Coronary sinus interventions: from concept to clinics

J Card Surg. 1987 Dec;2(4):467-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8191.1987.tb00205.x.


For almost 100 years the coronary venous system has attracted researchers as an access route to deprived myocardium. Different concepts have been tried and numerous experimental studies have been performed to evaluate whether coronary sinus occlusion, retroinfusion, and retroperfusion of arterial blood via the coronary sinus represent an effective treatment of myocardial ischemia. The early successful studies of Drs. Gregg, Eckstein, Beck and others led to the application of the Beck II procedure, a permanent retroperfusion technique used in the early 1950s to revascularize patients with diffuse atherosclerosis. The coronary sinus route was also used to retroperfuse blood intraoperatively during opening of the heart to keep the heart beating. Excessive mortality and severe side effects, such as myocardial edema and hemorrhage, and an insufficiently advanced technology resulted in the temporary demise of the coronary sinus approaches. Recently, however, the need to improve myocardial protection, despite enormous advances in coronary bypass surgery and interventional cardiology, has resulted in renewed interest in the coronary sinus as an access route to deprived myocardium. Advances in technology such as percutaneous catheter techniques have improved access to the coronary venous system and allowed for a physiological adaptation of coronary sinus retroperfusion techniques. Today the three major coronary sinus techniques, i.e., sychronized retroperfusion (SRP), retroinfusion of cardioplegia during cardiac arrest and retroinfusion of pharmaceutical agents in the normal working heart, and pressure-controlled intermittent coronary sinus occlusion (PICSO) have been documented as providing superior protection of jeopardized myocardium in selected subsets of patients. All of these techniques currently are under clinical consideration; the retroinfusion of cardioplegia has already found wide clinical acceptance, SRP and PICSO have only recently been tested in first clinical trials. Due to a vast resurgence in interest, it is desirable to survey the results obtained with each of these techniques, to discuss the pathophysiology and mode of action of coronary sinus interventions, and to assign them a place in the perspective of conventional therapies. Furthermore, an attempt will be made to weigh individual coronary sinus techniques against each other, discuss in which clinical settings each of them may be most effective, and define issues facing current development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coronary Circulation
  • Coronary Disease / therapy
  • Coronary Vessels / physiology*
  • Heart Atria
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Reperfusion / methods
  • Veins