Development of a computational simulator of the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and its validation with in vitro measurements

Simona Colasanti*, Vincenzo Piemonte, Emmanuel Devolder, Krzysztof Zieliński, Katrien Vandendriessche, Bart Meyns, Libera Fresiello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the recent years, the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has grown substantially, posing the need of having specialized medical and paramedical personnel dedicated to it. Optimization of the therapy, definition of new therapeutic strategies, and ECMO interaction with the cardiorespiratory system require numerous specific skills and preclinical models for patient successful management. The aim of the present work is to develop and validate a computational model of ECMO and connect it to an already existing lumped parameter model of the cardiorespiratory system. The ECMO model was connected between the right atrium and the aorta of the cardiorespiratory simulator. It includes a hydraulic module that is a representation of the tubing, oxygenator, and pump. The resulting pressures and flows within the ECMO circuit were compared to the measurements conducted in vitro on a real ECMO. Additionally, the hemodynamic effects the ECMO model elicited on the cardiorespiratory simulator were compared with experimental data taken from the literature. The comparison between the hydraulic module and the in vitro measurements evidenced a good agreement in terms of flow, pressure drops across the pump, across the oxygenator and the tubing (maximal percentage error recorded was 17.6%). The hemodynamic effects of the ECMO model on the cardiovascular system were in agreement with what observed experimentally in terms of cardiac output, systemic pressure, pulmonary arterial pressure, and left atrial pressure. The ECMO model we developed and embedded into the cardiorespiratory simulator, is a useful tool for the investigation of basic physiological mechanisms and principles of ECMO therapy. The model was sided by a user interface dedicated to training applications. As such, the resulting simulator can be used for the education of students, medical and paramedical personnel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-410
Number of pages12
JournalArtificial organs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiorespiratory simulator
  • computational ECMO model
  • hemodynamic effects
  • hydraulic ECMO circuit
  • lumped parameter
  • patient management


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