The Axillary Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump as a Bridge to Recovery Allows Early Ambulation in Long-Term Use: Case Series and Literature Review

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Abstract

We evaluated the feasibility, tolerability, and efficacy of a strategy for transaxillary artery intra-aortic balloon pump placement for extended mechanical circulatory support of patients with postcardiotomy shock as a bridge to recovery. Patients requiring prolonged intra-aortic balloon pump support for postcardiotomy heart failure were identified. Intra-aortic balloon pump was tunneled through a 6-mm Dacron graft anastomosed to the right axillary artery. The intra-aortic balloon pump catheter is advanced under fluoroscopic guidance into the descending thoracic aorta. Three patients were transferred from outside facilities, requiring prolonged intra-aortic balloon pump support for postcardiotomy heart failure. Patients included a 54-year-old woman with occluded grafts and left ventricular thrombus after coronary artery bypass grafting, ejection fraction (EF) of 23.4% on dobutamine infusion, intra-aortic balloon pump support for 39 days, max daily ambulated distance of 1250 feet, and discharged home on day 51 on milrinone infusion; a 63-year-old man with kinked left internal mammary artery to left anterior descending artery graft (surgically repaired), multiple failed extubations requiring tracheostomy, EF of 15% on epinephrine and milrinone, intra-aortic balloon pump support for 43 days, max daily ambulated distance of 400 feet, and discharged home on day 54; and a 66-year-old man after redo coronary artery bypass grafting + carotid endarterectomy, with failure to wean off cardiopulmonary bypass requiring veno-arterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenator, EF of 20% on epinephrine and norepinephrine, intra-aortic balloon pump support for 41 days, max daily ambulated distance of 2800 feet, and discharged home on day 91. There were no infection, thromboembolic, cerebrovascular, bleeding, or intra-aortic balloon pump malpositioning/migration complications. We found that transaxillary artery intra-aortic balloon pump is well tolerated by patients and allows early ambulation and aggressive physical therapy in patients needing extended support. Duration of intra-aortic balloon pump support was up to 43 days with no complications.

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