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Artificial Lung & Lung Assist

Lung assist systems are technical systems that act as extracorporeal artificial lungs, also called oxygenators or blood-gas-exchangers. In the field of intensive care they are used to assist the patient´s lung or even replace it completely for a certain amount of time. Thereby the main function is to enrich the blood with oxygen and eliminate the carbon dioxide.

Fig. 1: Principle of membrane oxygenation

Today’s Oxygenators generally use the standard method of membrane oxygenation, consisting of small hollow fiber membranes (Ø 200 - 400 µm). The gas flows through those fibers while the blood passes them from the outside. Due to the concentration difference of O2 and CO2 between the gas and the blood phase a diffusive gas exchange takes place (Fig. 1).

Fig. 2: Extrakorporeal Oxygenation circuit

There are two main application areas to define:

  • Heart Lung Machines (HLM) and
  • ExtraCorporeal Lung Assist (ECLA).

A HLM is used during a heart surgery to take over the natural task of heart and lung for the time of the surgery, while the ECLA therapy is supposed to assist the lung function by oxygenating only a part of the blood (Fig. 2). The ECLA is often used as post-op procedure and can last for weeks.

The working group "Artificial Lung" in the Department of Cardiovascular Engineering focusses on research, development and testing of lung assist 
systems both for use as a heart-lung machine and for ECLA application.
Primary goals are the miniaturization of the systems for small patients (e.g. neonates) and adaptation to the patients´ individual needs.

By close cooperation with our fully equipped blood laboratory, all in accordance to DIN EN ISO 7199 necessary oxygenator tests can be carried out in house.


Group Leader

Dr.-Ing. Jutta Arens

Phone: +49 241 80 87018





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