Short-term mechanical circulatory support (intra-aortic balloon pump, Impella, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, TandemHeart): a review

Ann Transl Med. 2020 Jul;8(13):829. doi: 10.21037/atm-20-2171.


Cardiogenic shock remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality for patients with acute myocardial infarction and advanced heart failure. Intra-aortic balloon pump has been the most widely used short-term mechanical circulatory support device to rapidly stabilize hemodynamics. However, it provides modest support, current evidence does not show a decrease in mortality, and the latest guidelines no longer recommend its routine use. Several percutaneous mechanical circulatory support devices have been introduced into clinical practice (Impella, extracorporeal membrane oxygen, TandemHeart), providing a greater level of hemodynamic support. These resource-intensive devices demand a careful selection of patients that stand to benefit the most. Premature initiation of mechanical circulatory support exposes the patient to unnecessary risk, whereas delaying therapy leads to irreversible end-organ injury, rendering any intervention medically futile. Cannulation methods, pump designs, and circuit configurations differ between devices, as do the adverse effects and physiological impact on the myocardium, which needs to be factored into consideration before deployment on the patient in cardiogenic shock. This article will review the commonly used percutaneous mechanical circulatory support devices in the setting of cardiogenic shock, compare their advantages and disadvantages, evaluate key clinical trials, and discuss a practical approach to guide clinicians' decision and management.

Keywords: Impella; Mechanical circulatory support (MCS); TandemHeart (TH); extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO); intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP).

Publication types

  • Review