Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP) for Heart Failure
An intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) is a mechanical device
that is inserted into the aorta, the body's largest artery. It is a long, thin
tube called a catheter with a balloon on the end of it. If you are hospitalized
in the intensive care unit, your doctor may insert an IABP. Your doctor will
numb an area of your leg and thread the IABP through the femoral artery in your
leg into your aorta. He or she then positions the IABP at the center of your
aorta, below your heart.
The doctor will use an X-ray machine
during this procedure to help accurately position the IABP.
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The IABP reduces the workload
on your heart, thereby allowing your heart to pump more blood. After the IABP
is placed inside your aorta, the balloon on the end of the catheter inflates
and deflates with the same rhythm as your heart. The IABP improves the function
of only your left ventricle, since this is the chamber that pumps blood into
your aorta. The IABP functions in the following way:
1. After your
left ventricle has finished contracting, the balloon inflates. This inflation
helps increase blood flow to the heart and the rest of the body.
2. As your left ventricle is about to pump out blood, the balloon
deflates. This deflation creates extra space in the aorta, allowing the heart
to pump out more blood. This decreases the workload on the heart.
IABPs offer people many benefits. Blood flow to your body improves. Blood
that has backed up into the lungs is also able to flow out.
What are the drawbacks?
IABPs cause some side effects. An IABP can cause
an infection in your bloodstream if it is used for too long. The balloon may
overinflate and tear your aorta.
IABP treatment is also
inconvenient. You must lie extremely still in your hospital bed if you have one
of these devices in place. An IABP is only used for a short period of time
(hours to days) until a longer-term solution, such as bypass surgery or
insertion of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), is possible.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
August 9, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 09, 2010
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