Mechanical ventilation and the total artificial heart: optimal ventilator trigger to avoid post-operative autocycling - a case series and literature review

J Cardiothorac Surg. 2010 May 17:5:39. doi: 10.1186/1749-8090-5-39.


Many patients with end-stage cardiomyopathy are now being implanted with Total Artificial Hearts (TAHs). We have observed individual cases of post-operative mechanical ventilator autocycling with a flow trigger, and subsequent loss of autocycling after switching to a pressure trigger. These observations prompted us to do a retrospective review of all TAH devices placed at our institution between August 2007 and May 2009. We found that in the immediate post-operative period following TAH placement, autocycling was present in 50% (5/10) of cases. There was immediate cessation of autocycling in all patients after being changed from a flow trigger of 2 L/minute to a pressure trigger of 2 cm H2O. The autocycling group was found to have significantly higher CVP values than the non-autocycling group (P = 0.012). Our data suggest that mechanical ventilator autocycling may be resolved or prevented by the use of a pressure trigger rather than a flow trigger setting in patients with TAHs who require mechanical ventilation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Heart, Artificial*
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*