Cait P. Searl

Consultant Cardiothoracic Anaesthetist / Intensivist


Broken Lungs2 (PDF)

Broken Lungs2 (PPT)

•High CO2 gradient between blood and

sweep gas allows diffusion across the membrane, allowing efficient CO2 removal

•Oxygenation limited due to arterial inflow
•Low resistance to blood flow (7mmHg at 1.5l /minute) allowing the heart to be the pump for the device
•Heparin coated biocompatible surface

The artificial lung from Novalung GmbH is the first of its kind to be naturally supplied with blood from the human heart. Since the beginning of 2003, the ILA device (Interventional Lung Assist) has been utilised to provide intermittent lung support to more than 300 patients with acute lung failure following severe inflammation or injuries, for instance. Dr. Matheis explains that it is not necessary to open up the patient’s chest and not even a general anaesthetic is needed. “The ILA device can be connected to the blood flow by two tubes without requiring an operation. It removes carbon dioxide and increases oxygen levels in the blood. This relieves the strain on the lung and gives it time to heal.”

The artificial lung, which measures only 14 x 14 cm, is capable of complementing and in some cases replacing traditional mechanical ventilation, which can seriously affect the functioning of the human body. “Mechanical ventilation is a double-edged sword,” says Dr. Matheis. “Respiratory air is normally drawn into the human lung through the creation of a partial vacuum, whereas respirators actually force air into the respiratory tract. In the case of lung failure, this unnatural pressure can damage the lung,” he explains. Affected patients require lung support for a period of approx. ten days on average, but applications lasting over a month, for example when waiting for a lung transplant, have already cropped up. By reducing mechanical ventilation, the ILA device is a safe and cost-effective alternative.

(Baden-WĂĽrttemberg – our favorite location in Europe)