Percutaneous Left-Heart Decompression During Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation: An Alternative to Surgical and Transeptal Venting in Adult Patients

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is often applied for acute cardiorespiratory failure. Left ventricular distension can compromise recovery of the failing heart. To overcome this complication, we describe a new technique to decompress the left heart through the insertion of a venting cannula in the pulmonary artery. A 43-year-old woman was connected to ECMO for refractory cardiogenic shock after left pneumonia and severe sepsis. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) revealed a large intraventricular clot. A 15F venous cannula was placed percutaneously in the pulmonary artery and connected to the venous limb of the ECMO circuit to decompress the left heart, and to prevent left ventricular ejection and potential embolization. After myocardial recovery, when the thrombus was judged as stable, the patient was weaned, and ECMO was removed on day 16. The patient was discharged from the cardiac surgery intensive care unit on day 30 and subsequently had an uneventful recovery. This new percutaneous approach represent a feasible and effective method to vent the left heart during ECMO, when it becomes necessary to reduce wall tension or to prevent ejection.

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