The scientific evidence of arterial line filtration in cardiopulmonary bypass

Perfusion. 2016 Sep;31(6):446-57. doi: 10.1177/0267659115616179. Epub 2015 Nov 24.


Background: The indication for arterial line filtration (ALF) is to inhibit embolisation during cardiopulmonary bypass. Filtration methods have developed from depth filters to screen filters and from a stand-alone component to an integral part of the oxygenator. For many years, ALF has been a standard adopted by a majority of cardiac centres worldwide. The following review aims to summarize the available evidence in support for ALF and report on its current practice in Europe.

Method: The principles and application of ALF in Europe was investigated using a survey conducted in 2014. The scientific evidence for ALF was examined by performing a systematic literature search in six different databases, using the following search terms: "Cardiopulmonary bypass AND filters AND arterial". The primary endpoint was protection against cerebral injury verified by the degree of cerebral embolisation or cognitive tests. The secondary endpoint was improvement of the clinical outcome verified elsewise. Only randomised clinical trials were considered.

Results: The response rate was 31% (n=112). The great majority (88.5%) of respondents were using ALF, following more than 10 years of experience. Integrated arterial filtration was used by 55%. Of respondents not using ALF, fifty-four percent considered starting using integrated arterial filtration. The systematic literature database search returned 180 unique publications where 82 were specifically addressing ALF in cardiopulmonary bypass. Only four out of the 82 identified publications fulfilled our inclusion criteria. Of these, three were more than 20 years old and based on the use of bubble oxygenation.

Conclusion: ALF is a standard implemented in a majority of cardiopulmonary bypass procedures in Europe. The level of scientific evidence available in support of current arterial line filtration methods in cardiopulmonary bypass is, however, poor. Large, well-designed, randomised trials are warranted.

Keywords: arterial filtration; cardiopulmonary bypass; cerebral protection; embolism; perfusion techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass* / adverse effects
  • Embolism, Air / prevention & control*
  • Filtration
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vascular Access Devices*