Review Article

Left ventricular distension and venting strategies for patients on venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

Marisa Cevasco, Hiroo Takayama, Masahiko Ando, Arthur R. Garan, Yoshifumi Naka, Koji Takeda


Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA ECMO) is an established method of short-term mechanical support for patients in cardiogenic shock, but can create left ventricular (LV) distension. This paper analyzes the physiologic basis of this phenomenon and treatment methods. This is a retrospective review of the existing literature on VA ECMO and LV distension. We undertook a PubMed review of all peer-reviewed papers focusing on VA ECMO, LV distension, and LV venting. We reviewed these papers and synthesized our findings. We also will discuss the various methods of LV venting and venting strategies we use at Columbia. LV distension is becoming an increasingly appreciated aspect of caring for patients on VA ECMO support. The literature demonstrates that the consequences of failing to anticipate, recognize, and treat LV distension are grave, and will worsen an already distended and hypocontractile LV. Myocardial recovery will be hindered, and LV thrombus formation more likely. Early recognition and aggressive management of LV distension is paramount in helping care for this critically ill patient population.

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