Management of acute fulminant myocarditis using circulatory support systems

Artif Organs. 1996 Aug;20(8):964-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1594.1996.tb04579.x.


Although the natural history of acute myocarditis leads to complete recovery in the majority of patients, rapid and irreversible cardiac decompensation resulting in death is known to occur. One possible therapy to improve the poor prognosis of this patient group may be the implantation of circulatory support systems that allow myocardial recovery or bridging to heart transplantation. Therapeutic protocols have been suggested, but clinical experiences in this area are few. In this paper we report on our clinical experiences in cardiogenic shock after acute fulminant myocarditis using different types of circulatory support systems. Three different systems were used: a biomedicus centrifugal pump as a ventricular assist device (VAD) or femoro-femoral bypass (FFB) including oxygenator; Abiomed BVS 5000, and Thoratec ventricular assist device. Hemodynamic criteria for implantation of support systems were cardiac index < 2.0 L/min/m2. SVR = 1000 dyne-s-cm-5, central venous pressure (CVP) or left atrial pressure (LAP) > 20 mm Hg, and urine output < 20 ml/h despite maximal pharmacological therapy. Age total of 5 patients (mean age 29 years, range 15-55 years) in cardiogenic shock after acute fulminant myocarditis were included. Two patients initially were supported for stabilization and transportation from an outside hospital by FFB. Both patients died after a support time of 24 h because of multiorgan failure or neurological disorders after longer periods of resuscitation in the referral hospital. The third patient (55 years) received the Biomedicus pump as CVAD. Myocardial function recovered after a support time of 120 h, and the patient could be weaned. Unfortunately, 2 days after weaning, he developed malignant arrhythmias and died. The 2 remaining patients (15 years and 27 years) with diagnosis of acute fulminant virus myocarditis were supported by biventricular assist device (1 x Thoratec/111 days, 1 x Abiomed/7 days). During the entire time of support, there were no signs of myocardial recovery. The patients were accepted for the heart transplantation (HTX) program. In both cases, HTXs were performed without any complication. The postoperative course was uneventful. The results of mechanical circulatory support in patients with acute fulminant myocarditis are encouraging and justify the resources.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiomyopathies / surgery
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy*
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass*
  • Female
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Organ Failure / mortality
  • Myocarditis / surgery
  • Myocarditis / therapy*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / therapy
  • Transportation of Patients / standards