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Artif Organs. 2009 Jul;33(7):504-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1594.2009.00734.x.

Extracorporeal life support: a simple and effective weapon for postcardiotomy right ventricular failure.

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Department of Cardiac Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan Hsien, Taiwan.


Postcardiotomy right ventricular (RV) failure develops during the perioperative period following pulmonary hypertensive crisis or acute myocardial infarction. This study reports our institutional experience in treating these patients with extracorporeal life support (ECLS). Between June 2002 and July 2005, 46 adults were treated with ECLS for postcardiotomy shock. Acute RV failure was the cause of support in 14 (30%). Patient mean age was 55.7 +/- 15.4 years. Cardiac pathologies were valvular (n = 7), coronary (n = 1), combined coronary and valvular disease (n = 2), complex congenital heart (n = 2), aortic aneurysm (n = 1), and cardiomyopathy post heart transplant (n = 1). The triggers of RV failure were pulmonary hypertension (n = 6), RV infarction (n = 4), and not defined (n = 4). Patients were supported on ECLS for a mean duration of 71 +/- 52 h (range, 10-183 h). Major complications included acute renal failure requiring hemodialysis (n = 4), reexploration for bleeding (n = 2), and acute subdural hematoma (n = 1). Nine (64%) patients were successfully weaned from ECLS, and seven (50%) survived to discharge. Preexisting pulmonary hypertension had a favorable tendency for weaning, and acute renal failure requiring hemodialysis correlated with in-hospital mortality. ECLS is beneficial for treating postcardiotomy RV failure when conventional therapy is exhausted. As it can be deployed rapidly and does not require resternotomy for weaning, ECLS could be regarded as the first choice of mechanical support for postcardiotomy RV failure.

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