In refractory cardiogenic shock, veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) can be initiated. Although left heart decompression can be accomplished by insertion of a left atrial (LA) or left ventricular (LV) cannula using a percutaneous pigtail catheter, the venting flow rate according to catheter size and ECMO flow rate is unknown. We developed an artificial ECMO circuit. One liter saline bag with its pressure set to 20 mm Hg was connected to ECMO to mimic LV failure. A pigtail catheter was inserted into the 1 L saline bag to simulate LV unloading. For each pigtail catheter size (5–8 Fr) and ECMO flow rate (2.0–4.0 L/min), the moving distance of an air bubble that was injected through a three-way stopcock was measured in the arterial pressure line between the pigtail catheter and ECMO inflow limb. The flow rate was then calculated. We obtained the following equation to estimate the pigtail catheter flow rate.
Pigtail vent catheter flow rate (ml/min) = 8×ECMOflow rate(L /min)+9×pigtail catheter size(Fr)- 57
This equation would aid in designing of a further study to determine optimal venting flow rate. To achieve optimal venting flow, our equation would enable selection of an adequate catheter size.