Left Ventricular Unloading During Extracorporeal Life Support: Current Practice

J Card Fail. 2022 Aug;28(8):1326-1336. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2021.12.002. Epub 2021 Dec 20.


Venoarterial extracorporeal life support (VA-ECLS) is a powerful tool that can provide complete cardiopulmonary support for patients with refractory cardiogenic shock. However, VA-ECLS increases left ventricular (LV) afterload, resulting in greater myocardial oxygen demand, which can impair myocardial recovery and worsen pulmonary edema. These complications can be ameliorated by various LV venting strategies to unload the LV. Evidence suggests that LV venting improves outcomes in VA-ECLS, but there is a paucity of randomized trials to help guide optimal strategy and the timing of venting. In this review, we discuss the available evidence regarding LV venting in VA-ECLS, explain important hemodynamic principles involved, and propose a practical approach to LV venting in VA-ECLS.

Keywords: Extracorporeal life support; cardiogenic shock; left ventricular unloading; left ventricular venting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation* / methods
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Heart Ventricles
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / therapy