Improved treatment with artificial lung

Under certain life-threatening conditions, situations arise where neither a respirator nor medication is sufficient to guarantee adequate respiration or cardiac function of the patient. During these circumstances, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) may be applied. Lisa Prahl Wittberg, Associate Professor in Fluid Dynamics/Multiphase Flows at KTH, conducts a study together with Mikael Broman, Senior Consultant Intensivist, ECMO Centre Karolinska, for a more gentle, safe and effective treatment.

ECMO treatment incorporates a pump driven system where an artificial lung is used to oxygenate the patient’s blood outside the body. To facilitate this mechanical system, cannulas need to be inserted into the patient’s larger blood vessels. In this research project, various cannula designs and cannulation methods are tested on an artificial copy of the adult's right atrium and associated blood vessels.

- The project investigates the forces acting on the blood during operation as well as reducing the proportion of oxygen-rich blood being drained back into the ECMO circuit instead of providing oxygen to the patient, says Lisa Prahl Wittberg, Associate Professor at KTH.

The systematic and quantitative studies will provide knowledge that improves how cannulae are placed but also their design. This is expected to lead to that healthcare will be able to offer patients a gentler, safer and more effective treatment.

The research project is being conducted with support from Region Stockholm and led by Lisa Prahl Wittberg, Associate Professor in Fluid Dynamics/Multiphase Flows at KTH, and Mikael Broman, Senior Consultant Intensivist, ECMO Centre Karolinska.