from a colleague in Italy, who provides an amazing resource from Italy:

(Click to View Site)


At our institution. we play multiple roles during an ECMO run.  We set up and prime, go on emergently, sometimes we “sit the pump”, but most often we oversee qualified nurses as they manage the ECMO run.  Typically we are resources, but very proactive in terms of identifying and correcting issues.

I personally don’t wander off too far, and pretty much stay in the room, and definitely in the PICU.

Our nurses do a fine job, but just don’t have the clinical experience that gets you out of trouble (accidental de-ccanulation for example) that is only learned during the course of many years in the profession.

I have walked a few nurses through the weaning process, but have always gone on alone- or with another perfusionist.  Typically those moments are emergencies, and involve a fairly high stress load.

I am sure there are perfusionists on this board far more qualified to define their particular roles in ECLS management.


(Feel free to enter your thoughts in the comments section…)



Here is an Older VAD / ECMO Policy

(Click to View…)



Perfusion. 2010 Jan;25(1):21-4. Epub 2010 Feb 19.

The new role of the perfusionist in adult extracorporeal life support.


Heart and Vascular Institute, Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17003, USA. [email protected]


Adult and pediatric extracorporeal life support (ECLS) has been transformed by the European(1) and Australian( 2) experiences with a reduction of the circuit to its most basic form (Figure 1). Many factors have converged at this point in time to allow us to offer this support. The availability in the U.S.A. of an advanced oxygenator (Quadrox(D)) (Maquet Inc., Bridgewater, NJ), long-term centrifugal pumps and circuit coatings offers us the means to provide ECLS. The other equally important factor is the intensivist trained in extracorporeal therapies. Once the intensive care unit registered nurse (ICU RN) is trained to safely and effectively manage both the patient and ECLS circuit, this support may be offered. The perfusionist is in an unique position to educate and mentor the ICU RN in ECLS. There is, perhaps, no one in a better position to explain this equipment and its uses in an interdisciplinary-oriented pediatric and adult ECLS program than a perfusionist.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]