Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Artificial Lung Closer to Clinical Trial

By
WebMD Feature

People who need a lung transplant can only wait and hope that a donor organ will materialize in time. But all too often, time runs out.

In response to the United States' critical shortage of donor organs, researchers have been racing to develop artificial organs that would serve as a "bridge" to transplantation. One such device is the BioLung, which may be tested in people soon.

Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

Walking Pneumonia

"Walking pneumonia" sounds like it could be a character in a sci-fi horror flick. Although this form of infectious pneumonia can make you miserable, it's actually the least scary kind of pneumonia. That's because it's a mild pneumonia and does not generally require hospitalization. You could have walking pneumonia and not even know it. Here is information about what causes this illness, how it spreads, and what you can do to avoid it.

Read the Walking Pneumonia article > >

Robert Bartlett, MD, surgeon at the University of Michigan Medical Center, leads the research on the BioLung, and Michigan Critical Care Consultants (MC3), a company in Ann Arbor, Mich., makes the device. Bartlett is well known in this field: He is credited with inventing the current generation of artificial breathing machines.

For eight years, the Ann Arbor team, with support from scientists at other universities, has been trying to invent a device that can do what today's machines cannot: supply 100% of a patient's oxygen needs by using the heart's own pumping power. "It took those eight years of iterations to meet those design requirements," says Scott Merz, president of MC3.

The system now used in hospitals is known as ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. ECMO machines take over the functions of both the lungs and heart, pumping blood and exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen outside the body. Bartlett says ECMO works well for patients who have had respiratory failure because of infections, such as pneumonia, or trauma, such as smoke inhalation. They only need to stay on the machine briefly, until their lungs have healed enough to begin breathing normally.

Long-Term Problems

While ECMO is a short-term lifesaver, it's not good for long-term use. Many people whose lungs are in such bad shape that they need a transplant -- such as sufferers of severe emphysema, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis -- do not survive on ECMO long enough to match them with a donor organ.

To keep the blood moving through the machine without clotting, patients get a blood-thinning drug. The blood thinner can cause bleeding. If blood clots do form, they can damage the brain and other vital organs. What's more, Merz says the mechanical pumps used in ECMO damage red blood cells -- the cells that carry oxygen.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

man coughing
You may not even know you have it.
blood clot
Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
 
man coughing
When a cold becomes bronchitis.
human lungs
Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
 

chest x-ray
Slideshow
Bronchitis Overview
SLIDESHOW
 
Copd Myth Fact Quiz
QUIZ
Energy Boosting Foods
SLIDESHOW
 

lungs
Article
smokestacks
Article
 
woman coughing
Article
Lung xray and caduceus
Article