Outcomes of Ambulatory Axillary Intraaortic Balloon Pump as a Bridge to Heart Transplantation

Ann Thorac Surg. 2021 Apr;111(4):1264-1270. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.06.077. Epub 2020 Sep 1.


Background: The axillary intraaortic balloon pump (IABP) is frequently used in selected patients for circulatory support as a bridge to heart transplantation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the safety and efficacy of axillary intraaortic balloon pump (IABP) support for heart transplant candidates.

Methods: The study investigators collected data on 133 patients who underwent axillary IABP support as a bridge to transplantation from July 2009 to April 2019. Of these patients, 94 (70.7%) underwent IABP insertion with surgical axillary grafts, and 39 (29.3%) underwent percutaneous IABP insertion. The outcomes of interest included ambulatory data, IABP-related complications, and successful heart transplantation with this type of support.

Results: The overall preoperative ejection fraction was 20.3% ± 8.0%. The median duration of axillary IABP support was 21days, with 131patients (98.5%) mobilizing with the device. Hemodynamic variables significantly improved after the axillary IABP support was placed. Overall, 122 patients (91.7%) were successfully bridged to heart transplantation. Six patients (4.5%) required escalation to further mechanical support. Two patients (1.5%) died while awaiting transplantation. Four patients (3.0%) experienced a stroke during axillary IABP support (3 before transplantation and1 after transplantation). Two of the 3 patients with a stroke diagnosis before transplantation recovered and eventually underwent heart transplantation.

Conclusions: With axillary IABP support, most patients were able to ambulate and undergo physical rehabilitation while waiting for heart transplantation. This study demonstrates that axillary IABP results in a high success rate of bridge to transplantation and a low number of complications. Thus, an ambulatory axillary IABP provided efficient and safe support for selected patients as a bridge to heart transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Axillary Artery
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / surgery*
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intra-Aortic Balloon Pumping / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors