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Use of venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and an atrial septostomy for pulmonary and right ventricular failure.
BACKGROUND: Right ventricular failure is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality on the lung transplant waiting list. This study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an atrial septostomy with venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV-ECMO) as a novel potential bridge to transplantation.
METHODS: Adult sheep (58±3 kg; n=12) underwent a clamshell thoracotomy and instrumentation to measure all relevant pressures and cardiac output (CO). Sheep with tricuspid insufficiency (TI [n=5]) and without tricuspid insufficiency (ØTI [n=7]) were examined. After creation of a 1-cm atrial septal defect and initiating VV-ECMO, the pulmonary artery (PA) was banded to allow progressive reduction of pulmonary blood flow, and data were collected.
RESULTS: The CO in both groups remained unchanged from baseline at all pulmonary blood flow conditions. With TI, the CO was 5.1±1.2 L/min at baseline versus 5.1±1.2 L/min with a fully occluded PA (p=0.99). For ØTI, the CO was 4.5±1.4 L/min at baseline versus 4.5±1.2 L/min with no pulmonary blood flow (p=0.99). Furthermore, CO was not affected by the presence of TI (p=0.76). Mean right ventricular pressures were significantly lower in the TI group (TI=20.2±11 mm Hg versus ØTI=29.9±8.9 mm Hg; p0.5). Lastly, VV-ECMO maintained normal blood gases, with mean O2 saturations of 99% ± 4.1% in both groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Right to left atrial shunting of oxygenated blood with VV-ECMO is capable of maintaining normal systemic hemodynamics and normal arterial blood gases during high right ventricular afterload dysfunction.