Ventilators, though staples of modern critical care, can have drawbacks for both patient safety and comfort. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that a considerably less intrusive system from a company called ALung Technologies is about to begin clinical trials in India and Europe. The Hemolung is designed to perform respiratory gas exchange via a catheter inserted into the femoral or jugular vein. The process is essentially similar to traditional extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, but thanks to new technology, the device is touted to be safer and easier on the patient.
The Hemolung is a small, cylindrical, veno-venous extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal device that provides roughly 30 to 40 percent removal at blood flows in the range of 400 to 500 mL/min. The Hemolung requires a prime volume of 300 mL and minimal heparinization.
The military is investigating the artificial lung with the goal of delivering new critical care technology to the battlefield in the transport of combat casualties with acute lung injury. It’s described as a “set it and forget it type of device”.
Additionally, it eliminates the need to sedate the patient, the potential for ventilator pneumonia and intubation, so the patient can eat and speak. Overall stress on the throat and sinuses is also reduced.