Unloading of the Left Ventricle During Venoarterial Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Therapy in Cardiogenic Shock

B Schrage, D Burkhoff, N Rubsamen, PM Becher, M Schwarzl, A Bernhardt, H Grahn, E Lubos, G Soffker, P Clemmensen, H Reichenspurner, S Blankenberg and D Westermann


This report relates the authors’ ongoing experience with percutaneous left ventricular (LV) unloading by using a transaortic LV assist device in combination with venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) and provides an in-depth analysis of the hemodynamic benefit of this approach.


VA-ECMO is increasingly used in cases of severe cardiogenic shock. However, increase in afterload with subsequent LV overload is a major drawback of VA-ECMO.


Consecutive patients were treated with a transaortic LV assist device in addition to VA-ECMO for cardiogenic shock. The primary endpoint was 30-day all-cause mortality. Additional endpoints included weaning from VA-ECMO and safety endpoints.


Between September 2013 and January 2018, 106 patients were treated with percutaneous LV unloading, using a transaortic LV assist device in combination with VA-ECMO. Successful weaning from VA-ECMO support was achieved in 51.9% of all patients. In the overall cohort, survival at day 30 was 35.8%, which was higher than predicted by the SAVE score (20%) or by the SAPS-II score (6.9%). Right heart catheterization indicated a marked decrease of PCWP after addition of the device to VA-ECMO.


The strategy of percutaneous LV unloading using a transaortic LV assist device in combination with VA-ECMO improved outcome in an all-comers cohort compared to established risk scores. A prospective, randomized study is needed to further investigate this approach.

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