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Surgery. 1975 Jul;78(1):45-53.

The mechanism of myocardial damage following potassium citrate (Melrose) cardioplegia.


To determine the reasons for clinical failure of Melrose solution, potassium arrest was studied in isolated working rat hearts. Eight control hearts were stable for 2-1/2 hours. After 1/2 hour of work, 42 experimental hearts were subjected to 1 hour of ischemis by aortic cross-clamping with unmodified ischemia in eight hearts and ischemia with simultaneous intracoronary injection of 5 ml. of 4 degrees C. (1)Krebs-Henseleit buffer in seven hearts (2)potassium chloride buffer in six hearts, (3)potassium citrate buffer in eight hearts (both 26 mEq. per liter of K, approximately 300 mOsm. per liter), (4)Melrose solution in seven hearts (greater than 200 mEq. per liter of K, greater than 400 mOsm. per liter), (5)hypertonic potassium citrate buffer in six hearts (26 mEq. per liter of K, greater than 400 mOsm. per liter). The pH of all solutions was 7.8 plus or minus 0.1. After recovery isotonic potassium citrate- and potassium chloride-arrested hearts and time-matched control hearts showed no significant differences in cardiac output, coronary flow, systolic pressure, or heart rate. Hypertonic potassium citrate decreased the recovery of cardiac function after arrest and Melrose arrest was not significantly different from unmodified ischemia. Intracoronary cold isotonic Krebs-Henseleit buffer was better than Melrose arrest but inferior to 26 mEq. er liter of potassium arrest. Arrest with 26 mEq. per liter of potassium augments perfusion hypothermia and prevents significant functional and histologic myocardial damage during 1 hour of ischemis. Previous authors assumed that hypertonicity and citrate were responsible for poor results with Melrose solution, but high potassium concentration is the major deleterious factor with hypertonicity playing a contributory role.

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