Terms and definitions

Antibiotic: A drug that kills bacteria or germs. Used to prevent or cure an infection.

Aorta: The large artery that carries oxygenated (red) blood from the heart to the body.

Cannula: A large tube that allows the drainage of blood from, or return to, the body. Also known as a catheter.

Cannulate: To insert a cannula into a part of the body, in this case, an artery or vein.

Cardiac: Refers to the heart.

Cardiologist: A physician specializing in the diseases of the heart.

Carotid artery: The large artery in the neck that carries blood from the heart to the brain.

Chest tube: A tube that is placed through the chest wall into the space between the lung and chest wall to drain air or fluid. Used to treat a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) or to drain fluid.

Chest X-ray: An X-ray performed to look at the lungs and heart.

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH): An opening in the diaphragm on either the right or left side that allows the abdominal organs (liver, intestines, etc.) to escape into the chest. Prevents proper growth and development of the lung on the affected side because of the pressure on it and because of the decreased space.

Decannulate: To remove a cannula.

ECHO: Echocardiogram, a procedure similar to ultrasound, uses sound waves to look at the heart to see its structures and how well the heart is functioning.

EEG: Electroencephalogram, a tracing of the electrical activity of the brain. Electrodes (wires) are placed on the scalp in several locations.

Head Ultrasound: (for infants) A painless procedure that uses sound waves to look at brain tissue. Gel is placed on the top of the head and a special wand is passed slowly over the soft spot on top of the head. This test cannot be done once the soft spot closes.

Hemofiltration: An artificial kidney that may be used to remove extra fluid that the child's own kidneys can't remove. It is inserted into the ECMO circuit.

Intracanial or Intraventricular Hemorrhage: Abnormal bleeding in the brain or head. Detected by ultrasound.

Meconium: The first stool of the newborn. May be present in the amniotic fluid at birth. It is dark green and thick.

Meconium Aspiration: Small particles of meconium become lodged in the lungs when the child breathes in the womb. This causes a chemical reaction and prevents oxygen from reaching some areas of the lung.

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a test that uses a magnetic field to obtain pictures of the brain or body. Sedation is required as movement interferes with the test.

Oxygenate: To combine or supply with oxygen. When oxygen enters the blood, as in the lungs, it becomes oxygenated. This is known as arterial blood.

Persistent fetal circulation: In the womb, the child is supplied with oxygen by the mother through the umbilical cord. The blood is not oxygenated by the lungs until the child is born. At this time, the circulation must change from fetal to newborn circulation, allowing the blood to pass through the lungs to be oxygenated. If this fails to occur, the blood continues to circulate as it did in the fetal state, and the child's body does not get enough oxygen. Also called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, or PPHN.

Platelets: Cells in the blood that help in the clotting ability of the blood.

Respiratory Distress: At birth, or shortly after, a child may encounter difficulty breathing. This may be caused by immature lungs or foreign material present in the lungs.

Surfactant: A soap-like substance normally found in the lungs of full-term babies, children and adults. Presence of this substance keeps the lungs from collapsing. Premature babies may not have enough of this to keep their lungs from collapsing.

Trial-off: Removing the child from ECMO to see if the lungs are healthy enough to support the child.

Unoxygenated blood: Blood that has delivered most of its oxygen to the tissues of the body and is lower in oxygen. Also called venous (blue) blood.

Ventilator: A breathing machine that delivers oxygen, pressure and a rate of breathing to the child by a breathing tube. Also known as a respirator.

Weaning: ECMO blood flow rate being decreased gradually as the child improves.