Background: Right ventricular failure from elevated pulmonary vascular resistance in the recipient is a main cause of early mortality after heart transplantation. When pharmacologic treatment is insufficient, mechanical circulatory assistance has been used to support the failing right ventricle. Considering right and left ventricular interdependence, we investigated whether intraaortic balloon counterpulsation (IABP) might also alleviate predominantly right ventricular dysfunction after heart transplantation.
Methods: Among 278 cardiac recipients, 12 adult patients underwent mechanical circulatory support for cardiac allograft dysfunction. Five patients were treated with percutaneous IABP for early postoperative low cardiac output syndrome characterized by predominantly right ventricular failure. Clinical data and hemodynamic variables were recorded before and during IABP treatment.
Results: Cardiac index (CI) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) increased (CI 1.7 +/- 0.1 to 2.5 +/- 0.2, MAP 53 +/- 12 to 71 +/- 7, p < 0.05) within 1 hour after IABP, whereas central venous pressure (CVP) and pulmonary artery wedge pressure (PAWP) decreased (CVP 21.6 +/- 1.7 to 13.8 +/- 3.1, p < .05; PAWP 14.8 +/- 4.9 to 12.4 +/- 3.7, nonsignificant). Within the next 12 hours, CI and mixed venous oxygen saturation increased (p < 0.05) and pulmonary artery pressure decreased (p < 0.05). All 5 patients were weaned successfully and 4 are long-term survivors with adequate cardiac performance at 1 year follow-up.
Conclusions: Intraaortic balloon pumping is a minimally invasive circulatory assist device with proved efficiency in low cardiac output syndromes. This report shows that low output syndrome caused by predominantly right ventricular allograft failure may be an additional indication for IABP.