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

Kuo Sheng Liu, Feng Chun Tsai*, Yao Kuang Huang, Mon Yue Wu, Yu Sheng Chang, Jaw Ji Chu, Pyng Jing Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

16 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-508
Number of pages5
JournalArtificial Organs
Issue number7
StatePublished - 07 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Extracorporeal life support
  • Postcardiotomy shock
  • Right ventricular failure


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