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Ann Thorac Surg. 1994 Dec;58(6):1645-50.

Decreasing myocardial pH reflects ischemia during continuous warm retrograde cardioplegic arrest.

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  • 1Division of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester 01655.


Warm continuous retrograde cardioplegia is thought to prevent myocardial ischemia. We tested this hypothesis by subjecting canine hearts to 2 hours of either antegrade or retrograde perfusion with normothermic blood cardioplegia. Ischemic alterations were evaluated through the measurement of myocardial pH, tissue levels of adenosine triphosphate and lactate, and the preservation of left ventricular contractility. Antegrade perfusion resulted in uniformly positive changes in the myocardial pH in both ventricles, preserved levels of adenosine triphosphate, and small increases in the myocardial lactate levels. In contrast, retrograde perfusion caused the myocardial pH to decrease, especially in the right ventricle. Tissue lactate levels rose to a significantly greater extent during retrograde perfusion and adenosine triphosphate levels declined, although not to a statistically significant degree. Finally, myocardial function, as assessed by the preload recruitable work area, was preserved (103% +/- 20% of baseline) in the antegrade group but was markedly diminished (33% +/- 6%) in retrogradely perfused left ventricles 35 minutes after the aortic cross-clamp was removed. These data suggest that ischemic metabolism and the subsequent alteration of myocardial function take place despite continuous retrograde perfusion with normothermic blood cardioplegia.

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