Background: Pulmonary hypertension and lung injury secondary to cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) are probably caused by a combination of ischemia and inflammation. This study was undertaken to investigate the potential ischemic effects of cessation of pulmonary arterial flow during CPB on pulmonary injury.
Methods: Twenty neonatal piglets (2.5 to 3.1 kg) were randomly assigned to two groups. Group A (n = 10) underwent 90 minutes of CPB at full flow (100 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)) and clamping of the main pulmonary artery (PA). Group B (n = 10) underwent 90 minutes of partial CPB (66 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)) with continued mechanical ventilation and without clamping of the PA. All hearts were instrumented with micromanometers and a PA ultrasonic flow probe. Endothelial function was assessed by measuring endothelial-dependent relaxation (measured by change in pulmonary vascular resistance after PA infusion of acetylcholine) and endothelial-independent relaxation (measured by change in pulmonary vascular resistance after ventilator infusion of nitric oxide and PA infusion of sodium nitroprusside).
Results: All groups exhibited signs of pulmonary injury after CPB as evidenced by significantly increased pulmonary vascular resistance, increased alveolar-arterial O2 gradients, and decreased pulmonary compliance (p<0.05); however, pulmonary injury was significantly worse in group A (p<0.05).
Conclusions: This study suggests that although exposure to CPB alone is enough to cause pulmonary injury, cessation of PA flow during CPB contributes significantly to this pulmonary dysfunction.