Intra Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP)

What is Intra Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP)

Intra aortic balloon pump is a mechanical device that helps improve blood flow to the heart and to other organs. The device is made up of a small, thin tube (catheter) with a balloon.

One end of the catheter is attached to a machine and the other is placed into the main artery that leads away from the heart (aorta).

When is an IABP used?

This device is used when a person needs temporary support because of a heart problem or procedure, such as:

  • A severe heart attack.
  • Open heart surgery.
  • Cardiogenic shock.
  • Heart failure.

Most people need the device for only a few days.

How is the catheter placed?

To place the catheter, a health care provider inserts the catheter into an artery in the groin. Then he or she threads it up the artery until the balloon reaches aorta.

How does an IABP work?

An IABP machine inflates and deflates the balloon, which pumps blood through the body. The heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood. As a result the heart is able to rest and heal. As the heart gets stronger, the help provided by the IABP is gradually reduced. An IABP is taken out when the heart no longer needs support.

What happens while an IABP is in place?

While you have an IABP:

  • You must stay in bed.
  • The head of your bed may be raised a little. This prevents the catheter from kinking, which can stop the catheter from working correctly.
  • You must keep the leg with the catheter straight. This prevents the catheter from kinking.
  • You may be given a medicine to prevent clots (anticoagulant).
  • You may have blood drawn often for testing.

What are the risks?

There are some risks of using an IABP. Some of these include:

  • Loss of feeling in the legs. This can happen if not enough blood reaches the lower legs.
  • Anemia. This can result from bleeding from the catheter insertion site.
  • Infection. If this happens the catheter may need to be replaced or removed.
  • Aortic tear. A tear in the aorta may prevent the aorta from delivering oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
  • Blood clots. A blood clot that breaks off and lodges in the brain can cause a stroke.
  • Failure of the device to work properly. This can happen if the balloon leaks or tears. If the device does not work properly the catheter may need to be replaced or removed.
  • Failure of the organs in the abdomen. This can happen if not enough blood reaches those organs.

Summary

  • An IABP is a mechanical device that helps improve blood flow to the heart and to other organs.
  • An IABP is used when a person needs temporary support because of a heart problem or procedure.
  • The two parts of an IABP are a catheter with a balloon on its tip and a machine.
  • The catheter of an IABP is inserted into an artery in the groin.
  • Risks of using an IABP include loss of feeling in the legs, organ failure, infection, aortic tear, and blood clots.
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