Flu patients use artificial lungs to heal

Jan. 27, 2013 at 11:41 PM
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TORONTO, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Toronto General Hospital physicians say they used Extra Corporeal Lung Support -- artificial lungs -- to aid the recovery of five influenza patients.

"ECLS is an important part of our ability to bridge patients to lung transplantation and we have a great deal of experience in its use," Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, who directs the ECLS Program as part of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program and surgeon in chief at University Health Network's Toronto General Hospital, said in a statement. "As the technology has improved over the years, we are now able to offer this life-saving therapy to the small percentage of patients with influenza that get into severe trouble with acute lung injury."

The ECLS systems are essentially artificial lungs that oxygenate the patient's blood outside the body, giving lungs a chance to rest and heal. This method of oxygenation means a ventilator is not used to help the patient breath and also means a patient is not exposed to the possibility of further lung injury, which can happen to ventilated patients, Keshavjee said.

The use of ECLS system requires expertise in its use to avoid other problems such as clots, bleeding problems and infections related to use of the device.

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