ECMO could be described as a type of “artificial lung” technology that pumps blood from a person’s body to an oxygenator that provides long-term oxygen and carbon-dioxide transfer. Medtronic has devices that are FDA-cleared for extracorporeal support of up to 6 hours — an appropriate amount of time for cardiopulmonary bypass procedures.
In accordance with a new FDA guidance, Medtronic says the following devices can now be used for longer than 6 hours in an ECMO circuit to treat people experiencing acute respiratory/cardiopulmonary failure during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The Bio-Console 560 extracorporeal blood pumping console with accessories
- Affinity CP adapter;
- Affinity centrifugal blood pumps.
Medtronic included an extended list of accessories in its news release.
ECMO technology could matter when it comes to treating COVID-19, because it potentially reduces or eliminates the need for mechanical ventilation. Fresenius Medical Care (NYSE:FMS), appears to recognize the promise for the technology, too. Fresenius on its website says it has considerably expanded its capacity to produce its Novalung ECMO system — delivering a large number of the European-approved version of the device to Wuhan, China in February.
FDA in February cleared the Novalung to provide more than six hours of outside-the-body life support — and Fresenius since then has started shipping the U.S. version of the device to hospitals. “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to deliver the first Novalung machines to U.S. hospitals in early May and more machines are arriving each week,” said Brad Puffer, spokesperson for Fresenius Medical Care North America.